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In? Out? Shake it all about? Celebrating NYE in (another) winter of Covid conundrums

Omicron, the awkward Christmas present nobody wanted, has had all NYE plans on a knife edge for the last few weeks. At the time of writing, the UK Government has said there will be no new Covid restrictions in England until 2022, giving venues the green light to party. However, with record numbers of new cases over the Christmas week some people are opting to stay at home.

If you’re still undecided on your plans, here are our top three picks for a great night out – plus tips for a big night in.

Heading Out in Oxford

Tap Social’s Tap Room NYE Party with Kwassa Kwassa promises to bring the feel-good vibes, with a mix of Afro-Latin dance floor shenanigans, wood-fired pizza and, of course, excellent beer. If you’ve not been to their Tap Room, don’t be fazed by the industrial estate address: everything about it exudes warmth, from the friendly, laid-back atmosphere to the amazing ethos of the Tap Social Movement. Book tickets in advance (£15 plus booking fee).

If you’ve been feeling more down in the dumps than Cinderella in her sad rags, fear not, you shall go to the disco ball! Your fabulous fairy godmothers of funk are the team behind this year’s P.Y.T. x NYE at the Bullingdon. Dance your heart out to disco, soul and funk – and tell 2021 to go, walk out the door, just turn around now – ‘cos it’s not welcome any more (you will survive!). Book tickets in advance (£20 plus booking fee).

Take a trip down the tow path and into the wonderful world of the Isis River Farmhouse. This NYE they’re hosting a night of eclectic live music – with sets from The Gees, Beard of Destiny and the Isis City Rockers, plus the irreverent trad/pop mash-up of the Bastard English folk session. Food will be served all evening, and your £10 entry fee includes a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Pay on the door – no booking required.

For all venues, we recommend reading their Covid rules in detail before you book.

Disco Balls by Matthew Le June on Unsplash

Celebrate From Your Sofa

Remember the heady days of 2020 when Zoom parties actually seemed quite novel and exciting? Now we’re saying goodbye to 2021 and it can feel as though the last thing anyone wants to do is spend an awkward evening comparing virtual backgrounds and raising a gin to their work laptop. But with a little inspiration and imagination, we think it is still possible to have a fun NYE from home.

Here are our top three tips:

Take turns to be in charge of the playlist. We’ve found, through harsh and bitter experience, that if there’s no plan for music, what tends to happen is a) one person takes over and everyone else has to politely tolerate their choices for the entire evening, or b) a chaotic mash-up of background music occurs, as numerous participants enjoy their own soundtrack, oblivious to the fact that it is now audible to everyone else, and in no way enhanced by the tinny quality created by Zoom’s echo cancellation. Imagine each of you has your very own DJ/festival set – and discover what everyone else has been listening to in 2021. Just remember to adjust the sound settings to avoid the ‘party under water’ effect (find out how to keep ‘original sound’ on Zoom here).

Hold your very own talent show. The actual talent bit isn’t important – in fact, showcasing a lack of skill can sometimes be far more entertaining. The main thing is to encourage everyone to prepare a short performance – music, poetry, stand-up, dog tricks, acrobatics, magic and theatrical sketches all work well. Not only do you get a chance to see what intriguing hobbies your friends and family have been cultivating during extra time at home, but it means no-one will be short of conversational material for the rest of the evening. It helps if someone is happy to act as the compere, and plan the schedule in advance, so you’re not left waiting for the next act to return from the loo. As above, using original sound is key to avoiding the feeling that strange robots have taken over Britain’s Got Talent.

Dress up! Yes, we know one of the perks of virtual parties is the option to be wearing your comfiest PJs and slippers, but sometimes we suspect it changes the vibe from celebratory to sleepy. To keep it cosy without going comatose we recommend setting a silly theme – one with more scope for invention and creativity than the classic ‘dress to impress’. A few favourites include ‘dress as your pet’, ‘time travellers’ and ‘the outfit you wanted when you were six’. TBH, one of the DI team would happily combine all three and spend the evening as an unusually glittery Dogtanian!

Siora Photography on Unsplash

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