I looooove to party, so why do I hate New Year's Eve? Because it's so overblown. When I was in my 20s, it was all about backing away from...

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I looooove to party, so why do I hate New Year’s Eve? Because it’s so overblown.

When I was in my 20s, it was all about backing away from the person I didn’t want to kiss at midnight and maneuvering toward the person I wanted to kiss. I thought when I became a 40-something married wallflower, that whole dance would be over. Guess what? It’s not.

As midnight rolls around, I cling very close to my husband. But those other guys still find me with their boozy breath.

That’s mostly why I hate those giant, out-of-control parties where food and liquor are served in volume and quality is an after-thought.

I have a much better time avoiding that rowdy crowd. If you feel the same, read on for some suggestions to start the New Year on a different note.

Stay home with the kids

It sounds corny, but it can be fun to include your kids in the celebration. Have them take a nap. Do a midnight countdown with champagne for the grown-ups and sparkling cider for the kids.

Serve special food. Talk about how and when New Year’s is celebrated in other parts of the world such as China and Vietnam.

Most of all, enjoy being home with the little ones.

Fondue for two

Spend the whole evening with the only person you really want to kiss at midnight. Plan a sophisticated meal for two, like fondue or steaks and lobster. Since it’s only two, you can spend a little more on a wonderful bottle of champagne.

Set a mood with this person’s favorite music or videos. If you’ve been together forever, use it as an opportunity to reminisce. Drag out the photo albums, or work on a memory book with pictures of past celebrations. Camp out by the fire, then wake up refreshed and go out for brunch.

Dinner with friends

Instead of a giant crowd, entertain only a small circle of friends — six or fewer. Do a potluck, with each person bringing something special. You could end up with caviar, oysters and chocolate mousse. Pool your money for wine and have a vertical tasting of vintage champagnes, or simply get some great bottles of non-vintage bubbly.

Package leftovers for guests to take home — it’ll minimize the mess to clean up.