Last night we hosted the ideal impromptu New Year’s Eve gala. The idea of having this family friendly “Burning Man” alternative had been tickling around in my mind for weeks, and we finally had it last night. My son and one of the neighbor boys nailed together a monstrosity out of scrap lumber and drift wood, and we burned the thing down with our neighbors. It was as simple as that. No rules or expectations. Just get together and have a big roaring fire on a frigid winter evening.
It was one of those North Pole-esque evenings with temperatures hovering around zero degrees, but there was very little wind, and the sky was clear. Crisp, cold, and clear. These are the ideal conditions for a winter bonfire. I hardly realized how badly we needed it. After a week of entertaining family, it was awesome to have a low key affair that required very little preparation. Expectations were pretty low all around, and I think we were all surprised by how fun it actually was. I expected everyone to stick around for maybe 15 minutes, and after succumbing to cold and whining children, head home.
We only invited families in close proximity to us (literally within a stone’s throw) and 24 neighbors showed up. Just over half (a baker’s dozen) were kids. Virtually everybody stayed for an hour and a half, and the party ended at 7:30. I loved how it all ended simultaneously in everyone’s minds as well. No lingering as the party withers on the vine into the wee hours of the night. Boom. “Good night and happy new year everyone”, and it was over. Our kids were sleeping a half hour later, and I followed suit at 10:30. Absolutely perfect! Twas an ideal way to burn off some steam after the holidays.
We need to stick together and support one another during these long winter evenings, and simple get togethers like this are one way of doing so. We supplied luminaries (the ice shelters for the candles you can see above), a fire, hot cocoa, and some adult beverages, and that was all. There wasn’t a need to have a perfectly picked up house or all the stress that entails. This is the key to regularly keeping up with those around you. It absolutely has to be virtually stress and expectation free, or the perfectionist monster in you will prevent you from ever doing anything. Just do something darn it! Don’t get sucked into the perfect party and host syndrome.
Since promoting community and neighborliness is one of my passions, I’ll share with you just how little the event cost us:
*Hot cocoa ($6 in whole milk, $2 in cocoa powder, approximately $4 in optional Irish Cream for the adults, and $2 in scrumptious whipped cream)
*$6 worth of beer was consumed.
There you have a grand total of $20 for a VERY inexpensive night of entertainment that the whole family enjoyed, as did the others. We couldn’t get out this cheaply by ourselves very easily this time of year. So there you have it. Host a low frills simple party with your neighbors some time this winter. It gets to be a long bitter winter without such things, as we get consumed by the tyranny of endless meaningless activities that suck the purpose out of your existence.