How to Enjoy a Remote 2020 New Year's Eve Celebration in the KW Region

Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases Ontario has announced a provincewide shutdown beginning on Saturday, Dec. 26 at 12:01 a.m. As this will mean you can only leave your home for essential trips and only gather with those in your household, the New Year's Eve festivities usually hosted in Waterloo Region are cancelled (hopefully to make a triumphant return next year.)

There are plenty of ways to celebrate virtually though and the region's government are still offering some local events - not in person, but virtually - you can include in your New Year's Eve plans.

Let's start off with some general ideas for a remote New Year's Eve celebration at home.

Idea 1: Where to Stage a Remote New Year's Party

Because of the local restrictions that will be in place on New Year's Eve this year hosting a virtual party is the best option for celebrating the New Year with family and friends. Although you may be groaning, thinking about the sometimes uncomfortable and chaotic Zoom meetings that you have encountered working remotely, bear in mind that you can turn a virtual affair from our regrettable reality into a lively diversion.

You can opt for one of these free sites to get your virtual New Year's Eve party started:

Zoom: For up to 40 minutes, host up to 100 guests. You must buy a package for longer gatherings so this may not be the best choice.

Skype: For an evening of fun, invite up to 50 guests. You'll have to opt for a subscription if you want to call a mobile phone though.

Messenger Rooms on Facebook: Entertain up to 50 guests all night. A Facebook account is not required to attend and this is all free, so may be the best way to organize a New Year's virtual get together. In your invitations, simply share a connection to the room.

Idea 2: Organize a New Year's Party Theme

Just because you're celebrating remotely doesn't mean that you can't lift a theme for the festivities. Themed parties tend to be effective because guests are expected to dress in costumes or behave a certain way. You can often help ensure that they arrive at the party with their guards down, ready to celebrate, by asking guests to dress up.

It should be no different this year. Even though everybody will be in their own homes, it will help you get the crowd into a lighthearted, celebratory mood by having guests put on a costume. Plus, costumes are a perfect icebreaker, so you're not going to have to deal with any of those simulated silences that are uncomfortable.

The theme you choose to organize should focus on what you want your party's mood to be. Themes may vary from relaxed to over the top, such as:

Pajama Party: Make your gathering a comfortable one by dressing all your guests in their favorite pajamas and sipping on spiked hot chocolates.

Resolutions: Have your guests dress up as their New Year's resolutions, invite everyone to decorate their backgrounds with their favorite motivational quotes and build games around guessing each other's costumes, since it's tradition to set personal goals for the next year.

Gatsby Soiree: This NYE might be an odd one, but it is still part of the "Roaring '20s," so why not celebrate dressing up as flappers and mobsters with your guests?

The key to success here is to try to pick a theme that you think will excite both you and your guests. The more eager everyone is to dress up, the more energetic the party will be.

Idea 3: Send Cool E-Invitations

A Zoom call does not scream WILD PARTY, but every virtual event is certainly enhanced by customized e-invitations. So, get your guest list together and start figuring out the look you want to achieve for your invites. A variety of designs are provided by websites such as Evite, Paperless Post and Minted, many of which can be used for free.

When you send out the invites, you can also use these websites with their RSVP functions to keep track of your headcount. To host your virtual event, Evite will even send you a free, unrestricted video chat. So your guests can access your New Year's Eve party directly from their invite!

Idea 4: Hold a totally local party for New Year's Eve

Since this year COVID-19 has undoubtedly kept you from traveling and seeing more of the outside world at all this year, why not take this opportunity to celebrate what your local community has to offer? As they ring in the new year, ask your guests to help their local businesses.

You may recommend that your guests order food from nearby restaurants, desserts from the bakeries nearest to their home and alcohol from breweries or distilleries in the area instead of cooking. Everyone should share where they come from and inspire others to patronize their favorite places while you enjoy your hometown treats.

Idea 5: Karaoke Crank Up

A great way to keep your guests entertained is to introduce karaoke to your New Year's party. If your friends have flawless pitch or can be better characterized as tone-deaf, as they sing the night away, there will be lots of laughter. Any of your guests can easily build a karaoke set-up from the comfort of their own homes thanks to the slew of karaoke channels on YouTube.

NYE in the Waterloo Region 2020

City of Waterloo

There will be no physical New Year’s Eve celebrations in uptown Waterloo this year, but the City of Waterloo are offering virtual celebrations instead.

City of Waterloo Uptown Holiday Playlist

If you are out and about in Uptown Waterloo you will be able to hear a curated playlist of holiday tunes by local artists via QR codes posted on the kiosk by the tree in Waterloo Public Square, or on the trailer on the north side of The Shops.

Local artists featured on the playlist include Elsa Jayne, I, The Mountain, Tim Moher, Itamar Danziger, and Natassja Debra.

City of Waterloo Virtual Fireworks

The City of Waterloo has partnered with Snap’d KW to host an augmented reality fireworks display.

To participate you'll need to download a free app - the Snap’d HUB app - from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Up until December 28th the app will offer a

“Virtual Snowfall” effect in the app, and then on New Year’s Eve app users can join in a virtual countdown and watch the fireworks.

The City of Kitchener does not have any events planned at this time.