By Lisa Girard
New Year’s Eve is a night of great expectation. It’s a time to celebrate our accomplishments of the past 12 months and think of all the possibilities in the year ahead. It’s a time to laugh, dance, sing and, to borrow a slightly overused phrase, party like a rock star. But for those of us who are tired of doing the same old thing on this highly anticipated night (and who usually end up a bit disappointed), here are 10 of our best ideas to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a slightly different way.
1. It’s been called “the best New Year’s Eve party in town.” For the 13th straight year, the Jersey Shore’s own Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes will perform a Dec. 31 show at the Count Basie Theatre beginning at 9 p.m. The set list promises to include hits like “Havin’ A Party,” “Hearts of Stone” and “Trapped Again,” as well as selections from the band’s latest CD, the highly praised “Pills and Ammo” (2010). Tickets range from $29.50 to $99.
99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, (732) 842-9000, www.countbasietheatre.org
2. If you’re more into 1970s pop music, the Algonquin Arts Theatre continues its New Year’s Eve tradition with ABBA-Mania. This rock musical takes you back to the disco era and celebrates the music of ABBA, whose hits include “Take a Chance on Me,” “Dancing Queen” and “Mama Mia.” Performances are at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and all tickets are $50.
173 Main St., Manasquan, (732) 528-9211, www.algonquinarts.org
3. For those who love the water, why not ring in the New Year aboard the Cornucopia Princess, which sails out of Perth Amboy at 9 p.m. and returns at 3 a.m. The amenities include an open premium bar, champagne toast, butler style hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, salad, and an entrée medley of filet mignon, salmon and chicken. To top it all off, there’s also a DJ, party favors and fireworks.
1-(800) 924-8477 or (732) 967-9500, www.cornucopiacruise.com
4. Want to do something fun with the kids? Bring them to iPlay America for a night of food and fun, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. For $59.95 per person, each family member can enjoy unlimited rides (includes iPA Speedway, Kite Flyer, Skyscraper, Spin Zone, Jump Around, Happy Swing & Dizzy Dragons); unlimited attractions (Cosmic Battle, 4D Theater and Just iKidz); and a sumptuous gourmet buffet (guests 21 and older can upgrade to an Open Bar Package featuring beer, wine and champagne toast for an additional $19.95).
110 Schanck Rd., Freehold, (732) 577-8200, www.iplayamerica.com
5. Those who are craving some beach time in the middle of winter, Ocean Place Resort & Spa offers a seaside celebration. Their New Year’s Eve package includes a four-course surf and turf dinner, followed by a trip to the After Party Lounge with DJ Eric Busch or to the New Year’s Night Club with Goldenseal. Watch the Times Square ball drop with family and friends, and enjoy a champagne toast at midnight. The cost is $75 for dinner and $20 for admission to the Night Club and Lounge. There’s also an overnight package for $399 a couple, which includes dinner for two, and access to the New Year’s Eve Night Club and After Party Lounge.
1 Ocean Blvd., Long Branch, (732) 571-4000, www.oceanplace.com
6 Fitness fanatics who want to start 2012 off on a healthy note might want to sign up for the Jersey Shore Running Club’s New Year’s Eve Twilight Run/Walk & Party. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a three-mile jaunt down the Asbury Park boardwalk and ends with a party at Porta Pizza. The cost is $30 for those who pre-register by December 20, and $35 on December 21 or after. This includes a special clothing item, one-hour open bar and a buffet provided by Porta, along with lots of prizes.
(732) 571-2162, www.jsrc.org.
7. Meetups have become a popular way of meeting people with similar interests, and what better way for singles to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with The Venue Meetup at the Original Oyster in Highlands. Those attending can pay a $10 cover charge and can enjoy dancing, drink specials and tasting items. For $27.95 (which includes the $10 cover charge, plus tax and gratuity), you can enjoy a full dinner of chicken, prime rib, seafood or vegetarian entrée options.
1 Willow St., Highlands, www.meetup.com/THE-VENUE
8. Going to the movies can be a great New Year’s Eve activity, especially when the film is aptly titled, New Year’s Eve. Directed by Garry Marshall, who is best know for Pretty Woman and Valentine’s Day, this multiple storyline romantic comedy has an all-star cast and celebrates love, friends and second chances. Check local theatre listings for showtimes.
9. Wine lovers who don’t mind venturing a little ways from home might want to check out the second annual New Year’s Eve Party for People Who Can’t Stay Up Late. The party is hosted by Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery located in Pilesgrove (Gloucester County), and features entertainment by Larry, Captain America and Esteban and the Dudes. Dinner, which is served between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at a cost of $25, includes a seafood appetizer, salad, chicken Marsala, dessert, coffee and more. Reservations are required. The party ends at 10 p.m. so you can watch the ball drop in the comfort of your own home.
117 Sharptown-Auburn Rd., Pilesgrove, (856) 769-WINE, www.auburnroadvineyards.com
10. Finally, for those who don’t want to leave home at all, why not invite a few friends over for an intimate dinner party—and let someone else do the work for you. Ocean-based Falco’s Catering has worked many New Year’s Eve parties for groups ranging from 20 to more than 100. The most popular format is a cocktail party, which consists of some sort of cold display like cheese and crackers, veggies and dip and other Hors d’oeuvres. This is followed by a mini meal – small individual portions of food served in cosmo glasses and passed around by the wait staff. The cost per person starts at around $25 and goes up from there, depending on food preferences and whether alcohol is part of the package.
(732) 660-9000, www.falcoscatering.com