A new and different New Year’s Eve

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

As the New Year draws near, a sigh of relief is anticipated, along with the hopeful promises of a fresh start.

While end-of-year celebrations are likely to look different due a lack of gathering in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Year’s Eve parties have an opportunity to be festive, with champagne flowing, hors d’oeuvres to be consumed, and the celebratory props of noisemakers, colorful hats and yes, masks, ever present.

The key is following safety guidelines.

Here are a few tips:

The great outdoors

If being outdoors is in your comfort zone, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, ice skating and warming up next to a bonfire might fit the bill, while social distancing and wearing masks.

Locations including Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque hope to provide such ambiance as an outdoor option.

“We continue to monitor local, state and national health directives related to COVID-19 and plan to implement procedures appropriate to the directives as they evolve,” said General Manager Mark Gordon. “A safe, healthy and enjoyable ski and snowboarding season will require patient cooperation from all our team members and guests.”

Close to home

Staying put and plugging in might be another option if you and your family are choosing to play it safe.

If you have children, consider a game of

dress-up. Or, dress down in PJs from the comfort of your living room while connecting with friends and family virtually.

Rules and regulations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched an “Events and Gatherings Readiness and Planning Tool” at

cdc.gov. Also available is coronavirus.iowa.gov, which targets state guidelines.

“This is a very useful and informative 101 about the safety and wellness of guests when planning any get together,” said medical director and state epidemiologist Caitlin Pedati.

Another reminder: If you are planning to consume alcohol, be sure to have a designated driver. Or, take advantage of local taxi services.

Party favors

If you plan to host a humble gathering, include a personal breathalyzer, extra masks and hand sanitizer. If you are feeling ill or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home.

“We’re asking (everyone) to continue following public health measures, such as washing your hands frequently, avoiding close contact with others and wearing a face covering when social distancing isn’t possible,” Pedati said. “These tried and true measures really work, and we need you to do your part to protect yourself and those you love from getting sick.”

Vickie Yates Kouzmanoff is a freelance writer from Elizabeth, Ill.

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