15 Lazy New Years Eve Party Tips. For a middle aged lazy and frugal Cowbag.


Ok so I’m in my 40’s and we don’t want a Rave or Orgy anymore… we also don’t want ( can’t be arsed) a formal dinner party or cocktail party….Similarly I’m not planning on the house been filled with drunken 20 somethings throwing up in my plant pots and snogging each other … but I do want to do New Year and I am having a house full again at new year..

I want my friends around me, I want a laugh and I want us all to be together without anyone getting stressed out…

I’m a prolific lazy Cowbag so know how to make things easy, cheap and effective!

Here are my  tips to a lazy and effective middled aged party.

15- Only invite people you know and like.


You really don’t have to invite anyone just to be polite… your house your rules.

Inviting people you know well and who can relax and have fun with while knowing they won’t steal your family silver or fall asleep in your bath.

We all have relatives and friends that need keeping apart or they’d be falling out with everyone about football , Brexit or the finer details of Fracking. Its ok to choose who you want to spend time with… its not a crime.

14-Don’t start too early.


If you start the party at 7pm you have 5 hours to kill before the new year hits…people will all stay for the new year and thats the crux of the night, start at about 9pm, you have time to have a drink and get giddy without getting blotto and losing guests to sleep

13- Tell everyone (not ask) to bring booze! 


If you ‘ask’ your guest to “feel free to bring a bottle” … you don’t know if they will or not…will you have enough????  The risk of running out of booze on new years eve is the stuff of nightmares, so you will end up buying it all anyway ‘just in case’.

 You will have to buy everything.. beer (lager and bitter) wine (all colours) cider, spirits, mixers and juices… if you state “bring enough booze for yourself and we will share” it’s friendly and direct.

Make it clear that everyone should bring booze!!!.. I normally say “Bring enough booze for yourself and we can all share it” Do this and you will only need to buy what you will drink yourself… you always end up with loads left over too! always a bonus!

12: Make it a joint effort with food with a healthy dose of competition! 


Tell everyone you are having a food competition, tell them to bring either a sweet or savoury and hold a vote at the end of the night. 

Our table is like something from Master Chef and Great British Bake Off on New Years Eve,

We all love trying to impress each other with food and skills… we love to share food and  and we totally love laughing at disasters too!!!

Offer silly prizes and different awards, It’s great fun and everyone shares their skills and you’ll have a feast without spending all day in the kitchen and spending a bomb at Asda.

11- Make life easy for clearing up!

il_fullxfull.356753869_6lio.jpgUse paper plates, bowls and cups/glasses, tie bin bags everywhere and just keep filling them… it will make life so much easier in the morning.

When folks say ‘do you need help’ say yes !

10- Atmosphere and Decor


Easy! You will still be decorated from Christmas, so add candles in containers everywhere and turn off the lights to add atmosphere. Have different music in each room so there is a different vibe in each place… its easy. ( see Getting outside below)

9-Get outside

Open the garden up, build a camp fire, put out deck chairs, cover with blankets and cushions  pull the benches close and put rugs son the floor over tarps… pile up blankets and throws and fill the garden with candles in jars… if you know musicians get them to bring their instruments and you will find the house will be empty! An idea to warn guests to come in warm clothing.

8- Crap fireworks 


It’s obligatory at our house that our fireworks are really shit! 

It’s hilarious waiting for them to go off and do something and then watching the kids laugh historically when you adults all pretend it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen! Lots of frantic oohs and ahhs as well as over-dramatic reading of the names and descriptions on each firework.. one year we were setting chit fireworks off one by one for an hour…

NB; This year we have some good ones.. we are all disappointed! 

7- Involve the teens and let them invite a friend.


It is important for teens to see adults having a good time without taking drugs or getting absolutely blotto. They love feeling equal to adults older than them and they engage really well when given the chance. If they are shy or need some back up, let them bring a friend, it will keep them happy and comfortable. Ask the parents what their rules on alcohol consumption is if they are under 18. We allow our 15 year old a couple of drinks with us, but not all parents do… its good to be clear of what their expectations are or you will end up with a teen ‘spreading their wings’ big style and you sending them home to Mum and Dad with an empty tesco bag (just in case)

6- Invite the little kids with their parents.


No need to keep the kids with babysitters, let them join in! They can sit and enjoy the campfire, join in the daftness.. they love been involved in adult conversation and adore it when they see their adults been silly! 

When they get tired, they can bring pjs and go to bed… make a bedroom up for them all, cushions, blankets and mattresses, bowls of sweets and a number of dvds… if there are loads and they are all different ages they will look after each other. These are the parties that make memories for life.

5- Countdown to Big Ben on Radio 4.


Forget your cheesy tv countdown.. get outside and turn radio 4 up loads.. we all have fond memories of listening to the bongs of Big Ben on a crackling radio… and if you are outside, when it does turn midnight you can pop corks and let off streamers without worrying about the mess. Just sweep it all up the next day… or the next week…

Also you probably all have more room outside to all be together and not spread over various rooms in the house… and of course you can enjoy the fireworks too.

4- Acknowledge your traditions and share with your friends.


My husband is half Irish and half Italian.. he has two traditions we now do every year and now our friends adore playing along. 

First one (Italian) is that you must be outside to see in the new year and the first person to enter the house must take in wood (for fuel) and silver (for money) at our house now, all our friends cheer when one of our kids goes through the door with the package…

Secondly we have new year fairies (Irish) the children put their slippers under the Christmas tree when they go to bed and the new year fairy fills them with treats for when they wake! 

3- Invite everyone to stay! 


It may fill you with dread but folks will be greatful for the offer and not having to drive or pay expensive cab fees.

Tell them to bring air beds and bedding and fit them where you can. If you are a close friendship group like us, you’ll have a great time ‘indoor camping’ 

Also it allows everyone to really relax, we often end up sitting playing cards or watching videos till dawn, we get the left overs out and if some wants to go to bed they can… it’s much easier to just move in and have fun…everyone relaxes.

We like people feel at home, and having somewhere to go and have some peace and quiet through the night is really important to helping people relax. I generally try and show folks to their rooms before they party so they can set up home and feel like it belongs to them for the day.

2- Mornings are special


New Years morning is just as special for me, we put the Radio on and sit around eating breakfast, drinking copious amount of tea and have a generally gentle time. It’s a lovely way to start the year.

1- don’t be afraid to relax and have a great time! .


You don’t have to be the perfect host.. in fact if you serve and offer all night folks will feel formal and less welcome.. I always say.. ” I serve the first drink then you help yourself” it breaks the ice and instantly give folks permission to treat your home like their own. 

I don’t invite anyone I don’t trust or don’t love dearly, so I don’t have to worry about my house or belongings as I know my friends will all treat my home like their own. 

So you have to relax and enjoy too or what’s the point in spending time with everyone. Remember everyone is capable of looking after themselves so let them just do that! 

Have a great time and Happy new year!!!!

Are festivals the safest place to take drugs? 

I’m very blessed to have had the opportunity to bring my children up in a festival environment..they have experienced the best festivals can offer , the people, the acceptance and the creative community.
But then we don’t do
Leeds/reading, v festival, park life festival or similar, they are very different kettles of fish. My children have been around drugs. Not that me or their father partake, we are clean as a whistle,we talk to them too. 

We don’t hide it, drug taking happens, we answer their questions and tell them the truth. But there is no doubt they have seen the dealers and takers and unfortunately the negative outcomes too. 

From my experience it’s not the older drug takers that are an issue, the older folks are the more experienced they are, the more they spend on their ‘meds’ , the more likely they know and trust its source. But young festivals, where 16 to 18 year olds take leave of their parents for their first weekend of freedom are more vulnerable in their excitement to experiment. 

They don’t know the difference between good and bad ‘shit’ and they don’t know what their bodies and minds can handle. They don’t know who they are buying from and actually what to expect! 

We have seen some messes, even at the ‘tamer’ festivals, we’ve seen some very scary messes over the last ten years of travelling the circuit! It’s not pretty and if can be scary! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve smelt death in the air! 

As a none drug taker it’s easy to get frustrated when your friends are having a ‘great time’ with the help of their chosen compound , not realising that they are boring as shit when their buzz sets in and they are staring into middle space, not keeping up with conversation, slurring their words and actually only partying in their own heads! But we are lucky enough to never see them get in such a state we had to get them help or keep them safe. To be honest we tend to have left them to it long before this could happen and settle for some good conversation and laughs on our own, where we are high on life and the moment. 

All this aside I don’t think parents should stop their kids going to the ‘rites of passage’ events. You see their kids have their own minds and they are more educated about drugs than we ever were. Frankly if they are going to use they will find a way to use wether it’s in a field with 25,000 others or at home on a park bench with their closest pals. 

Parents should rest at ease..a festival environment is actually the safest place to experiment with drugs, With trained welfare teams on hand, security, stewards and medics all watching armed with radios and festival awareness , having a bad experience both mentally and physically doesn’t leave you as vulnerable as it would elsewhere.

Outside of the fields finding and requesting help ( if you can physically talk) is less likely when you are in a club or a private party. Not only do you need to find courage to phone 999 or come clean to a family member or friend, you are at risk of prosecution , something festivals tend to avoid. They are more interested the dealers, not the takers. 

Also you are among groups of others when you’re at a festival. Festivals are great for bringing people together and it’s not like been in the street.. Folks don’t just walk past you if your in trouble. Different genres at events and different music and crowds tend to bring similar ages and accepting groups together. This allows great community spirit and peer support should you find your self in drug fueled trouble. Our experience shows that folks in trouble are brough to the attention of staff very quickly. 

This is less likely in the ‘outside world’ with such mixed groups of people and fear of prosecution as well as the stigma of drug and alcohol users, it comes as no surprise that folks will just walk on by leaving you lay in the gutter needing help. 

Many festivals are now offering testing facilities, where substances can be checked to ensure they are safe to take. At a recent event we attended I chatted to (a very busy ) welfare team. It had been a super messy night, folks were littered around puking, crying, shaking, passed out. It looked like a war zone! Welfare told me a bad batch of Ketamine was the cause , they didn’t know what it had been mixed with but it was having a rotten effect. We were guarding our pitch from serial urination and general aggressors while they told us how the team were frustrated. Welfare had the kit to test substances but the production team didn’t want to spend the extra money on the service…. not many do. It’s a shame and I think it’s something that will come in the future. 

Festivals need to take responsibility to do what they can to ensure their guests are safe, if there is drug taking at their event and vulnerable young adults as their customers, then they need to consider it their duty to ensure they minimise the negative effects. 

So as news came in that another young person lost their life to drugs at Leeds festival, and I read about how parents are terrified about their children’s safety, I think of the professionals who had to deal with that awful situation and hope the organisers across the uk  take heed and think about what they can do to stop this or at least do everything they can to minimise the risk! . Another lesson learned we hope. If festival producers and councils spent as much time worrying about the welfare of their clients as they did about sound levels and car parking, festivals would have a much better reputation. 

My girls are both at Leeds this weekend and I’m pretty sure they are been safe, but what do I know? I was young once and remember how invincible  I felt! The only thing to do is to hope that if they need it, they get support and gentle care.  We can then rest assured there are plenty of qualified and able folks on site to look after them… If, of course.. The purse strings were opened for them!