21 Things to Do on New Year's Day That Will Fill Your Soul

Updated 12/21/18
two women walking arm in arm in a cross walk
This Time Tomorrow

The onset of New Year's Day can come with planning perplexities. You might ask yourself, How will I start the year? And if I don’t do something spectacular, could that be a premonition of what’s to come? When actually, New Year’s Day, as originally founded, should be a simple holiday to reflect on the good things from years past and to set intentions for more good things in the year to come.

But looking for something to do to start the New Year off—in a way that is meaningful to you—can feel like a burden, especially with unnecessary societal pressure. So in an effort to pacify your New Year’s Day planning anxiety, we’ve come up with a list of 21 ideas fit for anyone in any emotional or physical (hangovers welcome) state. Whether you're looking for a wellness retreat or need to spend the day in hibernation, as long as you do you, 2019 is yours for the taking. 

a woman sitting on a rock overlooking trees, looking out at the vista
This Time Tomorrow

Society will tell you that New Year's Day is the perfect day to set resolutions. But if resolutions don't work for you, or if you're coming up short on identifying them, try something a little more fun. Fill out your 2019 calendar by penciling in three to four trips, events, or concerts that you want to go to this year.

What better way to start off a healthy new year than a calorie-burning hike up to a beautiful lookout point to dream about the year ahead. Don’t live near any hills or hiking trails? A brisk sunset walk can be just as refreshing.

Can there be anything more cathartic than purging your closet? Don’t settle for anything less than clothes that make you feel like the best version of yourself. Get rid of the old and make room for new wardrobe pieces that will go with the ever-evolving you in the New Year. Plus, you can kick it off by making a generous clothing donation to your community.

If you’d like to detox after the holiday binge, meal prep can the perfect way to start right. Spend time baking, chopping, and sautéeing in bulk. Make sure to include lots of greens to help ward off winter colds.

prepped meals of sesame chicken and broccoli
Gimme Some Oven

New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone, but if you’re a goal setter, this day is your playground. Write out your resolutions including the dates you want to achieve them. Make sure each goal attainable and mark your calendar with progressing dates to get you there.

Update your social media accounts by editing your bios, handles, and taking down any photos you no longer want publicly seen. A quickly refined rebrand can actually be a good way to set your intentions for the year—describe both the person you are and who you strive to be.

If You’re Feeling Like Easing Into the New Year…

You’ve got a whole 365 days ahead of you, so feel free to pace yourself and start the year off slowly with enjoyable yet relaxed activities.

Stretch and elongate your body with an hour (or more) of yoga. It’s the perfect balance of mindful reflection and exercise to ease into the year.

New Year's pomegranate champagne cocktail
Joyful Healthy Eats

Whether you want to have a healthy start to your day or share a hair-of-the-dog mimosa with friends, a nice long breakfast or brunch—solo or with friends—is a relaxed and delightful way to start the year. Depending on what’s available, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.

Let’s admit it, if there is one day of the year that a movie marathon binge is culturally accepted, it’s New Year's Day. Cozy up with the best movies of 2018 or with the latest new drama series.

Start the year off with roaring laughter and entertainment by hosting a game or party day with friends or family. If you aren’t sure which games to select, Cards Against Humanity or Taboo can always please a crowd.

fried egg and bean tacos
Joyful Healthy Eats

Make a refreshing start to the year with a wellness day. If the spas are closed or booked up, plan a morning to evening regenerating day. Start with an easy-to-make smoothie followed by morning yoga. Spend the afternoon cooking up a healthy late brunch, taking a long nature walk followed by soaking in a hot bath, then, exhale the past year away and inhale the year to come.

If You’re Feeling Down About Another New Year…

While celebrating New Year’s can be joyous for some, for others it can be hard. Perhaps over this past year, life hasn’t turned out the way you’d hoped. Or maybe holidays are an especially difficult time for you (very common, by the way). If this is the case, planning a feel-good New Year’s Day can help prevent feeling down or alone.

As a way to lift your spirits practice gratitude. Call two friends or family members who made you feel special last year and thank them for it. Or simply journal five things you’re grateful for from 2018 or five people you want to reconnect with in 2019. Sometimes connecting with others that love you can be just the thing to put a smile on your face.

a woman walking her dog in a park
This Time Tomorrow

Whether yours or a neighbor's,  spend time with animals as they are proven to be highly therapeutic. Take your dog for a long walk or cuddle up with your cat—enjoy their simple company.

If you can’t manage to get yourself outside, whether for lack of warmth or energy, there are plenty of things you can do in the comfort of your own home. Cozy up with a few feel-good books or organize old photos into albums and relish in good memories.

Meditation can be one of the most effective helpful tools in increasing serotonin, presence and perspective on life, so sit by your window to meditate. If meditation doesn't work for you, simply study the movement outside or light a candle and study the flame. This can have an equally calming effect.

a woman in a teal dress walking down a sidewalk, seen from behind
This Time Tomorrow

Sometimes watching the world operate and pass by can give great perspective. Jump on a bus or other mode of public transportation and just see where it takes you. You may choose to get off or just ride the day away. Pay attention to the rhythm of the world around you or zone out with a great soundtrack.

Saunter throughout the day by taking a long walk, whether solo listening to an audiobook, or with a good friend. Take your time re-exploring your neighborhood, people watch, and move your body. A night walk can be especially regenerating for a fresh start.

To support you in your planning efforts, we curated a few things you may need for your best New Year's Day yet.  

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle $80
Shop
Ninja Nutri Pro Personal Blender
Ninja Nutri Pro Personal Blender $60
Shop
We/Me The Zen Stretch-Jersey Track Pants
We/Me The Zen Stretch-Jersey Track Pants $105 $74
Shop
MZ Wallace Metro Matt Quilted Shell Yoga Bag
MZ Wallace Metro Matt Quilted Shell Yoga Bag $125
Shop

Related Stories