New Year’s Eve sparkles: What to wear, how to choose a champagne and how to handle a hangover

New Year’s Eve, the final holiday of 2011 , is typically a night of champagne toasts, sparkly outfits and midnight kisses.

Deciding what to wear to a New Year’s Eve party? More than any other holiday, this is the night to break out your shiny gear; sequins, glitter, sparkles and metallics are all acceptable.

Gallery

Gallery

For inspiration, explore this photo gallery of celebrities sporting shimmery outfits, including Taylor Swift’s striped, strapless frock, Paula Patton’s long-sleeved sequins and Beyonce’s cobalt-blue mini. Cara Kelly over at Arts Post has a round up of more New Year’s Eve fashion tips.

A champagne toast at midnight is the classic way to ring in the New Year. Real champagne, explains wine columnist Dave McIntyre, must come from the Champagne region of France — otherwise, it’s just sparkling wine. If you’re after a true champagne, he has a list of recommended champagnes, and explains a secret to choosing a good bottle .. But for budget-minded consumers, he notes that many sparkling wines offer good quality for a fraction of the price and offers tips on finding the best brand:

Look for “the neighbors.” If champagne is too pricey but you want to stay French, look for sparkling wines from other regions, such as Alsace, Bourgogne (Burgundy) or the Loire. Those wines are called “cremant,” and they are made by the same method as champagne, with the secondary fermentation producing the bubbles in the bottle, though they might not be made with the same grape varieties. They often are quite excellent and range from $15 to $25.

Second, look for other countries that specialize in sparkling wines. Spain’s cava and Italy’s prosecco are ideal choices for celebrating any day’s minor victories or just for starting off dinner with a smile. The best-known cava is probably Freixenet’s Cordon Negro, which is widely available, inexpensive and rather cloyingly sweet. Most cavas are dry, often austere; they might be delicate or robust, but they are always inexpensive, ranging from about $8 to $20.

Sparkling wine is so popular that winemakers around the world produce their own versions. California makes some to rival champagne in complexity and price, but the real bargains can be found by way of some unexpected places. In Oregon, Argyle winery produces a delightful brut sparkler with an intensity of fruit that reminds me of the Domaine Chandon Etoile from Napa Valley. The Etoile costs about $40, but you can find the Argyle for $25 or less. Read more and find out which two sparkling wines (just $10 a bottle) McIntyre recommends.

With all that bubbly comes a high chance of New Year’s Day hangover. The Associated Press reports on hangover cures (and how to avoid a hangover all together). Among the tips in their story:

• “The only way to prevent a hangover is to not get drunk,” said Boston University researcher Jonathan Howland.

• Don’t drink on an empty stomach, said Sam Zakhari, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s metabolism and health effects division. Food helps absorb alcohol and delay its toxic effects on the body. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after also helps because alcohol can dehydrate the body.

• Some people think choosing clear alcohols is safer, because darker-colored drinks contain more compounds called congeners. That is based on an unproven theory that those compounds cause the body to make toxins that upset the stomach and cause other hangover symptoms, said Howland.

• Zakhari advises calling in sick ... “I have seen some people go to work with a hangover and their output is somewhere between zero and 1,” he said.

In November, The Post’s Katie Rogers reported on a “hangover pill” approved by the FDA. She wrote:

The pill is called Blowfish, and creator Brenna Haysom promises that it’ll kick nagging hangover pains — headache, upset stomach — in 15 to 30 minutes. According to the The New York Daily News, Blowfish tablets consist of 1,000 milligrams of aspirin, 120 milligrams of caffeine and a stomach-soothing agent split up into two tablets designed for consumption the morning after a night of heavy drinking.

Other sparkly New Year’s traditions? Watching the Times Square ball drop with Dick Clark. The Associated Press reports on the star-laden 40th anniversary of “New Year’s Rockin Eve”:

“New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” with Clark and Ryan Seacrest, pays tribute to its own history during a sprawling, nearly six-hour program Saturday night. The celebration takes up all of prime time on ABC, breaks for a half-hour of local news, then comes back on the air for two and a quarter hours that includes the ball dropping in New York City’s Times Square to mark the beginning of 2012.

In all, 29 separate musical performances are planned.

This year’s headliner is Lady Gaga, who gets the prime slot in Times Square in the moments before midnight. Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Hot Chelle Rae, Florence + The Machine, Gym Class Heroes, Nicki Minaj and Taio Cruz are among the other featured performers from New York and Los Angeles. Beyonce is scheduled to perform from London, where she’s on tour. (Read more)

If staying in with the TV isn’t your style, the Going out Gurus have advice on where to celebrate New Year’s in Washington:

Fritz Hahn has a list of the 12 best places to go for New Year’s Eve in the District, Virginia and Maryland. Want to see a band, get out with the family or get a safe ride home? The Gurus have advice on that, too.

Elizabeth Flock of BlogPost has a roundup of other year-end “drop” traditions, and a lament for Washingtonians. She writes:

In Washington, however, there’s been no annual midnight drop in recent memory. Perhaps that can be blamed on our inferiority complex to New York, whose spectacular ball drop is in our time zone. Maybe it’s because we expect Maryland and Virginia to pick up the slack. Or is it that there’s no clear symbol of Washington we’d feel confident dropping to ring in the New Year?

It’s a rather embarassing oversight on our part, especially when you see how many cities have a midnight drop ...

This new year, let’s make a resolution to figure out what object Washington should claim as its own to drop on New Year’s Eve. ... Tell us on Twitter, using the hashtag #DCDrop.

 
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