An Unelectric Boogaloo
December 16, 2013 9:28 AM   Subscribe

What are some activities and technologies that I could use for a completely non-electric New Year's Eve party?

I'm planning on hosting a non-electronic New Year's Eve party- lit only by candles and with no tv. Everyone is meant to bring an analog activity to entertain the rest of the group, but I'd love to have some suggestions so that there's plenty to fill up the evening. I've suggested to the group that they bring a joke, a magic trick, a song, a musical instrument, a performance, a science experiment, a meditation, a reading... the sky's the limit- this can be performative or something for the group to do together. I'd like there to be a wide variety of activities. For example, is there a way I could do a candlelit picture show? An entire shadow puppet narrative? Maybe a crankie?

The other suggestion I'd love is for some non tech ways to provide music and a countdown for the evening. I'm somewhat at a loss for the music part, besides just having live music, which we will do for part of the evening but won't be feasible for the whole thing. I've been thinking of water clocks or candle clocks for the countdown, but would love your brainstormed ideas.

One piece of data: I'm not sure if this will affect answers but I'm in New York City which means that there are probably certain activities that are not as do-able (stargazing, for example).

posted by Polyhymnia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you find one of those old wind-up grammophones?

What about a high-wattage petroleum fuelled lamp? Those are very bright, probably bright enough for shadow puppets.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:07 AM on December 16, 2013

As for live music, I think if you had some people just willing to bring/leave instruments around it will happen somewhat naturally. This has always been my experience. Scatter an old guitar, a kids' organ or toy piano, a ukelele or two, a banjo, a mandolin or whatever around, and add in some easy rhythm instruments - castanets, shekeres, rattles, sandblocks, cowbells, maybe a snare drum and brushes - and your crowd will make music themselves. Alternatively, maybe a hand-crank record player? Music boxes around?

For the slide show, yes you can - Google Magic Lanterns for DIY directions.

For the countdown, I'm not sure why a big old-fasioned wind-up clock wouldn't work. They were around long before electricity.

IT's an awesome theme.
posted by Miko at 10:46 AM on December 16, 2013

How about kamishibai?

And I agree with Miko about DIY music likely going on as long as anyone is in the mood for it.
posted by wintersweet at 11:57 AM on December 16, 2013

Just... nothing. Or at least for an hour or two around the countdown. It's such a good idea you don't need anything else. Allow the culture-shock of being unplugged to be the entertainment itself. Have your guests leave their electronic devices at the door. A simple musical instrument and some natural light. Listen to the city outside for the countdown.
posted by 0 answers at 12:04 PM on December 16, 2013

A party game? Apples to Apples (or, depending on your crowd, its much less SFW cousin, Cards against Humanity) have always been great for "I have a bunch of people who all want to join in on something entertaining"-type events with my family.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 4:34 PM on December 16, 2013

Response by poster: Just wanted to let you know that the party was a great success! We lit the whole room with candles, and compromised and used a record player for music. The atmosphere seemed to really encourage deep discussion and people had a great time. Thanks for all of your suggestions!
posted by Polyhymnia at 12:39 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Polyhymnia, your question actually inspired me to organise an unplugged New Year's Eve at our local hackerspace, and it was great fun. So thank you for asking!

We had a grammophone, kerosine lamps and candles, and we played board games and made tea and mulled wine on the woodstove. Glad to hear you had a good time, too!
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:00 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's such a great party idea - I'm definitely going to "steal" it, too.
posted by Miko at 8:29 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older How do I welcome two teenagers from Kazakhstan?   |   Turn up the music: rent vs. buy speakers for a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.