By CBSNewYork Team

MILLBURN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The celebrations are different this year, but many people in New Jersey are still finding creative, festive ways to welcome 2021 in a simple and safe but memorable fashion.

As darkness fell on the final night of 2020, festive lights illuminated heated outdoor dining tents for two.

“We saw these tents and we figured, you know, it’s a nice way to make the — if we can’t get together with other people, at least it makes it special,” said Corey Biller, of Millburn.

“We’ve been home, we haven’t been going anywhere, and so the opportunity to do something in town that’s safe and fun is exciting,” Lisa Biller told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.

The Biller family says it’s a special day, so dessert came before dinner, thanks to Uncle Brett, who had his own plans for a 10:30 p.m. outdoor run with friends.

“We could kick in the new year with health but also get together in a safe way, being outside,” Brett Biller said.

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With no big parties allowed in a pandemic, restaurants that would normally be packed had to pivot, just like they’ve done since March.

“People are pre-ordering so they can spend New Year’s Eve at home but still feel like they’re part of the tradition,” said Sadije Husenaj, at Cara Mia restaurant.

COVID restrictions meant the restaurant celebrated with a ball drop at 9 p.m. because in New Jersey, the rule is all customers have to be out by 10 p.m., even on New Year’s Eve.

Jodi Rosenberg, of Millburn, said an early toast isn’t so bad as long as you’re with your nearest and dearest.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather be than under a heat lamp with one of my best friends, celebrating the new year early,” she said.

“You take away all the flairs and no parties in the city this year, no spending $200 on your outfit, and you really can just focus on your friends and family,” said Roger Gousse, who was visiting New Jersey.

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Stores were crowded up until closing with people perusing the platters and party décor. Sarah Hoogerwerf and Jordan Sweeney hit Party Line in Summit for some last-minute must-haves, pointing out what decorations they liked from the outside of the COVID-conscious business.

“A fun little banner, this cool champagne balloon, so… spice up the night a little,” Hoogerwerf said.

They’re looking forward to some bubbly at home with those who’ve been in their bubble.

“Can’t go out to the clubs or the bars, but, you know, there’s nobody else I’d rather spend my New Year’s with than these people,” Sweeney said.

So whether it’s a cocktail with close friends or watching the ball drop by the fire with family, here’s to starting the new year smart with a small, safe celebration.

Jessica Layton contributed to this report.


CBSNewYork Team