Your New Year’s Eve 2018 Dining Decider + Planning Tips for the Perfect Celebration

New Year's Eve 2018 dining

It’s coming – New Year’s Eve 2018 is almost upon us. And, fittingly, it’s one of the most popular dining days of the year. Whether you want a night out on the town worthy of an LBD and your best threads or a low-key evening where food is the highlight of the night, OpenTable has you covered with thousands of restaurants – and the right one for you awaits.

The majority of diners book their New Year’s Eve plans 10 days¹ in advance, so be sure you don’t let holiday shopping and the hustle and bustle of the season distract you from securing the perfect reservation to ring in 2019. Although  22% of diners booked their table same-day for New Year’s Eve  2017, diners were 2x more likely to book in advance compared to the rest of 2017. But even if you don’t book on or before December 21, we’ve still got you covered — even up until the 31st.

To help you get started, we’ve got some tips for planning for the perfect New Year’s Eve dining experience – and a trusty decider as well.

Look and book early. Because this is one of the most popular days for dining out, reservations are snapped up early, particularly for prime times and hot spots. Start making your plans today so you don’t miss out on your top pick, keeping in mind that demand may increase after  December 21.

Count it out before the countdown. Be sure to get an accurate headcount of the revelers joining you on the big night as demand for prime reservations is high and availability dwindles the closer you get to the 31 and you don’t want a friend or loved one to get shut out. If you’re dining in a group, secure your plans sooner rather than later as we saw an increase of 5% in party sizes of 4 or more compared to the rest of the year.

Dollars and sense. Do some math before booking to set your budget so you don’t wind up starting the new year in the red. You can peruse special menus on OpenTable.com. Be sure to account for alcohol, tax, and gratuity (if not included in prices). Deals are plentiful, also. And, while a lot of diners opt to go all out on New Year’s Eve, [as compared to the rest of the year] we’ve seen a 5% increase in diners choosing restaurants where the average meal price is $30 and under.

Think about drink. All-inclusives can be incredible deals for those of us who like to bend our elbows often that night, but if you or members of your party are teetotalers, look for dining options that allow you to order drinks a la carte.

When the clock strikes midnight. Think about where you want to be exactly at midnight. Some of us like being in the thick of things, while others like to welcome the new year from the comfort of our sofas after a delicious meal out. Look for reservation times that will put you where you want to be when the new year arrives. Keep in mind, too, that people tend to dine later on New Year’s Eve. For New Year’s Eve 2017, we saw a 67% increase in the percentage of reservations from 8-10PM compared to the same time slot for the rest of the year. So book early to secure prime time tables.

Don’t forget your diet(ary needs). If you’ve got food allergies or sensitivities or you’re a picky eater, carefully study menus for any items that are your nemeses. If you’re in doubt as to whether a restaurant can accommodate your needs, call the restaurant before booking and ask to speak to a manager or a chef.

Be flexible. If your favorite restaurant lacks availability for a particular time, but your heart is set on that spot, dine earlier or later and plan something fun before or after, like a movie or seeing live music. If you live in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C., you may need to be even more flexible on times as those are the cities with the greatest number of reservations on December 31, according to New Year’s Eve 2017 data.

Need more help picking the perfect type of restaurant for your New Year’s Eve? Use our New Year’s Eve 2018 Dining Decider for an assist from the experts at OpenTable.

New Year's Eve 2018 dining

Wherever you landed, we’ve got inspiration aplenty below.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants:

Have relatives in town? Need a place to celebrate with the kids? Head to one of these family-friendly restaurants, perfect for all ages in America or Canada. And check out our round-up for more details on kid-friendly New Year’s Eve happenings at other restaurants on OpenTable.

Most Romantic Restaurants:

If you’re looking for a night of canoodling with your main squeeze, one of 2018’s Most Romantic Restaurants in America or Canada will help set the mood for that New Year’s kiss. For more options, read our round-up of more restaurants perfect for a romantic New Year’s Eve celebration.

Restaurants for a Big Night Out:

If you plan to party past the ball drop, get your night rolling at one of this year’s Best Restaurants for a Big Night Out in the U.S. or Canada. You can find additional restaurants for a party to remember on New Year’s Eve in this round-up.

Neighborhood Gems:

Feel like having a game night with friends or watching the ball drop in your PJs? Check out these neighborhood gems for inspiration, and search on OpenTable to find a delicious and relaxing meal for a lo-fi way to top off your year.

And, if you’re brunching on New Year’s Day, snag a seat at one of the 100 Best Brunch restaurants in the States or the CA.

Whatever kind of experience you want to have, OpenTable is here to help you find the right restaurant for your night. Let us know where you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve 2018 here in the comments or over on FacebookInstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway

[1]All data presented in this press release is based on OpenTable reservation, seated diner, and restaurant search data from 2017.

Photo credit: Jeff Marini (Nacional 27).