It's hard to believe, but 2016 is almost here. You'll want to make it a fun and safe year for your family and you, including when you ring it in on New Year's Eve.
Whether you are heading out to a party, your favorite restaurant, or staying home with your kids or grandchildren, you'll want to make sure that everyone is having a good time. That includes making a lot of noise, watching the rest of the world celebrate their New Year's Eves, and sharing a toast with the people you love.
To help you do that, we've compiled a bunch of apps, gadgets and websites that'll ensure your New Year's celebration is loud and stylish. You can make cocktails, fill your home with music (and maybe disco lights), and then ensure everyone gets home safely.
Watch New Year's Eve celebrations
No matter where you ring in the New Year, it doesn't feel official unless you watch the ball drop in New York City's Times Square. You might watch it on TV, like you've been doing for years, but that's not always convenient.
If you're out at a restaurant, they might not show the Times Square ball. If you're spending the evening with your kids or grandchildren, they may not even watch broadcast TV anymore (although you can always bring along an HD antenna to pick up free HD broadcasts).
Fortunately, you can watch the raucous celebration in New York City, including the partying before the ball drops, and experience the countdown to midnight. With the Times Square Official New Year's Eve Ball apps for Android and iOS, or from its official website, Times Square Ball, you can watch the celebration from your phone or tablet.
Or, you can watch worldwide celebrations on EarthCam's site and apps. They'll be streaming live video and audio from webcams around the United States and world, including a few in Times Square. (Watch this clip from EarthCam's 2013 Times Square ball drop.)
What's a party without some noise? If you're thinking, "noisemakers" and envisioning horns you blow into, or loud toys you spin around, you're not thinking about New Year's Eve celebrations in the Internet era.
Today, noisemakers are apps you download to your smartphone. If you've got an Android smartphone, you can install this New Year's Eve Noise Maker for free. It's a quick and easy installation. Plus, you won't get lightheaded blowing into the real deal. If you've got an iPhone, try the Happy New Year's Ringtones & Sounds for just $0.99.
Of course, you're going to need music. To get people in the mood for a good time, start with the Lava Lite Mini Mirror Ball light on Amazon for just $10.
Then, use your smartphone and a powerful wireless speaker to fill your house with your favorite music. If your party heads outside, or if you head back indoors when it gets cold, you'll want to be able to take your tunes with you.
That's when the Komando Connect Bluetooth Speaker really comes in handy. It uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly play music from your smartphone. At just 1.5 pounds, the Komando Connect Bluetooth Speaker is easy to move around, but it makes a powerful sound. You can even add a second speaker for incredible stereo sound.
See last year's New Year's Eve celebrations across the globe:
Make a toast
You know a couple of things going into New Year's Eve: You're going to struggle to open the bottles of champagne you've got chilling in the fridge. And, at some point, someone is going to ask you to make a cocktail, and you'll have no idea how to make it.
Don't worry about the champagne. Instead of handing over bottles to the strongest person at your party, and hoping for the best, try a really cool champagne bottle opener.
One we like is the Le Creuset Sparkling Wine Opener. For about $27 on Amazon, it will easily get the job of popping the cork done, and it'll look great doing it. It has a sleek, modernist design that'll certainly impress your guests. (See photo.)
If your guests ask for cocktails, though, you'll need to be handy behind the bar. Don't worry if you don't know the difference between a Harvey Wallbanger and a Cosmopolitan. The free Mixology app for Android and iOS will help you figure it out.
Just find the name of the drink you want to make and Mixology tells you which ingredients to put in, and when to put them in. It has more than 7,900 cocktail recipes, so you'll be covered, no matter what your guests request. Or, use Mixology's liquor cabinet function, for help making cocktails from the ingredients you've got on hand.
Bonus: If you need even more help making cocktails, Pure Imagination's Perfect Drink (Amazon, $50) is a gadget and smartphone app that guides you through each step of making a cocktail. Choose from hundreds of recipes. Then, place your glass on the Perfect Drink device, and it will tell you which ingredients to put in, and when to stop pouring. (See video.)
Get home safe
Once your party is over, make sure your guests have a safe trip home. Or, if you're going out on New Year's Eve, make sure you have plans for a safe trip home.
Make sure you have your favorite ride-sharing apps on your smartphone. Our sponsor, Uber, and its competitor Lyft are great options. Just tap the app, and have a driver show up in their car to take you home. Note: Ask about surge pricing on New Year's Eve before you book your ride because it might make it more expensive than you planned.
Bonus: To make sure you get home safely in style, why not splurge for one night? With the app RedCap, you can have a driver take you to and from your location in your car. It costs $20 to join, plus $35 per hour. It's currently available in South Florida and the San Francisco Bay area.
If you're driving yourself home, you'll want to make sure you're OK to drive. If you've had a cocktail or two, make sure you can safely get in a car. You can use a breathalyzer, like the keychain Breathometer Breeze ($61 on Amazon), and its Breathometer Breeze smartphone app.
Breathe into the Breathometer and it measures the alcohol concentration in your blood. If it's high, your Breathometer will estimate when it will come back down to a safe level.
No matter if you've had a drink or not, you want to make sure you record your trip home. If someone crashes into you, you'll need evidence to prove your innocence.
For that, the Vehicle Dash Cam and Collision Warning Device in the Komando Shop is a must. (See photo.) The Dash Cam mounts to your dashboard and records in 1080p HD for footage you can transfer to any PC. Plus, it has a collision warning system, and built-in GPS that records your speed. Note: Use the code
Binge listen on New Year's Day
After a long night, and a long morning of cleaning up after your party, New Year's Day is your time to relax. You may want to binge on some of your favorite TV shows, now that you got a streaming media player for Christmas.
But how about binge listening? Spend the day getting caught up on the latest in technology with our free Komando On Demand podcast. It's entertaining and informative.