Happy New Year!

First Day hike set at Dolliver

OTHO — A First Day hike will be held on the Copperas Beds Trail at Dolliver Memorial State Park on Tuesday.

Hikers should meet at 9 a.m. at the Copperas Beds Trail Head by South Lodge, 2757 Dolliver Park Ave., Otho.

The hike will be 1 to 1.5 miles and is moderate to difficult, depending on hikers’ abilities. There are steep stairs on the path.

First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views unimpeded by foliage. Wildlife and animal tracks might be spied during the hike.

Hike may involve some hills.

Dress appropriately for weather and possibly slick terrain.

In case of bad weather, to check on cancellation, visit www.iowadnr.gov/parks and click on “closure information” or call 515-359-2539.

Safety first when serving alcohol

Hosting a party at home can be a great way to get friends and family together. Whether hosting guests for the big game, a holiday dinner or just a weekend gathering for friends, hosts who plan to serve alcohol must realize the responsibility that comes with that decision.

Guests’ safety should be a top priority for party hosts. But hosts also must take steps to protect themselves when serving alcohol. Host laws can leave hosts who overserve guests vulnerable to criminal prosecution or civil liability, so it’s important that hosts take steps to ensure guests who consume alcohol do not drink to excess and make it home safely.

• Encourage guests to take cabs or ridesharing services to and from the party. Hosts who plan to serve alcohol can encourage guests to use local taxi companies or ridesharing services such as Lyft or Uber to get them to and from the party. Include contact information for local taxi companies on the party invitations, and ask guests to include their transportation plans with their RSVP. Doing so will get guests thinking about transportation well in advance of the festivities, and that may reduce the likelihood that they will drive themselves.

• Enlist designated drivers. Some guests may plan to abstain from alcohol, and hosts can ask such guests to serve as designated drivers. In addition, hosts should abstain from alcohol so they can drive guests home if any guests have had too much to drink.

• Plan activities that do not involve drinking. Hosts can plan games or activities that do not involve alcohol so guests do not feel pressured to drink too much. Such games can make parties more fun and memorable and give guests something to do besides mingle and drink alcohol. In addition, games and activities that do not revolve around alcohol can keep sober guests engaged in the festivities.

• Get creative with nonalcoholic beverages. Hosts should make sure they have ample amounts of water and soft drinks on hand for underage guests and guests who will not be drinking. But hosts can also have some fun by serving some “mocktails,” which mimic alcoholic beverages without the alcohol. Kids might like a “Shirley Temple” instead of another glass of water, and adult guests might feel a virgin martini helps them fit in more.

• Serve ample amounts of food. Even guests who do not plan to drink much can become inebriated if they’re drinking on empty stomachs. Make plenty of food available to your guests, but try to avoid serving salty foods like pretzels and potato chips. Salt makes people thirsty, and that might compel some guests to drink more alcohol than they intended.

• Have some guest rooms ready. Guests coming from far away who drove themselves may not want to pay for cabs or ridesharing services home, so make sure you have guest rooms ready for anyone who overdoes it with alcohol. Stock up on toothbrushes, bed linens and contact solution and cases so guests who wear contact lenses can remove them before going to bed.

Hosting can be fun, but hosts must prioritize the safety of their guests when serving alcohol.

Here are some creative ways to ring in the New Year

Counting down the hours until the new year can be exciting, as the world anxiously anticipates the adventures in store for the months ahead.

Celebrating the new year dates back thousands of years to the ancient Babylonians, who celebrated a new year come the first full moon after the spring equinox. The new year is now commemorated in various ways across the globe. According to History.com, one million people gather in New York City’s Time Square to watch the famed crystal ball drop each year. Across the pond in London, celebrants watch thousands of individual fireworks launch over the Thames River. In Sydney, Australia, roughly one million people line the shoreline each year to watch a fireworks show over the famed harbor.

To match the excitement of New Year’s festivities, each year party hosts and hostesses are on the lookout for innovative ways to entertain and ensure everyone has a blast. The following are a few ways to do just that as you and your guests prepare to close the book on 2018 and usher in 2019.

• Go bowling. New Year’s Eve probably isn’t a big league night, so it’s likely you can reserve a number of lanes. Book in advance to take advantage of affordable food and drink packages. Some alleys now offer more than just bowling, with live music or deejay entertainment as well. You do not have to be a professional bowler, either, as the goal of bowling with friends is to simply have some fun and make some lasting memories.

• Try a “first”. There is a first time for everything, and why not try something you have been thinking about doing for some time on the first day of the new year? Maybe you’re ready to tap into your adventurous side and try skydiving. Or, you may be looking to travel abroad to experience something you have longed to see, such as the Egyptian pyramids or the city lights in the romantic city of Paris.

• Cheer for every time zone. Thanks to the various time zones across the globe, “Happy New Year” is shouted multiple times throughout the night on New Year’s Eve. TimeandDate.com notes that, depending on how you define the time zone and if you include the International Date Line, there are 24 or 25 standard time zones. That gives revelers 25 opportunities to usher in the new year. Choose a country in each time zone, and then employ that country’s cultural traditions to celebrate the new year.

• Design a scavenger hunt. A fun activity for both adults and children, scavenger hunts can send guests in search of clues and answers based on things that happened over the previous 12 months. Include photos and other mementos when preparing clues.