Whether you're planning to primly sip on a single glass of champagne or embark on an epic, booze-fueled bender that would give Ernest Hemingway the heebie-jeebies, December 31 is the time to take a tipple or two. Of course, excess revelry has a way of casting a bit of a shadow on the New Year. If you overindulge on the last day of 2012, here are a few suggestions to help you start 2013 with a little less pain.
An Ounce of Prevention...Will Give You a Better New Year
As any dedicated drinker will tell you, the best way to avoid a hangover is to plan ahead. Line your stomach with some carb-heavy, booze-soaking food. Drink lots of water. Take a dose of your painkiller of choice (personally, I prefer Advil) before going to bed. And, if at all possible, let a little time pass between drinking your last drink and hitting the hay. While planning ahead won't completely obliterate your hangover, it can make it a lot easier to take.
Sleep It Off
If you can possibly sleep, do so. While you're unconscious, your body will busily try to undo the damage that you inflicted the previous evening. The longer you can let it do its work without getting in the way, the better for all concerned.
Get Your Water...And Vitamins
When you finally wake up to face your splitting headache, chances are that your first instinct will be to reach for the aspirin. Think again. A large part of your pain probably comes from dehydration and a lack of electrolytes. At the very least, try to drink a few glasses of water, but if you have the wherewithal to get hold of a vitamin-rich beverage, give it a shot. Gatorade is good, but you'll find that a lot of the classic cures -- Bloody Mary mix, pickle juice, or orange juice -- are classic for a reason.
Most painkillers have nasty side effects when you're dehydrated. Give your body some time to recover before you reach for the ibuprofen, aspirin or Tylenol.
Sweat It Out
If your New Year's resolution involved going to a gym, January 1 might be a great place to start. Load up on water, then hop on a treadmill or -- better yet -- head to the sauna. Sweating out all the toxins (read: alcohol) will help you recover a lot faster.
Take a Shower
It probably won't do a heck of a lot for your head, but showering will make you feel a bit better. Apart from drawing some blood to the surface of your skin, it will help you rinse off the sad evidence of that face-plant you took into a bowl full of potato chips.
Get a Hangover Breakfast
When she was in college, my sister Susan swore by cheeseburgers as her hangover food of choice. Years later, I realized that there was solid science to back her up: the combination of a pile of carbohydrates to power the body, fat to fill the stomach and protein to rebuild damage is a good recipe for the morning after. Since then, I've seen a few similar suggestions, including egg-and-bacon breakfasts or General Tso chicken -- both of which nicely fill the bill.
Happy New Year!
Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.