New Year’s resolutions? This year they should be all about pampering and coziness. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If this was a normal January, we’d all be making New Year’s resolutions that deal with losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more. Maybe even getting up earlier and getting more done at work.

But this isn’t a normal January. After 10 months of pandemic-driven sacrifices, the last thing most people need right now is to deprive themselves of the few pleasures they have. With COVID-19 cases spiking, we’re all going to have to continue to hunker down at home for the foreseeable future. So this is not the time to do things that are hard; it’s time to do things that are easy.

So why not resolve that this is the year you eat more of what you like, let yourself sleep late and binge-watch without guilt. Do whatever it takes, emotionally, to keep going and don’t feel bad about doing the few fun things you can safely enjoy. But don’t be selfish either; maybe make some of your resolutions about helping others. Those could include buying local to support struggling business or encouraging everyone to wear a mask. Those are also easy resolutions to keep.

Here are some suggestions for resolutions you can make this year, and maybe even help your fellow Mainers while you’re at it.

Suan la tang mian at Sichuan Kitchen in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


If you haven’t noticed, Maine is a pretty great place to eat, and during the pandemic, all kinds of high-end and international foods have become available for takeout and curbside pickup. So think of fun ways to explore all that the Maine restaurant scene has to offer. Even though we still can’t travel overseas, you can go on a culinary tour of the world without leaving Portland by trying a different cuisine every week. Take your taste buds on a trip to China by ordering from Sichuan Kitchen, to Colombia at Maiz, to Germany with Schulte & Herr, and to Africa at Burundi Star Coffee, which, in addition to cold brew and avocado toast, sells items from the owners’ native cuisine, including sambousas and savory banana soup. If you’re a less adventurous eater, you can become the local expert on your favorite food by sampling all the city has to offer. We all know there’s an Italian sandwich everywhere you turn, but now Portland also has array of roast beef sandwiches awaiting your rating. And if you have the extra cash to do so, you can really make your dining resolution easy on yourself, while supporting another local business, by ordering from delivery service 2DineIn, which offers contactless delivery from more than 100 local restaurants.

Sleep more. Get cozy with blankets from Maine Heritage Weavers. Photo courtesy of Maine Heritage Weavers.


Most of the time, we don’t prize sleep enough. We know we need sleep, but some people feel it gets in their way. It’s important to get enough sleep, it’s fun to sleep late, and hey, what else do you have to do these days? To really embrace sleep, maybe you should start by making your bed as cozy and inviting as possible. Try checking out some Maine makers and sellers of really comfy blankets and bedding, like Maine Heritage Weavers in Monmouth, makers of bedspreads and coverlets, as well as blankets and throws. Maine-based Cuddledown, with a store in Freeport, has all kinds of cozy sheets, bedding, blankets, comforters and pillows. Just browsing the websites of these two companies might make you sleepy.

Indulge yourself with a virtual wine dinner from Wine Wise, prepared by a chef from Portland’s Chaval restaurant. Photo by Myriam Babin Photography


A lot of people are struggling financially because of the pandemic, but others are saving money from not eating out or traveling. If you’re lucky enough in be among the latter, this might be the year to try something you’ve long considered too extravagant, like caviar. Portland happens to have a well-respected purveyor of the delicacy, Browne Trading Company, which supplies caviar and seafood to restaurants and homes around the country. You can try that beluga caviar you’ve heard so much about (or maybe not) for $230. That buys 30 grams. For most of us, that’s indulgent.

You could also indulge by upgrading your regular takeout pizza night to a virtual wine dinner for two, in your home. Wine Wise, a company run by sommelier Erica Archer, offers the dinners with food from area chefs. On Friday, the virtual wine dinner features food prepared by chef Damian Sansonetti of Chaval in Portland. The Italian American menu includes Zuppa Maritata, baked pasta and “Satriales Meats,” homemade pasta, roasted tomato sauce, meatballs, sausage, braciole and ricotta pie. Plus wines. The cost is $175, delivered, and the virtual part means you will be online with other diners, a sommelier and the chef. If it sells out, others are planned and are listed on the Wine Wise website.


With no where to go and plenty of time on your hands, there’s no reason to not watch TV for hours on end. It’s something you’ve dreamed about since you were a kid when your parents forced you to go outside and play all the time. Well, nobody’s forcing you outside now. But if you want to feel somewhat constructive about binging, you can support local arts organizations by choosing to tune into what they have to offer. You can rent directly from the Portland Museum of Art through its PMA Films, which has an expertly curated array of films you’re not likely to find elsewhere, and new titles are added weekly. Joining the fray on Friday is “The Reason,” which explores the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people all over the world. Other venues are producing their own content for your virtual viewing pleasure. If you’re not quite ready to let go of the holiday season, you still have a few days to catch an on-demand screening of Portland Stage’s one-man version of “A Christmas Carol.”

Sadie Dalzell sports a mask with the original Maine flag. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


With most people spending all their time at home in comfy clothes, there’s been little need to shop for new ones. However, there’s one accessory that everyone’s had to add to their wardrobe this year – a mask. Instead of worrying about whether you’re washing yours enough, go on a mask shopping spree. Even if you buy a different one for every day of the week, it will cost a lot less than a new dress, and the proceeds from many go to good causes, including providing income for people who have lost theirs. There are a couple dozen Maine makers of masks listed on the University of Maine website, with links to their sites. They range from plain colors to intricate designs to ones with local maps on them. Or you can go to online marketplace Etsy, and search “Maine masks.” You’ll find ones with moose, lobsters, Maine lighthouses, the 1901 state flag, the current state flag, old postcard images from Maine and other designs made by Mainers.


If you decided this was not the year to participate in Dry January and abstain from alcohol for a fresh start, you can still be more mindful about drinking and, rather than letting it become an unhealthy habit, look into sampling local spirits or make a special occasion of ordering to-go concoctions now offered by many local restaurants. Vena’s Fizz House decided to close its brick-and-mortar shop this month, but still has an online retail store with infusion kits, so you can spice up your spirits at home. Portland Hunt + Alpine Club offers many of its creative cocktails, like the tequila-based Clove Hitch, to go, as well as a party starter kit and an Old Fashioned sampler. Portland rum distillery Three of Strong Spirits has cocktails mixes and kits, as well as mulled cider and rum punch available for curbside pickup or delivery.

Features editor Leslie Bridgers contributed to this story.

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