Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but New Year’s celebrations can be so delightful! And since you’ve got a place to go—Times Square—let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! Okay now ignore that attempt at rewriting the song “Let It Snow” and pay attention, because we’re about to give you the lowdown on crossing New Year’s in Times Square off your bucket list.

Many people, as we’ve come to discover, just flock to Times Square all willy-nilly for the ball drop, mistakenly thinking they’ll have things like tons of port-a-potties or food vendors. Not true. It’s a rugged experience, and you’ve got to prepare for it and know the rules. Aside from no alcohol allowed, there are five major guidelines to having a great time at the ball drop and still getting a view of the action

The Five Rules for Going to The New Year’s Ball Drop in Times Square

5. Arrive early
There is no limit on how early you can arrive and hang out in Times Square for a good spot, but we will clue you in that 5:30pm is when the best sections begin to fill up. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to use the restroom for another six hours if you’re set on staying put. If you actually want to see Times Square and maybe even the ball, do not arrive later than 7pm. It’s after 8 that the viewing areas outside of Times Square proper begin to fill up, so we guess you’ll just have to get a catheter.

4. Bring provisions
Although no large bags or backpacks are allowed, we recommend stuffing some bags of Chex Mix and maybe a bottle of water or two into your coat, or—horror of horrors—using a fanny pack or sling bag. Energy or nutrition bars would be the best bet, since even standing outside in the cold temperatures and mentally freaking out about your view (or lack of) is burning enough energy already.

3. Eat dinner and use the restroom before heading into Times Square

There are no public restrooms in Times Square, and you can bet that even if the restaurants in the area let you in, you’d be waiting in a line so long that it’d have you missing the ball drop. We say have a light (but warming, like soup and hot chocolate) meal in the vicinity and take advantage of that restaurant’s restrooms. Then head straight from dinner into Times Square. You can see a list of all the access points to Times Square here.

2. Save energy for the trip home
Unless you’re paying through the nose to stay in a hotel nearby Times Square, you’ll have a tiring journey back to bed. When the Times Square festivities are over, the subways get crowded with tourists and those from other parties all drunk and ready to hit the sack. If you’ve spent the entire evening jumping up and down and screaming “2011 woo!,” the ride on the clogged subway or in a taxi on equally clogged streets might be hell. Don’t overdo it in the Square; half the battle is getting home.

1. Dress warmly
This is New York City in early January. There’s a reason this is our #1 rule for enjoying the Times Square ball drop; and you’ll understand when you arrive and realize hey—despite being surround by a million or so others, it’s freaking freezing outside. And even if you work up some nice heat by do-si-doing with the people around you, there is a dangerous thing called cold sweat. It causes hypothermia, and that is not the way to ring in the New Year, so leave your spandex Batman outfit at home. The forecast right now is showing 37-33 degrees, but at least it’s projected to be clear.