As you get ready to celebrate the New Year, chances are the last thing on your mind is how you’re going to feel when you wake up in 2011 — the morning after downing several alcoholic drinks the night before.

But doing a little advance planning might actually help you enjoy your New Year’s Eve parties without a killer hangover the next day.

“A hangover is brain damage,” says Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, an associate professor in the department of family medicine at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. He greatly advocates that people need to prepare before they attend parties. “Plan what you’re going to drink,” he advises. “Don’t just go with the flow.”

Did you know it takes an hour for a single beer, a four-ounce glass of wine or one ounce of 80 proof alcohol — think vodka, gin, rum, etc. — to leave your system? Different restaurants and bars tend to mix drinks differently. Some martinis may contain one ounce of alcohol at one venue, but another establishment may add three or four ounces. “People tend to drink a lot more than they think they’re drinking,” Michelfelder told AOL Health.

But forget the coffee to heal a hangover. According to Michelfelder, B vitamins and exercise may be the best way to get out from under the effects of too much drinking. “B6 and B12 are crucial in the healing process for brain cells,” says Michelfelder.

And don’t wait till the morning after. Michelfelder offers the following tips for before and during the party:

— Take a B vitamin supplement.

— Take an anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen or Aleve.

— Drink moderately. That means about five drinks for men and three for women during a three-hour period.

— Eat before you drink, as food slows the absorption of alcohol, and don’t drink too quickly.

— Match each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to avoid dehydration. Not feeling too hot the morning after the party?

Michelfelder says you can diminish the effects of a hangover by doing the following:

— Take another B vitamin.

— Drink a lot of water.

— Exercise. Believe it or not, vigorous exercise will get your blood pumping, and the quicker you can circulate blood through your kidneys and liver, the quicker your body will eliminate alcohol from its system.

“It’s gotta be cardio exercise,” adds Michelfelder. “You’ve got to get the heart rate going. Even walking will help.”

More on Hangovers

Scientists Claim Method to Making Hangover-Free BoozeHangover Pizza — Is This Our Long-Awaited Miracle Cure?Despite popular wisdom, Michelfelder says drinking coffee won’t cure a hangover.

“It may make you feel more awake, but it really doesn’t change the effects of a hangover,” he says.

And whatever you do, don’t attempt to cure a hangover by having another beer. That will only exacerbate the hangover.

Michelfelder’s final advice: Don’t drink and drive.

Also On K97.5: