For the last several years my husband and I have celebrated New Year's Eve at home with the kids. Sure, we'd love to go out on the town and spend New Year's Eve partying with friends. But with four kids, one of which has special needs, spending a night out just isn't possible. The first couple times we had to forgo the traditional New Year's Eve parties we were disappointed, but over the years as our children have gotten older, we've discovered that spending the evening home with the kids doesn't have to be boring, it can actually be a lot of fun!
As mom and chief event planner I've found that the key to turning a night at home with the kids into an awesome celebration that everyone enjoys is planning, preparation and creating traditions that the whole family can look forward to every year. Here's how you too can turn your New Year's Eve at home with the kids from ho hum to awesome.How to spend New Year's Eve with the kids and have fun doing it
Set the mood
To make New Year's Eve at home special the first thing I do is to give the room we'll be spending most of the evening in a party atmosphere. Helium filled balloons, table cloths covered in confetti and colorful streamers all help give our family room a festive New Years Eve vibe. Plenty of silly New Year's hats, noisemakers, party poppers and silly string can also aid in getting everyone in a party mood.
Make dinner special
Over the years I've done candle lit dinners with linen table cloths and my best china, pizza and wings while watching a movie, or three foot subs and picnic foods on a blanket on the floor of our living room. This year the kids are really into Chinese food and sushi so we will be getting take out from our favorite restaurant and attempting to eat it with chopsticks. It doesn't matter what you serve as long as its something that everyone enjoys and you find a way to make it special.
It can be tough for young kids to stay up until midnight, well let's be totally honest, sometimes its hard for me to stay awake that long. Movies usually put the kids and me to sleep long before the ball drops in Times Square. One of the best ways I've found to keep everyone awake is to stay active by playing games together. Gathering the family together to play on the Wii or Xbox is a lot of fun for everyone. Don't have a game console? Classic games like Charades, Guesstures and Twister will keep your body moving and your brain alert. If your kids are teen, a lively game of Poker or beer pong minus the beer of course, is a great way to stay awake and engage in some friendly family competition.
Snacks and drinks
When you're at a party you have to have plenty of snacks and drinks. Over the course of the evening I put out trays of traditional party snacks such as chips and dip, cut veggies and cocktail wienies. For the kids drinks I let them make "cocktails" out of grenadine, maraschino cherries and 7 Up in plastic champagne flutes. It makes them feel so grown up. If you have older kids who might balk at having a "kiddie" drink you can let them make their own "virgin" versions of daiquiris and margaritas.
Naps are OK
When my children were younger it was impossible to keep them up until midnight so we let them nap on the couch. If your little ones conk out before midnight let them nap until about 11:30 p.m., then wake them up so they can participate in ringing in the New Year. If nothing you do can get them to wake up, just make sure and let them toot their horns and pop their poppers first thing in the morning to greet the first morning of the New Year.
Reflect on the past year
Toward the end of the evening one of the things that my family does is to reflect on the past year and make plans for the New Year. Each person shares what some of their favorite things about the past year were and what some of their least favorite were. Then each family member writes down one thing they hope will happen in the next year on a slip of paper that's put it in a jar and buried in the backyard to be dug up and read on the next New Year's Eve.
Ring in the New Year
Even though we're on the West Coast we always tune in to see the ball drop in New York beginning at 11:45 pm in our time zone. Once the clock hits midnight, we head outside with our pot, pans, noisemakers and party poppers to let the neighbors know that the New Year has arrived. We finish by singing Auld Lang Syne and toasting with sparkling apple cider. Some of our neighbors inevitably let off illegal fireworks so we stay outside a bit to watch the show.
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