December 31: the official ending to another year. Traditionally, this date marks an endorsed night of rampant celebration around the world. It’s an annual occasion to reflect on memories made and new beginnings yet to embark upon. In reality, you will purchase a dress never to be worn again, consume large amounts of champagne only to reap the consequences tomorrow, and pay a babysitter exorbitant wages because you waited until the last-minute to make that call.
Do moms really have an opportunity to celebrate this momentous occasion? After a long day with the kids, going “out on the town” after 9 pm is not something I look forward to. I’ve never been much for the party scene, and it’s a good thing, because my husband usually works late on New Year’s Eve. We’ll spend the holiday eating Chinese food on the couch and falling asleep before the ball even drops in New York (11:00 pm CST).
Maybe I would be more apt to venture out of the house if I had a live-in nanny or a guarantee of free babysitting the next day. Knowing my 8-month old will be waking up at 6 am is plenty of motivation to forgo the party invites and excessive imbibing.
So… what can you do on New Year’s Eve that is family friendly and will ensure a good night’s rest for another busy mommy day on January 1st? I’ve put together a small list of possible options for those of us who will be partying indoors with our little ones. A lot of these ideas are great for play dates as well! Invite a friend and enjoy some adult conversation and maybe even a leftover Christmas cookie or two.
- Make your own noise makers. There are plenty of ways to do this – get creative! You can use any container lying around your house and fashion many forms of “musical” instruments – drums (oatmeal containers), horns (used paper towel holders), shakers (empty water bottles). You can even use excess Christmas wrapping and ribbon to add some color and imagination to your handiwork. Or you can opt for the traditional pots and pans. Take your kids outside at any given hour during the New Year’s Eve day (midnight is definitely not a requirement for tired mamas!) and shout “Happy New Year!” while enthusiastically utilizing your newly fashioned inventions. I guarantee this will create memories to last forever!
- Create a party-hat. This idea is fairly self-explanatory. Have your older kids help the little ones. Martha Stewart has some great “Hat-How-Tos” on her website. She gives you step-by-step instructions on how to create a Joker hat, Avant-Garde hat, and a Crown.
- Bubble Jumping. Who doesn’t like bubble wrap?? I can still have fun with this stuff for hours! My kids enjoy it too! And of course, it’s a loud activity – the louder the better to bring in the New Year! To make it a bit more festive, color some of the flat-sided circles of the bubble wrap with different colored permanent markers. Put white paper underneath to display the polka-dotted designs. Tape the runner down securely to prevent slippage, and hop, hop, hop away!
- Time-Capsule. I remember opening a time-capsule my senior year of high school that we had created when I was a freshman. It was so exciting and hilarious to look back and see how everyone had changed. Do this with your family as well! Select any special container (cookie tin, shoebox, hope chest) and let your kids fill it with items that are special to them. Throw in a few photographs and pieces of artwork for some sweet personalization. Have you kids make a list of their “favorite things” and even write a letter to your future selves. Seal the box and place it in a memorable location. This location needs to be inaccessible to little ones, but in a place you will remember to look! Placing the box with your Christmas decorations will remind you of it each year (how quickly we forget!), and will be out of sight and out of mind the rest of the year to eliminate the temptation to peek! Label the box “Open in 2023” – ten years into the future. Or select a different date that works well for your family.
- New Year’s Eve Scavenger Hunt. Hide items around your house that have to do with the New Year’s Eve celebration, and enjoy the hunt with your kids. Noise makers, party hats, calendar, streamers, plastic champagne glasses, a clock (to count-down), balloons, silver bells to ring in the New Year, chocolates (just for fun!), and New Year’s greeting cards are all potential hidden items.
- I Want to Be Dreams… Take a photo of your child each New Year’s Eve holding a sign they have made (maybe with your help) that says what they want to be when they grow up. Eventually you can compile each of these reminiscences into a photo gift book to give to them when they graduate from high school or college. It never hurts to be reminded of our dreams!
- New Year’s Resolutions. I would be remiss if I neglected to mention this New Year’s classic tradition. Have each member of your family write down your resolution(s). Put them all in a basket, and have each person draw one. Spend some time guessing whose resolution it is. Or… make magnets with your kids that will remind them of their resolution all year-long. It’s a good substitute for nagging!
- Make a toast. Fill a champagne flute with grapes. When the clock begins to strike midnight (or whatever time you designate), have your child (four years and older) eat a grape for each hour the clock strikes. This is a Spanish custom that is said to bring good luck for the entire year.
- Get out of the house! Hit the after Christmas sales at the mall with a friend and bring the kids. Or enjoy some of the Quad Cities family friendly activities:
- Visit the Bettendorf Family Museum for a fun way to kick of the New Year with your kids: December 31, 2012 – 9:30am to 12:30pm – Noon Year’s Eve:Happy Noon Year! Kids don’t need to stay up until midnight, they can countdown to twelve o’clock NOON instead! Our festivities include art activities for the whole family, a countdown to 12:00 pm with noisemakers, hats…and lots of confetti! Free with membership or paid admission. And we aren’t kidding when we say there is a lot of confetti.
- Or visit the Putnam Museum for Mad Science Monday. Get the Lab coat and safety goggles, this will be a day of slime, goo, and wacky experiments. Join us as we explore chemistry in the exhibit halls, it is sure to be an explosive time!
Some other great ideas to bring in the New Year can be found here:
- New Year’s Crafts
- Start a new family tradition: The Blessing Jar
- Children’s New Year Fun Games and Activities (this is for all you teachers out there!)
What are some of your favorite New Year’s Eve traditions (family friendly, of course!)?