When you think of New Year’s Eve, do you think of dancing until dawn and romantic meals? Well, yes, that’s what a lot of people did while they were dating, but chances are, if you have kids, you’ll spend a New Year’s Eve (or two or 18) home with the family.
Thankfully, staying in with the kids is a ton of fun. Stock the house for merrymaking and take advantage of a few of these family-friendly activities:
New Year’s meals
Did you know some people eat certain foods every New Year’s? There are a variety of traditions, all thought to bring luck in the upcoming year. Pick one to incorporate into your family party.
Enjoy bagels and ring-shaped cakes, symbolizing the year coming full circle, or get the kids to eat their leafy greens and black-eyed peas, as these are thought to bring wealth (the greens representing paper money, the beans symbolizing coins).
For fruit, consider pomegranates. Full of seeds, the fruit stands for bringing in a year of prosperity. There is even a tradition of smashing a pomegranate on your door at the stroke of midnight. (Take note: Pomegranate juice stains.)
Each family has its own culinary lineage. Maybe you’ll want to cook up a recipe passed down from grandma, or keep it simple and make mini pizzas, allowing everyone to top their own.
Put on a show
Instead of heading out to the theater, have the performance at home. Kids get a kick out of performing plays for their parents and siblings. Adults can produce a puppet show from behind the sofa. Puppets can be cutout pieces of cardboard, decorated for each character. Simply adhere to a dowel rod or straw, and a stick puppet is born.
Pick up a book of magic tricks or a jokes from the library or bookstore to keep everyone in a good mood.
Dance, dance, dance!
Maybe you don’t have a thespian in the house, but you do have a budding ballerina or hip hop star. Sounds like a great reason to get gussied up and throw a dance party in the living room!
Create a playlist of kid-friendly songs and don your fanciest threads. For the young ones this might mean sparkly princess dresses and superhero outfits. Older kids might want to wear sequined headbands and workout shoes. If you have preteens, consider setting up a karaoke machine or use an app on your tablet or phone. Move furniture against the walls, roll up the rug, set up some lights, and show off your dance moves. Your kids might be surprised at how many steps they can learn from their parents.
Make party hats and more
Although crafts are often equated with toddlers, they can be fun for every age. Set up a table and get ready to see some New Year’s Eve creations that trump any loopy hat worn at the annual Times Square party in New York City.
Kids can make hats from pieces of felt or twist pipe cleaners into ornate tiaras. Create wishing wands, a craft where twigs are topped with a paper star. Everyone gets their own wand to decorate and write their wishes for the upcoming year on their wand’s star.
Also, family members can fabricate noisemakers with a few pantry staples—a handful of beans can be stapled between two paper plates or lentils can fill small containers with snap on lids or water bottles with screw tops. Everyone in the house can decorate their own noisemakers with stickers or markers.
For some families, it is important to get the kids to bed early, and staying up until midnight is not an option. If your children need an early bedtime, you can ring in the New Year with any time zone you would like. Midnight in Brazil, England, or any other country still counts. So find another time zone’s revelry online or on the television and do your countdown early.
Whatever time you celebrate, don’t forget the champagne toast. Serve sparkling cider, ginger ale or cooled-down hot cocoa. Feeling fancy? Consult a nonalcoholic beverage cookbook, such as “Kiddie Cocktails.” Designed in a retro-style by Eau Claire designer Stuart Sandler, there are kid-friendly drinks recipes including Shirley Temples, The Green Alien (white soda, lemonade, and lime juice), and The Fizz (cranberry juice, orange juice, and soda water).
So pop some balloons! Bang your pots and pans! Ring in 2017 at the best place in town, where all your VIPs reside … at home. Happy New Year!
Mali Anderson still has a pomegranate stain on her back stoop from last New Year’s Eve. She’ll be ringing in the New Year at home again this year, but may forgo the tradition of throwing a pomegranate at the door.