Ringing in the New Year with Kids
In the world of diapers, carpools and missing school papers, New Year’s celebrations can amount to watching the ball drop on the television and hoping that the neighbors’ fireworks don’t wake the baby. Even if you have fancy formal wear that fits and are willing to squeeze into uncomfortable shoes, chances are you might not know anyone willing or able to host a fancy shindig. Plus, finding a babysitter on the last night of the year can be tough.
But don’t think ringing in the coming year at home with the kids needs to be humdrum. New Year’s Eve can be fun for the whole family. Help your kids celebrate and look at the passing of time with excitement and anticipation. Here are some suggestions for spending the last and first days of the year with your family members, big and little.
As a family, create scrapbook pages of the past year’s events. Reflect on how your family’s life is richer than it was 12 months ago. You don’t have to have pictures of each event. But list them and explain the lows and highs so that you’ll have a record for the future. Consult your calendar if you can’t think of what you did. You’ll be surprised at how much your family has accomplished during the last year.
Invite some friends and their kids over for a game night. Set up multiple tables and chairs so different games can be going on simultaneously. Consider classics such as Monopoly, Yahtzee, Candy Land and Battleship, as well as some newer games, such as Blockus, Rush Hour or Apples to Apples. Choose games for a wide range of ages and be prepared to take a few strolls through the Gumdrop Mountains if there aren’t enough takers to play with the little ones. Be sure to provide plenty of munchies and drinks.
Thank yous for the year
Gather your family around the table with blank note cards, envelopes, stamps, markers and stickers. Brainstorm a list of people to thank for services and care provided during the past year. These might include grandparents, teachers, coaches, neighbors and friends. Don’t forget those who’ve given Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. Enjoy an evening crafting creative cards and heartfelt sentiments. Have everyone sign each card then address and stamp the envelopes so all are ready to go in the mail Jan. 2.
A few favorite things
Host a dinner party for young and old, asking friends to bring their favorite food as well as their favorite movie. Never mind if you have 20 desserts. You’ll only do it once a year – maybe. Scan the movies for what would be appropriate for all ages and have everyone vote. Pop some corn and pass the night watching fun flicks and laughing together.
Extreme closet makeover
Chances are that stuff is bursting out of dressers and closets thanks to the recent holiday gift-giving. Turn on some tunes and whistle while you work with each child, sorting unwanted or unused clothing to donate. The kids may balk, but you’ll all feel good knowing that someone less fortunate will benefit. Afterward, take advantage of New Year’s sales and leftover gift cards to add one new item to the kids’ recently cleaned closets.
Happy New Year cake
Each year is the birth of a fresh start. Celebrate with a special “birthday” cake. Bake a boxed mix and let the kids help with the frosting and sprinkles. Top it off with number candles or writing for the coming year's date. Make sure you take a picture of the family blowing out the candles together.
Goals and dreams
Think and dream of all the things you would like to do, individually and as a family, in the new year. What trips would you like to take? What skill would you like to learn? Perhaps there’s a new sport or adventure activity that you can try together. Are there books you’d like to read? What character traits would you like to grow in? Make a list of goals and dreams for the next year and place it where all can see.
Be deliberate in planning ways to meet these goals. If your son dreams of sword fighting, research local fencing clubs to find out about available lessons. Help your kids see their goals through to completion. Check them off as they go. Learning to set goals and accomplish them is a valuable skill for all ages.
Plan to serve
Choose one way for your family to serve others in the coming year. Whether it is delivering meals on wheels or visiting folks in the local rest home, there is bound to be something that will fit your family’s interests and season of life. What better way to enter the new year than to plan to make life a little easier for others?
Times flies. So have some fun as a family. There’ll be plenty of time for fancy dresses and tuxedos later.
Jessica Fisher is a wife, mother of six and freelance writer with a blog at www.lifeasmom.com.