I’ve always loved ringing in the new year low-key style in my jammies on the couch with my main man, Dick Clark. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally get down with the sparkly excitement of a New Year’s Eve party. But this old soul is more “old” than “soul” these days as the clock hits midnight.
If you’re like me, ditching the babysitter and staying cozy at home with the kids this New Year’s Eve, here are 22 low cost tips to keep the celebration alive and fun!
1. Decorate. Make it feel more like a party by hanging paper streamers and balloons. Head to your local party supply store and stock up on fun decorations for the big night, or make your own.
2. Create your own balloon drop. Tape a paper tablecloth loosely to the ceiling, and fill it with inflated balloons. At midnight, pull it down for an exciting celebration.
3. Make homemade “confetti poppers”. Have the kids create “confetti” with colored paper and a hole punch. Fill deflated balloons with the confetti using a funnel, inflate and tie closed. At midnight, pop the balloons!
4. Make party hats. Nothing screams “I’m celebrating New Year’s Eve!” like wearing a goofy party hat. Have the kids decorate their own with glitter, rhinestones and other fun embellishments.
5. Make “gingerbread” party hats! Use upside down ice cream cones as the base for this fun edible craft. Little kids can cover their own cones with frosting, and then decorate them with candy for a tasty version of the New Year’s Eve tradition.
6. Do New Year themed crafts. You can find tons of fun NYE crafts, educational activities and free printables at the following links: familyfun.go.com, enchantedlearning.com, apples4theteacher.com and activityvillage.co.uk.
7. Have a sleepover in the living room. Many kids want to stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop, but just in case they don’t make it you can set up sleeping bags or an inflatable mattress so they can cuddle up and sleep when the time comes. Just remember, if they’re ready for bed before 12, kiss them goodnight and remind them that when they wake up in the morning it will be the new year!
8. Have a family game night. Play board games, Charades, Pictionary, card games, or family friendly group-oriented video games such as the Wii.
9. Watch a movie. Go see a pre-party matinee or hold an all night movie marathon (don’t forget the popcorn) in your living room.
10. Read books. Head to your local library and check out titles like Happy New Year Everywhere by Arlene Erlbach, Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller, Cecil’s New Year’s Eve Tail by Marie Fritz Perry, or Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for great non-fiction readers also!
11. Cook a family meal together. Include each and every small pair of hands in the process, and then sit down together to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
12. Opt for apps. Making finger foods and appetizers instead of a main course meal keeps the “party” vibe going. Tiny portions for tiny people = instant hit.
13. Bake a cake/cupcakes. Celebrate the “birthday” of the new year with a yummy treat.
14. Cheers with “mocktails”. Give the little ones sparkling juice (such as apple, grape or lemonade), ginger ale or even an alcohol-free version of our favorite celebratory concoctions & include them in the midnight toast!
15. Make a list of family resolutions or a family bucket list for the upcoming year. Think of all the things you might want to do or accomplish as a family and record them all. Post your checklist in a place where everyone can see them for motivation!
16. Reflect on your favorite moments. Sit down as a family and share the most memorable events of the past year. You’ll be surprised at what little kids remember or what memories they may cherish the most.
17. Make a family time capsule. Take a shoebox or similar sized container and fill it with your favorite photos of the year, pictures drawn by the kids, and letters written by every family member. Next year, open the box and enjoy all of the cool treasures, and create a new time capsule to open next New Year’s Eve.
18. Celebrate your way around the world. People all over the world celebrate the new year in different ways. Sit down with your kids and learn about the unique New Year’s traditions from different countries. Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to incorporate a few of them into your own family holiday traditions!
19. Celebrate at noon. Instead of doing a midnight countdown, counting down the minutes to 12 pm is more conducive to the earlier bedtime demands of young children.
20. Watch the Times Square NYE celebration… early. If you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast, tune in to the Times Square celebration and have the kids in bed at a decent hour!
21. Watch the London NYE celebration… early. If you’re an East Coaster like us and can’t keep the kids up until good ole Dick Clark announces the new year, google “live London New Years Eve broadcast” and tune in to their version of New Year’s festivities 5 hours before ours start.
22. Reset the clocks. Part of the excitement of being little on New Year’s Eve is getting to stay up WAY past bedtime. If you’re not down with the subsequent grumpies that the following morning will bring, set the clocks ahead a few hours to celebrate early, and then get those sleepyheads in bed at a decent hour.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun and enjoy the night! I wish you a happy New Year and I’ll see you all in 2012!
I’m curious, will you be staying home or heading out to a party to celebrate the new year? Let us know in the comments section below!