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I’ve heard about many different families traditions on ringing in the New Year and I want to move that discussion over here so I can revisit it as my children grow older. As a little kid, I remember listening to the annual countdown of the top music of the year and watching Dick Clark drop the ball (Was Barry Manilow always performing or do I have one particular memory stuck on replay?). As a twenty-something, it was all about the champagne toast and kissing someone — anyone! — at the strike of midnight.
Since having babies, Whitney and I have developed an unintended tradition for New Year’s Eves involving putting the children to bed early and playing Rock Band video games until the clock strikes 12:00. As they get older, we can’t wait to incorporate more of these terrific ideas for rockin’ New Year’s Eve with kids.
Ideas for baby mamas
You still got it! But the guest list is probably limited to other folks in your boat. Set up a portable crib so your other friends with babies can bring them over. Put the little ones to bed and stay up as late as you can while eating chocolate fondue and playing games. Champagne optional, you’re parents now. Yawn.
Party hat makes the photo
As with the seasonal pumpkin photo, sometimes I care more about getting the right picture than actually having fun. Surround your bundle of joy with props from your own celebration: a champagne flute, streamers, or party masks. Commemorate just how little this person is and imagine all the wonderful new years ahead.
Toddlers and preschoolers
Why not ring in the New Year at noon rather than midnight? Enjoy the celebrations and fireworks in other parts of the world on TV and call it a day. One of our local children’s museums has a Noon Year’s Eve celebration. Awesome. Because pushing the bedtime at this age seems like BS to me.
Banging pots and pans
What’s free and makes a ton of noise? That’s right, the party in your own kitchen. Some families even bring the cacophony to the front yard to wish their neighbors well. Something tells me I would like this party more outside. Then again, we live on a busy street and my toddler is a bit of a bolter.
Black-eyed peas for luck
This traditional dish promises to bring you good luck for the coming year. If you can’t stomach these healthy legumes, other lucky foods include toddler-friendly lentils and noodles.
Family movie night
Get in jammies early as a family for a kid-friendly movie, make-your-own pizza, and sparkling cider. Pass out the holiday crackers whenever you decide it’s “midnight”.
Big kids and beyond
Sing a song
Our friend Christie telephones friends around the country and sings Auld Lang Syne accompanied by her children on the ukulele, cello, and guitar. They start around 9pm (for East Coast friends) and finish at around 1 am in the West.
Play Crystal Ball
As a teen, my siblings and I gathered around the predictions notebook exchanging ideas about where we’d be in one, five, and ten years. This was my idea. #nerd.
Bedtime, what bedtime?
Set aside the rules and let kids stay up all night. What’s the worst thing that could happen? At least they don’t have school the next day. I guess they could play Rock Band with me as long as I still get to sing.
Make a time capsule
Brainstorm with your family and create a current events box with devices, news, and music from the year that is ending. Put What Does the Fox Say? on an obsolescent flash drive. Bury it or pack it away for future amusement. Explore previous years’ contributions because, of course, this is a long-running tradition by now.
Play the Naughty Game
In our friend Danica’s house, kids and parents share the naughtiest thing they did all year and receive full amnesty. The kids surprise the adults and vice versa. I love and fear this tradition.
So, what are your favorite New Year’s Eve activities with kids of any age?
Keyword: Share your (realistic) New Years Eve ideas for parents