5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Happy Family-Friendly New Year!
As the parent of one or more young children, you may be anticipating a New Year’s Eve that is less sequins and champagne and more mini hot dogs and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Fortunately, celebrating this traditionally decadent night in a family friendly way can be just as much fun for grown-ups as for kids.
If you’re willing to push back bedtime at least a little bit, those extra hours can provide a great opportunity to enjoy a creative family activity while making memories that will last for years to come. Consider using one of the six ideas below to help your family ring in 2016 in style.
1. Create something together. Take a break from your usual movie night and tackle a more adventurous project as a family. If your children are young, collaborate on a giant butcher paper mural or use wooden blocks to recreate your home and street. Older kids may be ready to take on a 500-piece puzzle or an elaborate LEGO construction project. Your family will end the night with a sense of accomplishment plus some great photos of your creation.
2. Reminisce about the old year. Given the current popularity of digital cameras, camera phones and online photo sharing, many parents have gotten out of the habit of regularly printing photos, let alone displaying them in neatly labeled albums. New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to cycle through the digital photos you’ve stored on your laptop over the past year. Talk about the memories associated with your pictures, then ask each family member to select their five or ten favorites. You can spend New Year’s Day arranging the chosen pictures in a customized photo book to print and enjoy.
3. Create a family “bucket list” for the coming year. How can your family make 2016 your best year yet? Maybe you really want to take the kids ice-skating for the first time this January. Or, perhaps your daughter’s life won’t be complete unless your family attends the town’s annual Easter egg hunt in March. Decide as a family which events and activities are most important for the months ahead and commit to them in writing. Then, immediately schedule upcoming activities on the family calendar to make sure they don’t get lost in the shuffle of daily life.
4. Dress for Dinner. Regardless of whether you’ll be leaving the house, encourage family members to don their snazziest attire to say goodbye to 2015. Even take-out pizza eaten off of paper plates feels special when you’re dressed to the nines! Pick up some New Year’s Eve party hats, leis and other accessories at www.orientaltrading.com to complete the look.
5. Stretch your celebration. It’s midnight somewhere! Check out www.timeanddate.com to see where. Per the site’s handy New Year Countdown, Melbourne will celebrate the arrival of 2016 at 8:00 a.m., Tokyo at 10:00 a.m., and London at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. If one round of “Happy New Year!” isn’t enough for your family, enjoy a quick celebration every hour on the hour! Or, focus on celebrating with the countries you feel personally connected to due to your family history or past travel adventures.
6. Enjoy your own private “ball drop.” Whether or not you plan to stay up to watch the big Times Square Ball Drop, kids will have a blast recreating this tradition in your home. A racquetball or tennis ball can be manually “dropped” down a length of string while family members count down from 60. As an added bonus, decorating the chosen ball with sequins, glitter, feathers, or paint will make a great art project for your kids during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve!
Choose one of these activities, add some tasty snacks and festive music, and enjoy a fun and memorable night with your family. Happy New Year to you and yours!
Michelle Shirk is an Indiana-based attorney and freelance writer. She writes about family, travel and seasonal events for parenting publications across the United States.