Do you remember the days before kids, when you just picked a party to attend on New Year’s Eve or held your own?
Of course, you would always have to buy a new dress for the occasion … but now that kids are around, it’s more complicated.
You could arrange a sitter, but that can be a pain.
You need to arrange a sitter, dinner for the kids to plan on top of all of your other plans, and then being 'on call' if the sitter needs you while you are ringing in the New Year.
This is almost more trouble than it’s worth. Keeping the kids involved in New Year’s is better.
As my family has grown, I've had to come up with more ideas to turn a traditional couples holiday into a festive family affair.
A Cinematic Celebration
To pass the time between normal bedtime and midnight, consider spending the evening watching a movie or two with the kids.
One of my most vivid New Year’s memories was for the year 2001. My dad was out of town on business and my siblings were at friend's houses. I stayed in with my mother and we watched "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon."
Of course, you’ll have to gauge the movie to the age of your child, but you get the idea.
Be sure to indulge in something rare at your house – for us, we go for the most buttery brand we can find!
Are You Game?
Watching movies, however, wasn’t the normal activity for us. When I was a kid, we usually played board games to pass the time until midnight.
Our board game of choice was always Trivial Pursuit but really, any board game will do.
Nowadays, many families are into video gaming systems. Perhaps a dance-off or karaoke competition is more to your liking.
My friend Paula has a son and a daughter and she gave me two terrific ideas on different ways to spend New Year’s Eve.
"Two years ago, Jason and I rented a room at a hotel with an indoor pool," she said. "We had dinner in the restaurant and then went swimming with the kids after. They loved it."
Her other idea also involved getting the kids out of the house for the evening.
"Last year, a bunch of my cousins and I got together and took the kids bowling," she said. "They had such a blast because we had the whole place to ourselves, and the kids had their lanes and the adults had theirs too. The manager was nice enough to put on dance music too."
Finding a nice family activity away from the home is an interesting idea.
Out With the Old, In With the New (Year)
Consider starting new traditions.
This is a time when you can give your kids a new calendar for the New Year. You could wear themed clothing.
People tend to wear red and green on Christmas, red on Valentine's Day, green on Saint Patrick’s Day … so why can’t New Year’s have its own color scheme?
Have the whole family wear white, symbolizing the clean slate of the coming year.
A Gastronomical Feast
Don’t forget about New Year’s Eve food. There is some discussion about foods that are said to bring good luck.
In the southern United States, Hoppin’ John, a mix of black-eyed peas and rice, with onions and ham or bacon, is a food that is said to bring prosperity in the new year, if eaten on New Year’s Eve.
It is said that each pea eaten represents a dollar to be gained in the coming year.
My family always ate pork roast or ham on New Year’s Day.
"The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress,"according to the lucky foods for the new year section on the Epicurious website. "The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving."
Epicurious also notes foods that we should avoid. Lobster is apparently one such food, since they move backwards and may lead to setbacks.
Much the same is thought of chickens and winged creatures in general are discouraged because you don't want your good luck to fly south for the winter like the ducks.
A New Kind of New Year's Eve
While your New Year’s Eve with kids is certainly much different than it was before the kids were around, it doesn’t have to be any less fun. It just means that you have to think in terms of new activities and form new traditions for the new year celebrations.