Becoming a parent changes… a lot of things. You sleep less, stress more, and more importantly, have more people to love. On a more disappointing note, having kids typically means that your hard-partying days are over.
You might not be ringing in the New Year at a crazy party, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun. In fact, you might even find that spending a quiet(er) New Year’s Eve with the kids is a lot more enjoyable and much less exhausting. So if you’ll be spending this holiday with the kiddos, grab your mom (or dad) jeans and let’s plan a night to remember!
Plan a restful night in
For years, my family celebrated with a night at home. We’d set out a feast of junk food, play board games and watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve until midnight. We’d have cheese fondue, M&Ms, chips and dip, and millionaire’s cake – an amazing layered dessert made with chocolate pudding, cool whip, cream cheese, and nuts. The night wasn’t complete until we had a sparkling grape juice toast at midnight. And if the notion of relaxing in front of the TV and eating isn’t enticing enough, just remember that you’ll even be able to go to bed early if the mood strikes.
Go out to eat
Spoil your family. Get dressed up and go out to dinner. Some kid-focused restaurants throw parties to celebrate the night. For example, the Rainforest Café near my house is offering a New Year’s Eve buffet with food and activities for the whole family. Make reservations for one of these kid-friendly celebrations or ask the kids where they’d like to go.
Spend some time out of town
Plan a one- or two-night getaway for the family. Even if you’re only going an hour away, this change of pace will force you to leave work and chores at home and focus on your family. Here are some short vacation ideas that could make for a fun New Year’s Eve.
- Stay at a waterpark hotel. Unless you live somewhere warm, the kids haven’t seen a swimming pool since Labor Day. Splash away 2012 with a visit to an indoor waterpark.
- Go skiing. Book a short stay at a ski resort and get the kids some lessons. And as a bonus, you’ll be working off those holiday calories instead of consuming more.
- Go to the beach. If you’re somewhere warm, take the kids for a beach getaway. Spend the first few minutes of the New Year taking a moonlit walk along the shore.
- Go to Disney World. If your NYE budget is accommodating, take the family to Orlando’s Disney World for a memorable evening. With extended park hours, a magical parade and an amazing fireworks display, Disney World is the ideal place to spend the evening with kids.
Look for community events
My town, like many others, hosts a “first night” party. It’s from 4:00–7:00 pm so that the kids will be awake, and it includes food, games, live music and tons of other family fun. If you’re looking to get “out and about” for the evening, gather some neighbors and head out for a local celebration.
Throw a family-friendly bash
You know those friends you partied with when you were childless and carefree? They’re probably in the same boat. Invite them and their children over for one big New Year’s Eve bash. Here are some ideas for making your party a success.
- Tell everyone to bring pajamas. Young kids won’t be able to stay awake until midnight. Invite them to bring pajamas and sleeping bags so that they can have a slumber party on the living room floor.
- Serve plenty of “mocktails.” The kids need something non-alcoholic to toast with at midnight. Serve beverages like sparkling juice, Shirley Temples, or this tasty Floating Island Punch, made with orange sherbet, ginger ale, and concentrate.
- Set out plenty of games for the kids. “Adult time” is possible if the kids are entertained enough. If you provide several board games and crafts, you might be able to sneak in a few moments of adult conversation, disruption-free.
- Consider hiring a babysitter. Ask a teenager to oversee the kids during your party. That way, the adults won’t have to worry about the kids being unsupervised while you’re having fun.
Organize last year’s memories
Unless you’re a supermom, you probably have quite a few digital photos that haven’t even been printed. Before the big night, print off all of your photos from your digital camera and phone. Spend the evening scrapbooking, putting photos in albums and laughing over memories from this past year.
With a little bit of advance planning, New Year’s Eve with the little ones can be tons of fun. How does your family celebrate New Year’s Eve? I’d love to hear your ideas! Send me an email or let me know in the comments.