Celebrating New Year’s looks different for most people depending on their life stage. Young adults from college age to their late twenties often spend time hanging out at the club. Adults who have recently married or begun a professional life often still spend time with friends or family members at a party or community gathering, and older adults often find a time when they just sleep through the changing of the year. However, parents with children younger than their teens often do not know what to do for the ringing in of the new year. There are some spectacular ways to ring in the new year, even with a small child in tow.
Ring in the New Year at Noon
Small children rarely make it until the end of the night. However, you can still celebrate the new year with a countdown. Countdown to noon or even bedtime with some festive activities. You can do all of the things that adults do at night, but you can send the kids to bed at a decent hour. Let the children watch some of their favorite songs on video. Tap into YouTube for videos or a music app such as Apple Music or Spotify for some great songs for dancing and singing. Pop popcorn and bake cookies for junk food treats to ring in the new year. Throw in some bubbly with a kid-friendly twist. Sparkling grape juice looks like champagne and can be poured into a flute for the full experience. If you don’t want the drink to look too much like alcohol, consider opting for a kid-friendly punch. You can drink anything out of stemware for a fancy time!
Cozy Family Game Night
One of the coolest gifts I have seen for the holidays is a family gift handmade by the children. Powdered drink mixes are easy for little ones to make, and you can go to the dollar store for cute Christmas containers to keep them in. So, this year, one family I know is giving hot chocolate, a bag of popcorn, and a deck of playing cards. The possibilities are limitless for the games you can play with a single deck of cards. If card games aren’t your family’s thing, consider a board game or other game types. If you have older children who love mysteries, you can also order one of the murder mystery kits online. Other clue-like kits are also available for children who aren’t into the morbidity of murder or crime.
Let the Kids Stay Up Just Once
As your children get older, they will probably want to stay up to celebrate the new year with the traditional ball drop (or peach drop or anything else), depending on your preferred channel. Of course, you will want to preview the lineup for different programs to ensure that the late-night programming isn’t inappropriate for your child’s age group.
Feed the Homeless
Not everyone will have a warm, happy new year. Teach your children about giving back to the community during the holidays. The holiday season sees more people in shelters and soup kitchens than at other times of the year. However, the number of volunteers often declines sharply as well. While you want to teach your children to celebrate, you may also want to teach them that they have much to celebrate even when they don’t like everything in their lives.
First Day Hikes or Similar Programs
There are no less than fifteen first day hikes listed on the Oregon State Parks website right now. If your family isn’t fond of hiking, there are definitely alternatives. Think about the things you like to do outdoors that might be done in the winter and see if there is a community gathering near you. First-Day hikes are as diverse as hiking on your own. Some trails are not pet/ stroller friendly, and others are. You should check out the hikes near you before choosing one so that you can make sure you know what is available and feasible to you. If you do not choose the hiking programs, be sure to find all the rules and regulations before booking another activity. This is especially important with COVID-19 still a factor.
DIY Noisemakers and Snacks
Children love to be in the kitchen cooking and creating crafts. Alpha Mom has a great how-to for a noisemaker. Additionally, baking cookies doesn’t have to be a Christmas activity only. Sugar cookies with sugar sprinkles can be a glittery way to ring in the New Year. Think about making wish cookies too. These cookies can look like regular cookies, but you can encourage them to write one word on them before they are baked. The word should correspond to a wish they have for the new year. This will get them thinking about the new year and what they hope for in the future.
I don’t want to encourage anyone to ask their children for resolutions for the coming year. It’s not that I don’t think resolutions work, but I think that they sometimes send a message to the children that they need to change. If your child tells you of a hope or wish (see DIY noisemakers and snacks above), encourage them to think of ways to make that a reality. Setting goals is always a good idea. Keep in mind that holidays are unique times, and the time of year between Halloween and New Year’s Eve covers dozens of holidays regardless of religion or nationality. Their lives are already somewhat chaotic, and not opting for the late night doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong. Likewise, it’s one day, so if you do let them stay up, do so with confidence. Whatever you choose, Happy New Year to you and your family!