When you're a parent of young children, celebrating New Year's Eve until the wee hours of January 1st just isn't an option anymore. Don't worry though: a fun kick-off to 2012 is still possible! With the help of these tips from our Party Planning Moms, on everything from how to do the countdown to terrific activity suggestions, you'll love ringing in the New Year with your little ones.
1. When to Do the Countdown
An obvious dilemma of celebrating New Year's Eve with children is that the main event occurs long past children's bedtimes. The countdown solution? Embrace the fact that it's always midnight somewhere.
For example, JoAnne Wuneburger of oh goodie designs offers a kid's countdown at noon, while Jillian Tohber Leslie of Catch My Party is one of many west coast moms who celebrate on a New York schedule: “We still get the anticipation of a countdown and our daughter gets to stay up a little extra late, but no one (including my husband) has a meltdown at 11:45pm. :)”
If you bravely decide to stay up to midnight, put a plan in place for when the kids start to fall asleep. Jodie Valenti of Party NV explains her strategy for throwing New Year's parties that are both child- and adult-friendly: "After the ball drops we have all of the children get into their jammies and curl up in the den with a movie (most usually pass out at this point) and the parents can have some uninterrupted adult time."
2. What to Serve
Festive drinks are a fun part of New Year's Eve, and there's no reason that a kid-friendly celebration can't include them. Jennifer Kirlin of BellaGreyDesigns offers "fun beverages like a sparkling punch and ginger ale," while Jodie Valenti of Party NV tries to accommodates everyone: "I set up a kiddie bar with different non-alcoholic mixes so that [the kids] can have some fun, and of course an adult bar for adult beverages!
As far as food goes, Shandra Ward of Signature Style Design and Lifestyle Blog keeps it simple with "kid-friendly food like turkey sliders, ham and pineapple skewers, and honey fruit salad and other bite-sized foods." For an extra cute treat, Staci B. Golden of lizard & ladybug makes “countdown cupcakes with marshmallows to look like the ball at Times Square.”
3. How to Make it Fun
While many moms celebrate New Year's Eve just with their immediate families, others say they've had a great time in the past at parties where kids and old acquaintances alike gather to sing Auld Lang Syne together. As Jodie Valenti of Party NV shares, "We like to have a 'kid-friendly' New Year's Eve because almost all of our friends are in that stage of life. It makes it easier for everyone, plus the kids really enjoy themselves."
No matter who's there, many moms suggest that the secret to making it fun for all is to turn New Year's Eve into a game night. As Jillian Tohber Leslie of Catch My Party shares, “We all played Dance Central on Kinect for the Xbox. Watching the dads take a turn dancing was an absolute blast.” Similarly, Jodie Valenti of Party NV relays: "We have both kid (video games, board games, foosball, etc.) and adult (games & conversation) activities and even some that co-mingle, like karaoke...."
Of course, don't forget to stock up on little horns, streamers, confetti, or balloons for whenever your countdown happens. "When we get down to "midnight" we blow horns and pop balloons," shares Jennifer Kirlin of BellaGreyDesigns. "The kids have so much fun."