Sure, it's not the same as hanging out at the coolest club or hitting the hottest party in town — but you can still have fun while ushering in the new year with toddlers and young kids.
Do your kids generally go to sleep at 7 or 8 p.m.? Don't make the little ones have to strain to stay up until midnight. Instead, set your clock forward a couple of hours so that they can still celebrate at mock midnight — they don't have to know it's early.
Cooking with kids is always fun. In the hours leading up to midnight, you can bake cookies, prepare chips and dips, or put together a special meal. Make something special to ring in the new year — you may be starting a new annual tradition.
At midnight, pour a round of sparkling cider into plastic champagne glasses. Toast the new year with your kids and reflect on all your blessings from the last year. Turn up the music, give everyone noisemakers and, if you don't mind the mess, allow your kids to throw confetti. What's a little bit of clean-up when you're making memories?
Forget the ordinary party hats — put on your best dress and encourage your kids to dress up in style. Boys can wear bow ties, vests and Daddy's fedora, while your little girls can put on Mommy's heels, jewelry and bright red lipstick. Kids love dressing up, so get fancy to ring in the new year. Make sure to take plenty of pictures to savor the moment in the future.
New Year's Eve is a great time for crafting and scrapbooking. Have your kids help put together an album or memory book of all the fun activities and events your family experienced in the last year. Include pictures, drawings and ideas from each family member, no matter how little. Make a new book every year on New Year's Eve — you'll treasure them for years to come, particularly when your nest is empty.
You might want to have a special dinner with your kids, celebrate at mock midnight, and then have a babysitter put them to bed while you go out on the town with your hubby. Though that's a great idea — date night is always fun with your partner — you can also spend the whole night at home with your kids by hosting a family slumber party. Break out the sleeping bags or pitch a tent in the living room. Roast marshmallows on the fireplace, pop popcorn and watch your favorite movies on DVD. If you are having a slumber party in the living room or family room, your younger kids can fall asleep whenever they get tired, while the older ones (as well as Mom and Dad) can stay up a little later.
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