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How to Have Fun Celebrating New Year’s — With a New Baby

I’ll never forget New Year’s Eve 2007. I’d given birth to my first baby on Dec. 16, and less than a week after getting out of the hospital with my brand new boy, we were driving the length of the U.K. to visit relatives. Christmas passed in a sleep-deprived blur and by the time New Year’s came around, I was spent. I was done with socializing, I was done with biting my lip through the pain of breastfeeding in roomfuls of people — some of whom I barely knew — and I was done with being around drunk people.

Of course, you don’t have to have had a baby this late in the year to know that your New Year’s Eve plans are going to look pretty different from other years (but moms of December babies, I feel you). Staying up late, drinking and enduring hangovers just aren’t quite as appealing when you have a tiny early riser in your midst.

But that doesn’t mean you have to cancel New Year’s altogether. You just have to do things a little differently. It can be just as much fun without the 2 a.m. finishes and the constant stream of cocktails. Promise.

Watch the ball drop (indoors)

Unless you can spend a fortune on a babysitter — or have a family member in town who’s willing to watch the baby for free — you’re better off staying in to watch Ryan Seacrest et al ring in the new year in Times Square. (But did you really want to go to Times Square anyway? Ugh, crowds.) You can watch the 2020 ball drop in all its sparkling glory on TV, on the Times Square official website, or on Facebook or Twitter. Basically, it comes down to this: how much do you want to freeze your butt off in Times Square? Cozy baby cuddles are much more appealing.

Have a parents party

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If you still want to party on New Year’s Eve but don’t have a babysitter (in fact, let’s just assume that no parent in the history of New Year’s has even been able to get a babysitter, because that’s the reality for most people) you can throw a parents party. It’s basically like any other party, but it starts a few hours earlier and the average age of guests is a lot lower. Inviting other parents and their kids over for a casual New Year’s gathering is a win on so many levels. First of all, it’s in your own home, so you don’t have to pack up the 43 bags of stuff you need to take for your baby whenever you go anywhere. (This also means you can’t forget anything.) Plus, your fellow parents will be so relieved that they can stop worrying about what to do on New Year’s that they’ll probably bring mountains of food — this could keep you going until mid-January. And if you decide at 9 p.m. that you’ve had enough, you can use your baby as an excuse and sneak off to bed.

Go out to an early dinner

If your baby can tolerate a short meal in public without too much fuss — and this depends on their age and stage; a lot of tots don’t like to be confined to a high chair after they master the ability to crawl or move around in some other style of their choice — an early dinner at your favorite restaurant can be a memorable, family-friendly way to celebrate New Year’s. Or you could try somewhere different; just call ahead and make sure they accommodate infants. It’s a good idea to give your baby a nap and a fresh diaper just before you leave. And don’t forget those 43 bags…

Take your baby to the party

If you really, really want to go out to a party, go out to a party. Being a parent doesn’t mean you can’t do all the things you used to love. Unless that’s raving, in which case you really should find a sitter. Going to a party just involves a little more forward planning. Crucially, will there be somewhere quiet and semi-private where you can breastfeed or put your little one down for a nap? You might want to have a backup plan with your partner too — it’s best to decide ahead of time which one of you will leave the party early if your baby is grouchy, ill or refuses to sleep, rather, than have a blazing argument in front of all the other guests.

Make plans for New Year’s Day

Believe it or not, you won’t miss much if you go to bed early on New Year’s Eve. There’s no rule that you have to be awake at midnight to celebrate the new year. If you get a good sleep the night before, you can wake up feeling refreshed and hangover-free — what better way to kick off 2020? Going out for a special family brunch or having friends over for appetizers and cocktails/mocktails the next afternoon is something fun to look forward to, and your tot will be right there with you, enjoying every moment.

A version of this article was originally published in December 2012.

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