I remember my New Year’s Eve celebrations as a young, single gal. They started with a cute, sparkly outfit and ended with glasses clinking and confetti flying. Flash forward 20 years and three kids later and New Year’s Eve is much, much tamer.
Scratch that, it’s still crazy, but for entirely different reasons.
After all, who wants to pay a babysitter one MILLION dollars to get dressed up, go out in the cold weather only to feel terrible the next day? No one. So, instead of leaving the house for a hotel bash downtown, cozy up inside with friends and let the kids in on the fun, too!
6 tips for throwing a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party
1. Invite friends
While you could keep it simple with just your immediate family, my motto is: “The more, the merrier” when it comes to New Year’s Eve. We especially try to invite families with kids the same ages as our kids so everyone has friends to hang out with for the night.
2. Start (and end) early
Our New Year’s parties begin at 6:30 p.m. and typically end around 10 p.m. They used to end as early as 8:30 or 9 p.m. when our kids were younger and needed to get to bed. Now that they’re older we’ve extended the fun a bit later, but are always conscious of those who have littles with earlier bedtimes. No one wants to start the new year with cranky kids….or moms.
3. Food and drink
New Year’s Eve isn’t complete without yummy appetizers and snacks. We invite everyone to bring something to share and the kitchen, inevitably, becomes a central location for gathering and conversation. We usually provide kid-friendly drinks, but we let guests know they are welcome to bring their own adult beverages.
4. Designate fun areas for grown-ups and kids
The adults congregate on the main level between the kitchen and family room while the kids rule the basement and upstairs levels. We set up video games, movies, games, and crafts in the kid areas. This lets everyone have their own space for fun without the kid volume and chaos overtaking the whole house. One year we had a balloon countdown for the kids and every half hour they popped a balloon which contained an activity for them to do. This kept the kids entertained throughout the night.
But, not to leave the adults out if the mix, we compete in an annual tradition of playing Four People On A Couch with the grown-ups. We only play this game at New Year’s so it is something everyone looks forward to and gives the adults something to do besides grazing in the kitchen.
5. Toast it up!
We buy bottles of sparkling grape juice and end the night with a toast. We express our thanks for coming and for their friendship and then we all join in a New Year’s Eve countdown circled around the kitchen. Noisemakers optional.
6. Ring it in with the NYC
When all is said and done and the last guests make their way home, gather your family on the couch to watch the ball drop in New York City and then call it a night. This puts you to bed before midnight feeling rested and ready for the new year when the sun rises the next morning.
Your 20-something self couldn’t have imagined this is what her future New Year’s Eves would look like. But, your current self knows there’s no place else you’d want to be.