It’s one of the most hyped-up nights of the year, but celebrating New Year’s Eve can be tricky when you have kids, no babysitter and there’s a global pandemic!
Ringing in the New Year at home can still be lots of fun though. You might not be able to party like it’s 1999 (showing my age here!), but there are plenty of things you can do to evoke the party atmosphere.
Here’s some of our favourite New Year’s Eve traditions that will help the whole family party into 2021.
Bring it forward!
If midnight is too late for your children, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating at 12 noon, or a bit later in the afternoon. There are loads of pre-recorded countdowns on YouTube and Netflix, with fireworks and balloon drops. Or, you could watch a countdown from a previous year, so you get the excitement of the fireworks and chimes of the clock.
We blow up some balloons and have party poppers around, but I saw a few photos of homemade balloon drops that look really cool. You can order a balloon drop bag online, or make your own from some fabric and masking tape.
Add a splash of colour to the room with brightly coloured napkins, a nice tablecloth and paper cups.
Throw a wish into the fire
We did this a few years ago and although my oldest is still waiting for her cat (and has a few more years to go!), I think she really enjoyed the sentiment. This one is really simple; everyone writes a wish on a piece of paper, folds it up and throws it in the fire while hoping it comes true.
Eat 12 grapes
This is a Spanish tradition that my husband’s family takes part in. The idea is that you eat a grape for every bong from Big Ben. Whole grapes are a choking hazard for young children, but you could do halved grapes, or blueberries instead, and eat them to the bongs of a prerecorded countdown.
Write down your children’s favourite things
It’s so much fun to see how your children’s tastes and favourites change in just one short year. Write out some questions for them – and for yourself – then write down their answers and put them away until next NYE, when you read them aloud and do it all over again. You could ask about their favourite food, place, colour, subject, toy, song, story, TV show, joke, best friend and much more.
Start a “good memories” jar
A nice big mason jar works well for this. Every time you do something fun as a family, or the kids have a moment they want to remember, write it down and pop it into the jar. Next NYE, get them out and read them all aloud. I’ll confess that we started this a few years ago and ran out of steam a few months in, but we might actually dig out the jar and see what’s in it this NYE.
Write down what the year meant to you with positive eyes
This one is HARD this year. 2020 was awful for so many people, and there is no getting around that. But I recently saw a post on Facebook, where my friend’s little girl asked her teacher whether her class could write about 2020 from a positive slant. Apparently the results were beautiful. I’m going to ask my children to think about all the good things 2020 brought to them – that might not have happened otherwise. For example, connecting with their cousins on Zoom for a really fun quiz that we will now try and do every year, and awesome home schooling projects that they did with their dad (the more patient parent!). I think it will help me – and them – look forward to next year.
Mocktails with accessories
Our kids love mocktails – or even juice – in plastic champagne flutes with party accessories such as umbrellas and cherries. You could make your own fancy ice cubes too, or cut shapes out of melon to decorate the glasses.
Try mixing Sprite and orange juice with 2 teaspoons of Grenadine, garnished with a cherry, or have a go at one of these mocktails from BBC Good Food. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest too.
Run a Glow Stick bath
We do this on birthdays as well as NYE and the kids LOVE IT! Crack open a tube of glow sticks (we usually find them cheap at Home Bargains), tip them into a nice, warm bubbly bath and turn out the lights. So much fun! But don’t try it with kids who still put everything into their mouths!
New Year’s Eve Box!
I saw this on a friend’s FB feed and it looked brilliant. Think a Christmas Eve Box, but geared towards a party! Put in some party poppers, streamers, balloons, snacks, washable tattoos, glow sticks, some jokes, maybe a new game – whatever gets your kids in the mood!
I wish you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year, that’s hopefully a lot better than 2020! Thanks for all your support in 2020 and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Calderdale in 2021!