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10 Fun Ways to Celebrate New Year's With the Family

Here are some fun ways to celebrate the arrival of the new year at home with the kids.
New Years with the Family
By: Laurie Mega

Every New Year's Eve is the same. You think you'll get out on the town and do it up right: a romantic dinner, a glamorous party and a ball-drop. But if you've got kids, especially young ones, chances are you'll find yourself on the couch, falling asleep to an episode of Stranger Things at about 9:30.

More: Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Families

But why not take this opportunity to celebrate at home, and get the kids involved? I mean, really, who wants to go out in the cold and spend all that money on prix-fixe and babysitters anyway, amiright?

Make Party Favors

What's a New Year's Eve party without the proper hats, noisemakers, poppers and confetti? Get the kids involved in making these fun party favors for your at-home celebration, and have everything ready and waiting when the clock strikes twelve.


Home Movies: Dinner and a Show

Most of us have hours of home videos, but how often do we look at them? Spend the last evening of the year looking back as your family's great moments. This might take a little prep, finding the videos, but it'll be fun to relive first steps, school plays and family vacations. Make it a real movie experience by making popcorn and getting theater-style candy.

El Año Viejo

Try a New Year's tradition from Colombia, Ecuador and other Latin countries. Build a dummy representing the Año Viejo (the old year), using sturdy paper or cardboard. "Dress" it by drawing clothes on it or gluing on scraps of old clothing from each family member. Write down your faults and bad luck on a piece of paper. Exactly at midnight, tear Año Viejo into shreds. If you have a fire going in your fireplace, throw in the shreds and let them burn. While Año Viejo is being destroyed, read the list of faults and bad luck out loud, to make them vanish along with the old year.

Make Fondue

Cheese fondue is just plain fun. You'll need a heavy pot for the fondue, a hot plate or burner to keep the fondue warm on the table, some long forks, and a loaf of crusty bread. Cut the bread into bite-sized pieces, keeping some crust on each piece. When the fondue is ready, gather everyone around the pot and take turns dipping the bread in the melted cheese.

If you lose your piece of bread in the pot, tradition says you either have to kiss the person on your left, kiss everyone at the table or pay a forfeit devised by others at the table.

You can also try chocolate fondue

Have a Family Slumber Party

Cue up a family-friendly movie. Shop for snacks. Pick up a deck of cards and break out the board games. Spread pillows and sleeping bags or blankets on the floor and camp out for the night. Cook one of your favorite meal and eat it by candlelight in the living room. See who's still awake at midnight!

Midnight in Another Country

If your kids are small, it's hard to keep them up for midnight festivities. So celebrate midnight in another country, when it's still early in your part of the world. Get in the spirit by playing music and serving food from that country. You could celebrate the New Year in Paris, Greenland or even the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (with an underwater theme).

Make a Vasilopita (Greek Good-Luck Cake)

It's a Greek tradition to serve vasilopita (New Year's Cake) at midnight. This special cake or bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden inside. The head of the household cuts the cake exactly at midnight. Whoever gets the piece with the coin will have good fortune all year.

Make a traditional vasilopita, or bake your favorite cake instead! (I like red velvet.)

Word to the wise: Use a charm that won't melt (not plastic), or a coin you washed really really well. They're pretty dirty. You'll also want to look for the coin before kids start eating, to avoid a choking hazard.

New Years Cake

More: Let's Celebrate! New Year's Card

Throw a New Year's Ball at Home

Turn your family room or heated garage into a ballroom with a disco ball, curtains and strings of lights. Gather lots of different kinds of dance music, from Big Band to Top 40, so everyone can have fun dancing. Dress code can be casual (pajamas encouraged) or formal.

Make your own disco ball out of paper mâché and glittery paper. Fill it with candy and small prizes (movie passes, kazoos, etc.), and let it drop and break open at midnight.

Make Fun Drinks

Raise these trick martinis in a toast. Let the kids make Shirley Temples with some ginger ale and grenadine – or better yet, purchase some sparkling grape juice so the kids can get the full toasting experience!

Pig Out

Cook a feast full of kid-friendly foods. Let each child choose a frozen appetizer or meal at the grocery store or treat them to something they are normally not allowed to have.

Staying home with the family on New Year's Eve is a great bonding opportunity -- and think of all the money you'll save on a babysitter! Try out any of these activities, and create your own New Year's traditions!

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