Our site has moved to: familytimescny.com


New Year’s Eve at Home

It is time for The Great Do-Over. We’re at the end of 2013 and on the cusp of 2014. What better way to observe the new year than with a family party.

Although I don’t celebrate the way I did when I was young and didn’t have kids, I still know how to throw an event to remember—except now I can stay in, wear comfy clothes and enjoy my children’s excitement. Your family’s Dec. 31 festivities can also be laid-back because kids don’t care as long as they have a good time.



We start with oodles of munchies and make homemade pizzas together. Fresh dough is easy and inexpensive to pick up at the grocery store. Each package is one pound—or one pizza. A jar of pizza sauce will cover several.

Having a few choices for toppings makes all the difference. I buy cheese, green peppers, mushrooms, onions and pepperoni. Buy whatever your family prefers; just be sure to let the dough rise at room temperature for an hour or so before stretching out your pizza.

Each of my kids likes the idea of being chef for a night, complete with apron. They get to make their own dinner just how they like it. Plus, there is no lengthy wait for the delivery person and no stress traveling wintry December roads.


Noisemakers and More

Accessorize with favors such as sparkly headbands, beads and funny sunglasses that can be purchased anywhere. Noisemakers are always a hit, but mostly with the kids. We had to have designated timeouts for the toys to keep our sanity. I think I actually hid them before the next morning with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude. It’s still worth it to see the excitement on their faces (if not, maybe having a glass of wine will help).


© Glenda powers | Dreamstime.com


Root beer floats are basic but special. Dollar stores are a great place to buy mugs or glasses for floats, too. Place a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream in the glass and slowly pour in root beer soda. Have the kids help top it off with real whipped cream and a cherry. It’s a simple but memorable experience to assemble a float—so don’t forget the camera!



There are a lot of activities to do in the evening and most are dependent upon age and cooperation. In our house, games like Trouble or Go Fish have been popular at various points—or just showing a favorite movie. In recent years, we’ve put in videos of what we’ve filmed over the last 12 months to laugh and reminisce. It’s amazing how much people change. (In my experience, teens and tweens will quietly indulge in this fun despite their denials.) It’s a great time to bond, reflect and share thoughts and memories of what they’re seeing on the screen.

Later in the evening we like to put on the Rockin’ New Year’s Eve television specials for the musical groups. It also can help keep the older kids from sneaking back to their room to do whatever teens do when the food is gone.


Winding Down

End the evening early with a mock midnight countdown. Kids like any opportunity to make a lot of noise. Mine get a kick out of throwing pieces of confetti all over the place on purpose—without mom melting down. Actually, they giggle a lot when I throw throw paper all over my own floor. So get silly and show your little ones you can still let loose and enjoy yourself. (Putting the partiers to bed early also allows some alone time for Mom and Dad to snuggle and relax while watching the ball drop.)

Whatever families do with their children I can tell you it is for a limited time. Kids only want to be with their parents while they’re cool, and our cool factor decreases drastically as they get older. So take this time to appreciate being in a snug, warm home surrounded by the people you love as the new year is welcomed in. o


Laura Livingston Snyder is a writer and mother of four who lives north of Syracuse. She blogs at nestingdolll.blogspot.com. Send email to her at editorial@familytimes.biz.

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York