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How to have a New Year’s Eve party with your family

  • McClatchy-Tribune
  • Published Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, at 10:36 p.m.

At home with the kids this New Year’s? While it may not seem like the most family friendly of holidays, there are many ways to keep the night exciting while still staying G rated.

“New Year’s is really about bonding,” said Linda Kaye, owner of Partymakers, a children’s party planner for high-profile New Yorkers. “It’s a time for looking back on the year — and you should have some fun with it.”

That means getting a little creative.

• Dress the part. “Kids love seeing their parents dress up when they go to a big New Year’s celebration, so you can let them dress up for their own home-based fancy party,” said Sue Kirchner, mother of two and owner of online children’s product retailer www.chocolatecakeclub.com and family activity blog www.chocolatecakemoments.com.

No need to go buy new expensive outfits. You can either pull out an outfit the child would use for some other occasion or head to a resale shop to get some snazzy duds at a fraction of the cost.

You can even roll out a little red carpet for their grand entrance, Kaye suggests.

• Celebrate another time zone. Not planning to keep the kids up until midnight? You could use the old trick of setting the clocks back a few hours, or you could celebrate a New Year’s time zone that’s a bit more accommodating. You can even make it an educational opportunity by learning about the culture of each country you celebrate.

“Every culture has its unique traditions for the night,” Kirchner said. “Use the time to talk about them and practice a few, such as Spain’s ritual of eating 12 grapes at midnight.”

• Embrace low-maintenance decor and party favors. The last thing busy parents need is a bunch of messy decor to clean up, so keep it simple. Still have your Christmas tree up? Kirchner likes the idea of decking it out for New Year’s, especially since the holiday usually occurs right before it’s time to take it down. Let each child take a turn at decorating the tree to make it a family affair.

Celebratory fireworks may be out of the question, but that doesn’t mean your little party guests can’t make some noise. A safe, inexpensive — and quiet — alternative: bubble wrap, which you can pick up at any office supply store. “Put it on the floor for kids to jump on, and you have your own fireworks,” Kaye said.

It’s fun for them, and better yet, easy for you to pick up in the morning.

• Serve festive good and drink. Sparkling apple cider makes an excellent champagne alternative. “You can even serve it in a glass with a raspberry to make it look like a real cocktail,” Kaye said.

And get food into the New Year’s action with a clock made out of cake. You can bake or buy a plain white cake from the store, and then create clock hands out of marzipan or dark-colored frosting.

• Create a time capsule. New Year’s is a holiday that celebrates the past as much as the future. What better way to reflect than a handcrafted time capsule reviewing 2012’s top trends? Have each child create his or her own, and then have them take turns presenting it.

“You can set it as a tradition, so each year you go back to the capsules and hear things like ‘I can’t believe we used a camera that size!’ ” Kaye said.

• Make it a game night. Take advantage of all those new games the children got as gifts during the holidays. “We’ve hosted a New Year’s game night where you set up a different game in each room and rotate every hour,” said Kirchner, adding that you can buy some candy for the kids to earn as prizes.

Craft kits can also provide hours of entertainment for kids.

And of course, you can always make a game out of the night’s most popular activity: New Year’s resolutions. “Get the whole family involved by having everyone write down their resolution on an index card,” Kaye said. “Then put them face down on the floor and have people pick and guess who wrote it.”

After a busy holiday season, the key to a successful New Year’s celebration is keeping it easy on yourself. “When you have your own kids, you’re tired and may not want to stay up that late,” Kirchner said. “But you can still get into the celebration.”

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