When I was a kid, I remember looking forward to New Year’s Eve: It was the one night of the year that my brothers and I could stay up all night long (well, until midnight), eating junk food and watching movies until finally the ball would drop in Times Square, indicating the end of the current year (as well as bedtime). I don’t think I ever fell asleep after about the age of six… which is more than I can say about the past twelve years! Usually I’m sleeping on the couch and the kids wake me up a few minutes before the countdown begins.
How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? While we usually just do the junk-food-and-movies thing, I’ve been looking into other ways to commemorate the occasion. Here are a few:
- Go through your calendar with the kids. While we all have calendars on our phones now, I still keep a wall calendar; I think that most people do! If you have a wall calendar or a little one that you keep in your purse, chances are that you have a lot of notes written down about birthday parties, dentist appointments and special guests. Go through each month with the kids and try to remember some of them. Some won’t seem memory-worthy, but the kids tend to remember different things that we grownups do, so you might be surprised.
- Borrow traditions from other cultures. Either pick activities that you like or research what people do for New Years Eve in the area of the world where your ancestors are from. One of my childhood friends was Greek, and his mother would bake a cake for the new year with a dime mixed into the batter. The person who got the dime in his or her slice would have good luck through the coming year. We had a Spanish exchange student earlier this year who told me about a tradition where each person ate a grape during each of the 12 clock strikes of midnight. Both of these require caution, especially if your kids are small, as they could cause choking, of course, so use your discretion and common sense!
- Tweak the movie-night-til-the-wee-hours tradition. If your kids are little or you are an early bird, celebrate the new year at 8:00 or 10:00 instead of midnight. Or if you can’t sit through hours of kid-flicks, consider watching a series of documentaries that everyone is interested in. One year, we watched Planet Earth and played games while that was on in the background. My kids are really into MythBusters now; maybe we’ll do that this year!
- Make your own traditions! Do whatever you want that makes the night special. Gather around the fireplace to make s’mores, go camping, have a family sleepover on the living room floor, exchange gifts, rearrange the furniture, or do anything else that you can continue year after year as a treasured tradition to look back on.
We have some quirky food traditions that we do on New Years such as the 12 grapes, a bowl of black eyed peas with collard greens and many more.
We wish you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve tomorrow night!