When faced with new parenthood, many of us forgo celebrating the new year with parties, champagne toasts and well-past-midnight bedtimes. Now that you’re a mom or dad, you should still welcome the new year, but make it a “baby new year.” Having a party with your children, big or small, can still be wonderful and memorable. Below I’ve shared some things you can do to keep New Year’s Eve alive with small children in the house.
1. Dress up. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in your living room. Put on your fancy dress, dress the baby up in frills or a bow tie, and have a celebration. Even if it’s only for an hour—make that hour count.
2. Decorate with some sparkle! Babies and toddlers love shiny objects (grown-ups do too!). Christmas lights, glittery paper shapes and silver and gold streamers will make your at-home celebration stylish and small-child friendly.
3. Make party hats. Find some glittery paper and fashion tiaras or cone shaped hats—they will make perfect photo ops with your dress up clothes.
4. Have noisemakers on hand. You can easily make a few of these by putting pennies in rinsed soda cans wrapped in colorful paper or by putting beads in empty water bottles. Seal them well, and watch the babies enjoy!
5. Celebratory drinks. With infants, you may only be able to say “cheers” with milk bottles, but toddlers will enjoy any fizzy drink. There are many sparkling waters and ciders that will look great in a sippy cup and make the perfect tiny tot toast.
6. Celebratory snacks. Skip these for infants, but for toddlers, party food on New Year’s can be whatever you usually serve them made special—serve the snacks in individual containers and decorate the serveware with some festive accents.
7. Have some photo booth fun. The babies won’t remember the party, so make sure you take lots of photos. There are tons of photo booth props on the Internet that you can print and cut out if you look around a bit. Put up a bed sheet for a backdrop, and snap away.
8. Have a sing-along. Young kids love music and singing, and a few New Year’s Eve songs will make it a party activity with enthusiastic participation.
9. Record the year. Take a minute on New Year’s Eve to record a few of your child’s memories. Write their favorite color, food, toy and anything special that happened that year and put it away with your holiday decorations to take out and read the next holiday season.
10. Ring in the New Year. Early! While you may be up for a midnight feeding, your party doesn’t have to happen at the stroke of twelve. Party down before your children’s bedtime and just pretend it’s midnight!
Part of the joy of parenthood is sharing the things you love with your children. Enjoy, and see you 2013!