Celebrating New Year's Eve at Home, Family Style
- Go international. Want to get little ones to bed early? Pick a favorite international city and create a celebration with food, games and decorations to celebrate New Year's Eve in Paris, Tokyo or Cape Town. Picking simple foods -- egg rolls, dumplings or sticky rice balls and tea -- can introduce your child to a new part of the world and allows you be creative, too. Let kids bang on pots and pans to celebrate "midnight" like they do in China, says New York City party planner Linda Kaye.
- Get cooking. For older kids, try a Julia Child-inspired cooking night. Each member of the family can prepare one part of dinner, depending on their ability. Juice up the video camera and have each child describe what they are making, TV chef style. Meatballs and a veggie platter are easy and fun things for kids to prepare. At midnight, everyone can sit down to the feast and watch the video together.
- Take a look back. For non-cooking types, try a newscast instead. The news set could be at the dining room table, and an "anchor" could interview each family member about what happened that year. Your daughter could describe the year in sports, and your son could remind everyone about vacation, the new dog, a wedding or school events. Use a tablecloth made of newspapers and serve a buffet of chicken fingers, chips and drinks. Watch the video at midnight as you sip sugar-rimmed glasses of lemonade.
- Get funky. For a dress-up party, set up a nightclub in your home. Have everyone dress in festive clothing and decorate with silver and gold balloons, streamers and tablecloths. A karaoke machine will prompt most kids to sing, or play 'name that tune' with an iPod or stereo. "Bubble machines are another fun thing for kids on New Year's Eve," Washington, D.C.-based party planner Tony Scurry tells ParentDish.
- Frost it festive. Children of any age will enjoy decorating cupcakes on New Year's Eve. Make cupcakes in advance for younger children and set them out with a variety of toppings. Let children dip their cupcake in different bowls of frosting and then top with crystal sugar, sprinkles and even sparklers. "Kids love dazzle and excitement," Scurry says. Have a contest for most creative, most festive or most bedazzled cupcake.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.