31 December 2012 10:32 AM

Ten Ways to Have New Year's Family Fun

by rbavaria

The other day we discussed a dozen ways for families to have some Christmas fun .  Today, let’s concentrate on New Year’s, shall we?  I’m all for families getting together, building memories together, enjoying each other’s company, and, especially for New Year’s, easing up on the bedtime routines.  (If midnight’s still too late, see tip number seven for an easy idea.)


The whole purpose of family togetherness is to be with one another, so unplug at least for the most important parts – the movie, the wishes, the conversations – and show the kids they’re the most important people in your life.


Here are ten ideas I’ve used myself or got from some pretty creative teachers and parents.  I’m pretty sure you’ll find one or two just right for your family at New Year’s.


1.      Make New Year’s resolutions.  Everyone writes three resolutions on individual strips of paper.  One resolution about home.  One about school.  One about a personal goal, like being a good friend.  Read them aloud.  "This year, my resolutions are . . .” Everyone listens politely and then pledge to support each other.  “I can help Andy with his resolution about getting his homework done by not bugging him during his study time each night.” 

2.      Make wishes for each other.  Tell what you want to come true for yourself during the new year.  Then tell what you want to come true for other family members.  Include a compliment.  This fosters bonding.  “I hope Barb makes the lacrosse team this year.  She sure does practice hard, and she deserves it.”

3.      Learn about New Year celebrations in other cultures.  In some South American countries, for instance, people write their "faults" on a sheet of paper and, at midnight, shred them or throw them into a fire.  Good bye, faults!  In Greece, many families bake a cake with a "lucky charm" baked into it.  (You can bake in a penny.)  At midnight, they cut the cake.  The person who gets the lucky charm will have "good fortune" all year.  Look up customs for your ancestors' countries.

4.      Watch a movie together as a family.  Some families choose favorites – Shrek, Home Alone, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. – while other families like to find old-timers like the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera.  Cuddle up.  Everyone wear PJs.  A nice variation of this movie night is to view all the videos and photos the family's taken this year – vacations, family gatherings, special occasions.  Talk about how much you enjoy being together.

5.      Make yummy snacks.  Serve up kid-friendly snacks like pizza, mac 'n cheese, mini-sandwiches, fruit and veggie trays, chicken fingers, and favorite cookies.  Or – stay with me here, it’s fun, really – put on the Ritz and have the whole family contribute to a fancy schmancy dinner, complete with candles on the table, the nice dinnerware, and even dress-up clothes.

6.      Dress up for fun.  Speaking of dressing up for dinner, you could try other unusual and fun clothes for the occasion.  Dress up as your favorite hero from a book or movie.  Dress up as a favorite character from a story.  Dress up as your future occupation – doctor, mechanic, teacher, nurse, "mad" scientist, Indy race car driver, rock star, cowboy, or firefighter. 

7.      Welcome in the New Year together.  Make noisemakers, decorations, funny hats, confetti, and New Year drawings.  If the kids can't make it to midnight, choose a part of the world whose time is ahead of us – the country of your European or Asian ancestors, for instance, or a place you’ve always wanted to visit – and celebrate with that time zone.

8.      Make New Year’s crafts.  Here's an easy one that I've done with students and family – make bookmarks with the new year on it, design them individually, color or paint them, sprinkle them with glitter, and then give them to friends and neighbors as a new year's wish for happiness.

9.      Sing "Auld Lang Syne."  It's traditional, naturally, so learn the lyrics by Scottish poet Robert Burns and what they mean (“old long since,” or “a long time ago”), and then sing your hearts out.  The louder the better. 

10.  Count your blessings.  While you're at it, take time as a family to recognize your many blessings and give thanks for them.  Pledge to take time regularly to be grateful all year, to be helpful to each other, and to be a good friend to all your buds and classmates.


Take pictures of all the fun, hug each other, wish each other a Happy New Year, congratulate the kids for managing to stay up so late (or let them congratulate you for staying up so late), and then go to bed with a smile on everyone’s face.  Happy New Year.




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