If you're accustomed to thinking of New Year's Eve as an occasion to dress up, go to a club, enjoy some champagne and come home late, try an at-home alternative that won't require a baby sitter. When you revise your New Year's expectations to include your children, you may be surprised at how much fun you can have in your own living room, minus the adult beverages and dry-clean-only wardrobe.
In keeping with the looking-forward, looking-back form of nostalgic optimism that often characterizes New Year's Eve, create some family-oriented instant memories of your own. Select favorite moments from the videos you've shot with your camcorder or smartphone, along with representative still photos from your digital camera, and create a special year's end-and-beginning video to play back on your HD TV. Depending on how you have your TV set up—attached to a home theater system with a Blu-ray player or supporting wireless streaming from other devices—you may be able to play back your movie directly from your home computer or a disc you burn yourself.
Especially if your children have reached the age at which they ask lots of questions, you can take advantage of their curiosity with a family time-capsule project. You may need to do some advance work on your home computer to pull together and print out photos and other milestones for the year that's about to depart. Ask your children what they would want to ask themselves in another five or 10 years and have them write down their questions. With truly little ones, make a special point of serving as the family scribe.
Decorate a box together with pieces of leftover holiday wrapping paper or materials you purchase for the occasion. Cut out numerals to add the current year and paste them on the box. When you've placed all your materials in the box, seal it up with package tape and store it ceremoniously in a closet. If you maintain this tradition each year, you can add an annual time-capsule opening ceremony that revisits the box from five or ten years past.
Global New Year's
With a Smart TV that accesses the Internet wirelessly from your home computer or other online device, look for footage of the celebrations going on in other time zones. As your local time ticks down to midnight, watch other countries and cities welcome the new year and correlate their locations on a global map that you display on a tablet device or smartphone. If you celebrate New Year's early in the day to accommodate the sleep needs of very young children, you can enjoy these worldwide ceremonies on New Year's Day instead. Don't forget the noisemakers, too.
Skip the bubbly and stick with family-friendly beverages such as sparkling cider or ginger ale. If your refrigerator includes carbonated water service on demand through its freezer door, you can make each family member a customized drink using prepared or home-made flavorings. On a range with timed cooking cycles, put a dish in the oven in advance and let your appliances take care of the baking process, provided the raw ingredients don't stay out of refrigeration too long before cooking begins. To keep your meal as low effort as possible, stick with fresh fruits and vegetables, cold sandwiches and warm cider spiced with a cinnamon stick.
Photo Credits: Anne Dale/DemandMedia
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