Happy New Year! How to Party with Kids!

Happy New Year! How to Party with Kids!

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2020? When I was a kid, that sounded like a crazy year of everyone wearing all silver and flying around in their space cars. Yet here I sit, typing on a computer I could fold in half and carry anywhere, wearing comfortable leggings that I used to sell from my home, about to go outside to put my oldest son on the bus to Kindergarten. I guess that is all about as foreign to my child self as wearing silver and flying cars.

SO! We had our epic New Years Eve party once again. While some people immediately think of desperately searching for a babysitter so they can be free to ring in the new year, that’s not where my mind ever goes. I want my family with me for big events! So my thought process is more about how to incorporate my kids, and the kids of our close friends, so that they have a great time, too.

My dear friend, Pam, once asked if she and her husband, Frank, could bring their son to our New Years party. We had never had a child present at our parties back then, but we of course said, “Sure! What does he eat?” Pam laughed and gave me some ideas, and she brought along something awesome that I stole for this year’s party! She had brown paper bags she drew clock faces on, and each bag had something fun for her son to do when it was opened at that specified time. So clever! I think this was even before Pinterest, friends, so Pam is just super clever. This year, I was at Party City, picking out 1920s-esque plates and napkins and such, and I wandered over to the party favors area. Our friend, Jane, would be at our party with her two daughters, and our friend, Ryan, with his son, as well as our neighbor besties and their daughter. We didn’t know if other kids might be in attendance as well, so I got enough little goodies for ten kids. I drew clock faces for 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, and midnight. The bags held 2020 glasses, little rubix cubes, glitter tattoo stickers, bubbles, and Christmas crackers to pop at midnight.


(I like the plate of half-eaten veggie straws in this, the only photo of the bags.)

Not only were the kids into the bags and surprises, I found a lot of adults gathered every hour to see what the next bag held! The kids each claimed some glitter tattoos and the nearby adults asked, “Could I have one of those?” It was so fun. The hours were marked by a fun time with the kids, making the adults feel like kids again, too, and that was an awesome unexpected bonus.

A long-held tradition of my family’s is burning regrets. We write down any regrets we had that year and, before midnight, we gather them up and burn them. It’s cathartic to see something you regret burning and flying away as ashes in the dark winter sky. Some of the kids came outside in the 30-degree weather to burn regrets (or to see what it was all about and why people had gone outside in their coats in the middle of the party). The group gathered as always and we had our moment, then we took our annual group photo outside.


We usually burn regrets around 11pm, so by the time we all go outside and come back in, the time is near for the big ball drop. This year, when we got back inside, we did the last of the kids’ bags, maybe around 11:20, and they gathered together, pulled the crackers, and put on their little paper crowns. A group of us adults made a big deal around them, saying, “Kids’ New Year!” Then they scampered off in different directions, some to bed, some to a game or toy, some downstairs to see what the big fuss around the tv was.

At five minutes to midnight, my eldest and youngest sons were awake, my middle one had passed out on the couch in the middle of all the party din. (The baby had been taking little naps on and off all evening, but was awake again.) The countdown began, and a group of about 30 people shouted the numbers with champagne and smiles. Suddenly 2020 was upon us, just like that. We ushered our kids off to bed, shared some more fun times with our friends, and offered sleeping spots to everyone who could not, should not, or would rather not drive home. I went up to bed around 2am, looking at my three sleeping sons in my bedroom. A small group of people were up until about 4:45am, writing a Prawn Song (don’t ask) and making brand new memories in the wee hours of the new year.

All this to say, it’s possible to enjoy a holiday normally thought of as “Adults Only” with children present. We have lost some friends along the way who simply don’t want to be around children, and to that I shrug and feel like a true friend would love an extension of you as well. As my mom always says, “Sometimes people come into your life for a reason and then move on. Sometimes YOU were the person who came into THEIR life and then moved on. It doesn’t mean the friendship didn’t mean something if you end up going separate ways.” My mom is wise, as always. We enjoy spending time with our kids and ringing in the new year with them is a tradition I look forward to for many many years to come.

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