Spend New Year’s at home as a family

How do you make a New Year’s party that the whole family can enjoy?

For years, I barely acknowledged New Year’s Eve to my three kids so they wouldn’t know they were missing anything. I either went to some flashy grownup event or skipped it and went to bed. In the morning, I explained about the date change.

Last year, though, our family attended a party at a friend’s, and it was genuinely heartwarming. I began to think it was worth making an effort to mark the holiday, together, at home.

Try these simple crafting and cooking projects with extended family or close friends and their children.

1. New Year’s poster: Label a poster board “What I want to do in 2013.” It can be simple, with a lot of room to write, or it can be decorated by kids who know their way around a poster board. Tape it up somewhere central — I like the refrigerator — and keep markers nearby. Write in an entry or two, whether resolution-like (“I want to take up jogging”) or wishful thinking (“I want to explore the Amazon”) to get the list going.

2. Table top: A great idea from Sabrina James, style director at Parenting Magazine, is to paint inexpensive plastic chargers (the larger plates that go under dinner plates) with black chalkboard paint, then have the kids decorate the plates with white chalk. No chargers or chalkboard paint? How about a “tablecloth” of Kraft paper. The kids can draw and decorate their own placemats.

3. Making some noise: James suggests painting small, empty raisin boxes with silver or gold spray paint. Let the kids glue on small gems or sequins. Fill the boxes with dry pasta or rice, and tape a Popsicle stick to the back.

4. Food: Focus on old family favorites, or on foods that some cultures say bring good luck. According to Epicurious.com, cooked greens symbolize money and good fortune; pork means prosperity. Don’t eat anything that moves backward, like lobster. My teenage daughter likes to bake a holiday cake and get creative with frosting.

5. After-meal activity: Karaoke is a new tradition for our family. Systems range in price from less than $100 to more than $1,000 and can be rented, too. Nintendo wii Disney Sing It has selections the whole family knows.

Finally, do you or don’t you keep the kids up till midnight? Go for it, but be prepared to send them to bed or say good night early if they fall apart.

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