Focus on Family: Family-friendly ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve

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Donna Bozzo

Make It FUN

Many say there’s a lot of pressure to make New Year’s Eve fun, memorable and engaging enough to keep everyone AWAKE to actually ring in the New Year. It doesn’t have hard. Make your New Year’s Evening at home fun for the whole family with simple games. I like family games of all types, and there are many you can buy for the night.  But, it can be as simple as making homemade confetti and banging on pots and pans to ring in the New Year. Or I like this — affixing sheets of bubble wrap to the floor and letting little ones stomp their way into the New Year — pop, pop, pop. Balloon drops can be fun and you add to excitement by putting New Year’s predictions into the balloons before you blow them up.  If you really like to make some noise,  pop for your prediction.  Or try this simple dice game I call Wishes — each family member takes a turn rolling the dice. Announce your wishes for the New Year — as many as the number on the dice. A simple way to get things started or do even do at dinner.

Make It Stick

What about all those New Year’s resolutions you’ll be making???  According to the University of Scranton — only a meager 8 percent of folks actually keep their resolutions. So if you don’t want to be a statistic  this year— how do you make sure your resolutions stick?  Here are a couple ideas to put in your arsenal — I call it my Resolution Survival Kit. Write your resolutions out on notecards, slip into frames and put places you will see them often. I keep mine on my nightstand so it’s the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see when I fall to sleep.  Try chunking down your goals and writing those little checks and targets  into your calendar now so that it keeps you on pace. Or make your progress more visual — these are what I call Goal Jars. So say you want to run a half marathon — every time you suit up to run you put a chip, a marble, a penny, an M&M — whatever you decide –into the jar so you can see your goal building, progressing.  Oh, and these are fun — they are I WILL t-shirts you can find at that allow you to actually wear your resolutions on your sleeve.  Or you and the kids can even make your own Resolution T-shirts with a bit of spray paint and letters.  Lastly, make sure you have what you need to succeed. If it’s eat healthy, fill your fridge with healthy food TODAY while you’re inspired.  If it’s exercise more — I know this is a big one on most people’s list —  I say invest in great work out clothes — they’ll give you incentive to get to the gym. has a cute line.

Make It Meaningful

Traditions are important to kids and families so why not add some tradition to make your celebration more meaningful?  We spend New Year’s with my godson’s family and his great aunt leads the children in a candle ceremony from Croatia — a way to signify whether it’ll be a prosperous year for the family. I say if you don’t already have an old family tradition — look to your ancestors for one you can resurrect or just establish on your own. Here a couple you can can try…


According to Chinese custom, fish represent wealth and prosperity because the actual word in Chinese for fish also means abundance. So why not incorporate goldfish into your evening. This is fun. Put a goldfish in a long container for each child and mark levels the fish can swim to signifying the child’s prediction for the New Year, they can watch to see where their fish swims that night — makes for a fun evening and a fun new year pet.


Folks in Spain eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to ensure 12 happy months. A fun and healthy midnight snack and a reason to stay up until the stoke at 12.! Make it fun by breaking into teams and tossing grapes into your opponents mouth. See if you can get to 12.


In Greece, people celebrate New Year’s by baking a cake with a coin in it — the lucky one to find it in her slice will have a prosperous New Year. So bake a cake together and find the Lucky One in your family!


Here you can see people walking around the block with an empty suitcase — to bring fun travels to the upcoming year. I say bring a flashlight and make the travel walk an adventure!


Let a little horseplay into your evening. In Japan, it’s customary to dress like the animal of the New Year, 2014 is the Year Of The Horse. Great dress up ideas for little ones for sure.

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