Ringing in the new year with kids

Let’s begin with this simple fact — unless the restaurant clearly states that it is hosting a “family-friendly New Year’s Eve” event, or it offers high chair seating, a family with young children is persona non grata. And can you blame them? A boozy grown-up party is no place for the young ‘uns. No one wants them there and honestly, they don’t want to be there. Get a sitter or limit your events to those featuring Rocknoceros and apple juice.

But sitters are hard to come by on New Year’s Eve and, let’s be honest, now that you have kids, 10 p.m. is about the latest you can keep your eyes open. Leave the late nights at the cool clubs and restaurants to your single (or childless) friends. To quote Larry David, the idea of an early New Year’s party sounds “pretty, pretty good.”

Invite friends (with kids) and start the party early. Exact time depends on the age of the children.

Now for the fun. Get out the construction paper, glitter, glue, pompoms, stickers and ribbons and have your children make party hats for your guests. Simply roll the paper into a cone and use a staple to secure the shape. Use a hole punch to punch holes on opposite sides of the perimeter of the cone and tie strings to each hole. Your guests will use these strings to make a bow under their chins, thus tying the hats to their heads. Decorate the hats with glitter, pompoms, stickers, etc. Give one to each guest as they arrive.

Plan a menu of “lucky” foods. Black-eyed peas (365 should be eaten if you want to be truly lucky) and collared greens that look like folded money are traditional in the South. The Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight (you can eat them whenever you plan your “countdown”). And, in many areas around the world, it is tradition to eat sweet, round foods (hmmm, sounds like Rosh Hashanah). Sweet and round? Sounds like donuts are in order!

Don’t forget the sparkling cider in plastic champagne glasses.

Find fun 2013 sunglasses (the kind partygoers wear in Times Square) and invite all of your guests to wear them.

Buy 10 helium balloons. (Buy enough additional balloons for each child.) When it’s time to countdown, ask 10 guests to each sit on the floor, holding the balloon low. Gather all the guests in a circle around the balloon holders. The holders will release one balloon at a time as everyone counts down from 10. When everyone yells, “Happy New Year!” the children will release the remaining balloons.

Add meaning to the festivities with resolution cards. Ask each guest to write a resolution on a card. Place it in an envelope with the guest’s name written on the outside. Seal the envelope. Keep the envelopes until 2014 and open together at next year’s party.

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