Just because you have kids doesn't mean you can't ring in the New Year with style and fun. While the post-children parties may be different from the pre-children parties of years past, getting together with friends and celebrating the end of one year and the start of the next can still be loads of fun.
When planning a kid-friendly New Year's Eve party, keep these tips in mind.
1. Get the kids involved.
Have the kids get in on the planning and preparation. Making invitations and decorations, helping to prepare simple foods, selecting paper goods and music and helping to plan activities for the kids to do during the party are all ways the kids can get involved. When the kids feel like the party is theirs too, they are vested in making it a success, which includes being a good host with appropriate behavior.
2. Set the stage.
Kids tend to be most fussy in the evening. They are often tired from the day's events and will be expecting their typical bedtime routine to kick in, just as your party kicks into high gear. Childproof your home as much as possible, block off areas you don't want occupied and remove anything you don't want broken. Put out things that the kids can play with and have an area where it's safe for them to hang out. When you do you'll avoid having to constantly tell them something or somewhere is off limits, which can throw an overtired child into a frenzy.
3. Have things to do.
Plan a few activities, like making a New Year's ball from a Styrofoam ball, glue and pompoms or sequins (or push pins and beads for older children), making New Year's hats, watching a movie, playing games or decorating cookies. Having a few planned activities can prevent party chaos.
4. Serve popular kids foods.
In addition to the adult spread, be sure to have macaroni and cheese, fruit salad and other foods you know the kids will eat. Hungry kids can quickly become fussy kids.
5. End with your own ball drop.
Even if you tell your kids they can stay up until the ball drops, they likely won't make it. When you sense the kids are going to crash, gather them together and have your own ball drop. Have them count down as you lower a ball from high above your head to the ground. If you will be serving alcohol, consider having a sleep-over party. Arrange for parents to bring sleeping bags for the kids and have a campout in a spare room after the clock strikes 12:01, kids time.