New Year's Eve with Kids: How Do You Make It Memorable?

Now that we have kids, those days of jetting off to Vegas with pals, partying until 5:00 a.m. or, heck, even staying up much past midnight to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve are long behind us. Even if we could find a babysitter for the festive holiday, who has the energy -- or time -- for a post-celebration hangover?

Even though New Year's Eve is really a "grown-up" night, it can still be fun for the whole family. We asked moms across the nation for advice on how they make the evening special when little ones are involved -- and we've come up with a few ideas of our own. So get that sparkling cider (and champagne for you and Dad, natch) on ice and try one of these fun ways to celebrate. It's party time!

"When I was little, my parents used to let my sister and me run down the street banging pots and pans on New Year's Eve. It was kind of crazy, but so fun, and now we let our kids do the same thing. Sorry, neighbors!" -- Danielle

"We alternate spending Christmas with my parents and my in-laws, so for the last few years, we've celebrated a late Christmas with the other family on New Year's Eve. We go sledding, cook a big meal, open gifts and give the kids sparkling cider at dinner, since they can't quite make it to midnight -- although they give it their best shot." -- Kathleen

"I let them have junk food like chips and soda, and we listen to music and just act goofy, playing games on the Wii and dancing around -- just like it's a huge slumber party." -- Tonya

"We have a Just Dance marathon on the Wii. It gets everyone active and we get to make fun of each other's skills and laugh. Plus, all kids from age 5 to 69 get to play!" -- Amanda

"We always let them invite one friend over for a sleepover, serve some sparkling cider and let them beat pans together at midnight -- and eat a bunch of junk food, of course!" -- Lori Ann

"We used to drive to a bank parking lot to watch the time turn to midnight, then we'd turn up the car radio and dance around banging pots and pans, kissing and singing. It's like having your own little Times Square -- such a blast!" -- Lainey

"We let our daughter have friends over. She's 14 now, so it's co-ed. The girls can spend the night and the boys leave by 12:30. They play music, watch movies and we set up a table with pizza and snacks. At midnight, we let them have sparkling cider and noise makers. This year, she'll have an Xbox, so I'm sure there will be games played." -- Linda

"When my kids were younger our evenings were full of charades and Yahtzee. We set the clocks ahead so they thought it was midnight at 10:00 p.m.!" -- Joan

"We rent hotel rooms with another family. We swim, play board games and snack on junk food all night." -- Amanda

Need more New Year's Eve inspiration? Check out these fun ideas:

Get your bling on.
Every New Year's celebration needs some sparkle. While you and your hubby are busy writing out your resolutions for 2013, get the kids started on a craft project, making gem-studded hats for the family. Cut cardstock to form a triangle with a curved bottom edge and bend it for a cone-shaped hat. Glue or staple it at the seam and then go crazy embellishing it with stick-on jewels and glittery stickers.

Countdown balloon drop. The kids (and, congratulations, you!) have managed to stay up to midnight. Celebrate with a balloon drop in your living room! Get a large net at a landscape supply store -- or even just an extra-large trash bag -- and fill it with balloons, hang it from the ceiling and when you count down to one, let it rip! Go ahead and toss some confetti, too. The kids won't even complain about vacuuming it up the next morning.

Bake up "2013" cookies. Use number-shaped cookie cutters to spell out the coming year. Set out colored icings, sprinkles, candies and other decorations and let the kids go wild. Midnight snack? Check.

Eat for prosperity. It's a no-brainer to go the pizza route -- but consider adding a special dish to your holiday feast. Around the globe, people share the hope of prosperity for the coming year, and, to welcome good fortune, it's customary in many countries to eat symbolic foods. In the South, for example, black-eyed peas represent coins for wealth, cornbread stands for gold and pork is served for positive motion. Try cornbread biscuit sandwiches with ham and apricot jelly served with black-eyed peas. Even the pickiest eaters might be willing to try a taste if it means good luck in the coming year.



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