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 Singing with Sylvia for Christmas

A Kid-Friendly New Year's Eve

A Kid-Friendly New Year's Eve
I love New Year's Eve. There is something about reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to a new year of possibilities that makes me downright giddy.

Since becoming a parent, my New Year's Eve celebrations have felt a little lacking. I have either spent this annual milestone managing sleepy children who couldn't stay up for the big mystery event everyone was talking about, or I have left them behind with a sitter as I go out and celebrate without them. 

Don't get me wrong:  a night out on the town with only my husband is always welcome! However, in the reflecting and celebrating on New Year's Eve I always find myself getting a little sappy and wishing I could celebrate that special space in time with the two amazing people who are the central-most characters in my life these days. . . my kids.

I was determined this year to plan a New Year's Eve bash that would be fun for both adults and children. I wanted to give my kids a taste of some of the New Year's Eve traditions I had only enjoyed without them up to this point.

We invited four other families over for a "suppetizer" party. I figured a supper of appetizers might be more reasonable than a sit-down meal for 10 adults and 11 children between the ages of 2 and 8. 

My friends, my husband and I threw together a potluck feast with mostly finger-foods: Japanese chicken wings, venison sliders, hummus, spinach and artichoke dip and crackers, a curry lentil dip with scoops, a charcuterie platter and veggie tray. At the dessert station, we had milk chocolate and white chocolate fondue with fruit and Rice Krispies balls for dipping. 

I also made these Cherry Cheesecake Shooters from my fave Food Network cook and fellow Oklahoman Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. {FYI: this is an Amazon affiliate link in case you want your own copy of her holiday cookbook.} I put a child-friendly version in little disposable champagne glasses and the Jack Daniels laced cherries out of children's reach in real wine glasses. These were a hit, and oh so easy to make! {My son helped me make these by smashing the graham crackers into crumbs with his hockey puck.}

A friend brought delicious pomegranate winter sangria in lovely labeled jugs, with and without brandy. All the food and beverages were so tasty and kid-approved.

I asked our guests to arrive at 5:30 p.m. I let them know as they arrived that every hour leading up to midnight, we would be having a 10-second countdown toward a special surprise treat. {I had set up hourly alarms on my tablet. At about five minutes before each hour, I rallied the group together and let them in on what the surprise was going to be and then we would do our 10-second countdown just before the hour.

At 6 p.m., the kids and adults were asked to choose from a variety of party hats and shiny beads that they could wear for the evening and take home with them. We counted down and yelled, "Happy New Year!" Now that we all were feeling a bit more festive, we started in on the delicious food, on which we all grazed for the rest of the evening.

Just before 7 p.m., I handed out celebration crackers
filled with little trinkets, a joke and another party hat. I explained how to open them to make a "pop," and how if we opened them at the same time, it would sound like the firecrackers that often happen at midnight on New Year's Eve. After the pop, we had fun seeing what everyone got and reading a few jokes. Then the kids were off again, upstairs, downstairs, being kids. I was pleased with the amount of adult time we were getting in the meantime!

About seven minutes before 8 p.m., I asked everyone to join me in our unfinished basement for our next surprise. This was the hour I thought most families might be heading home, so I planned this to be the biggest surprise of the evening.

{A little background: recently @smashpinatas started following @saskmomdotcom on Instagram. I had never heard of this business before, so I clicked on the profile and discovered this new local mom-made business that handcrafts custom piñatas, piggy banks and props.}

I contacted Smash Piñatas on Saturday, and my lovely custom-made piñata and matching smash-stick was ready for my party on Tuesday! Didn't it turn out great? Our little guests thought so, too. 

A photo posted by Smash Pinatas (@smashpinatas) on
I filled our piñata with scores from Dollarama: glow wands and swords, fun pencil erasers, bouncy balls, fruit and yogurt snack packs, Rocket suckers, and chocolate loonies in gold foil. 

"10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1....Happy New Year!" As the clock hit 8, our newly two-year-old daughter took the first swing and connected! The rest of the kids loved taking turns at bat over and again until the ultimate smash. Then they loved filling sacks with their finds even more!

I was pleasantly surprised to see all parents and kids still going strong as 9 p.m. neared.  I knew this would likely be the activity to expel all remaining energies. I was right. You see, 9 p.m. was the noisemaker surprise. And did we make noise! I had assembled horns, clappers, kazoos, maracas. I even rolled out the bubble wrap to stomp. Of course, with children between the ages of 2 and 8, this kind of activity can go on and on and on. . . Eventually I could see all parental eyes searching out for their respective spouses, making the nod, and slowly initiating the collection of property. 

As 10 p.m. rolled around, the last remaining family joined us in the living room for a much quieter toast. I explained to the kids that often times people like to drink bubbly drinks for New Year's Eve. I brought out a bottle of champagne and a corked bottle of sparkling juice. At the end of this countdown, both bottles were uncorked with a "pop," and the remaining four adults and four children toasted to our friendship and the exciting year ahead. {This particular friend is expecting her third child in 2015, so it was wonderful to have a moment to acknowledge this new life that we will enjoy meeting in the year ahead.} 

I thought it was so cute when their daughter asked when we were going to serve the "toast" surprise. I think she must have been expecting peanut butter and jelly. 

After they said their goodbyes, we quickly rushed our fading children upstairs, brushed teeth and got them in bed. I did my own silent countdown to 11 p.m. with my beautiful rainbow daughter in my arms, rocking her, kissing her warm cheek and thanking God for the enormous blessing that she and her brother are to me. I prayed for their health and happiness in the new year and asked for continued strength and guidance as I make daily decisions and actions that impact their futures every day. The moment seemed so precious and my heart overflowed out of my eyes. {Told you I get sappy.} 

We came downstairs, turned on the New Year's countdown show and started the cleaning up process. At midnight, my husband and I were still standing. We were exhausted, but we still got to experience the real countdown to 2015 together with a little smooch or two.

We flopped on the couch, I found my favourite rendition of Auld Lang Syne on YouTube and we spent a little time chatting about the party, the year we have had and a few goals we have for the next year.

It felt like the perfect ending to a wonderful New Year's Eve with our children, a few old friends, a few new friends and each other. THIS is the New Year's Eve tradition I would love to continue as long as we are blessed with little ones in our home.

{After surveying the remnants of the battered piñata in our basement and cleaning pomegranate juice and green glow-in-the-dark gunk out of our new carpet, my husband may need some more convincing. But, I have a whole year ahead to do just that!}

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