A lot of people consider New Year’s to be an adult celebration, and, indeed, the late-night drop of the ball on Time’s Square and other revelry does make it appear to the focus. While many folks go out for the evening, some opt to stay home and do family activities, instead. It is possible to include children in new traditions that don’t involve partying, drinking or even going out of the home!
- Make a New Year’s Day dinner special for the entire family. Gather to celebrate the special new beginning and start a new tradition. Hold hands as each member of the family recalls something special that happened to them during the past year. Listen and respond, letting each member of the family know that they are recognized.
- Have each member of the family make a card for another, telling that person what they love or appreciate most about them. Share at dinner time.
- Start a new tradition at New Year’s with every member of the family being encouraged to put a note in a “Memory Jar” whenever something significant happens to them during the year. Decorate the jar (including the year) and display it, so you can see how it fills up. Remind and encourage children (and adults) to celebrate their successes this way. Then, on New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day, each person takes turn picking something from the jar to read and share until the jar is empty.
- Have everyone write down one thing they want to leave behind with the new year. It can be an argument, hurt feelings, resentment or anything that bothers them – they don’t have to share. Then make a pact to leave that behind as you burn the paper in the fireplace, on the barbecue or fire pit. This symbolic act will teach kids that it’s okay to let feelings go.
- If you are staying home with young children on New Year’s Eve, have a special celebration together. Even if not at midnight, have special treats like fondue, a cheese ball, tasty desserts or other treats to make the evening special. Watch a favorite movie together, or some of the New Year’s eve celebrations around the world that are broadcast on TV. Wear jammies, robes and slippers and welcome the New Year together. My kids used to love doing this every year, even when they were young teens.
- Don’t make Resolutions. Most are lost within the first couple of weeks and all this does is teach kids that promises aren’t kept. Instead, talk about a healthier or more positive lifestyle. Ask kids what they would like to do the next year – new things to try, new activities or games to experience. Take a class together, whether it’s sports related, origami, cooking or candle making. This can be one of the most enjoyable things you remember long afterward. Get a kit at a craft store and try something new at home with the kids.
- Buy disposable or inexpensive cameras for each member of the family and make getting out and about in all weather more enjoyable. Share photos and make an album, either online or in a scrapbook, to commemorate these special times. Make one day during the first week of the year your first exploration day and try to keep this up at least once per week. This could lead to more time spent together and give a life-long love of photography to a family member.
- Count your blessing – literally. Make an advent chain, with each strip of paper holding one thing that you are thankful for. This can be done by all members of the family. Concentrate on the positive not the negative. Keep it going and see how long it can get! Make sure everyone contributes at least one chain and read it before it’s put on. This may sound hokey, but when things are tough, counting your blessings can really be a good exercise.