Ringing in the New Year at Home


This faux countdown occurred at 9:00. Thank you, Netflix!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Eve. As a kid, I loved it! We could stay up until midnight at age 8? Fantastic! When I was in college and after, NYE became that night that I worried about. Would I have something to do? Would I have something to wear? Would I have someone to kiss? Because there was NEVER anything more depressing than sitting home (alone) on New Year’s Eve. This holiday quickly became the epitome of expectation vs. reality for me. Nearly all the New Year’s Eves in my twenties didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Fast forward 20 some-odd years, and New Year’s Eve has become a night to spend with a small group of people. I love ringing in the new year with family, close friends, and a toast, but no longer do I feel the need to string together complicated plans that involve a babysitter and Uber. Thank goodness I don’t even have to consider that this year.

So how can we make NYE fun when we are at home with the kids?

Here are some ideas for making the exodus of 2020 as festive as possible:

• Write down resolutions — make these kid friendly and easy to accomplish, like a bucket list for 2021. Perhaps a list of things to do when COVID has been conquered??

• Decide on the dress code — younger kids may love the chance to get tea-party fancy for the evening, wearing princess dresses and neckties. Or maybe everyone wants to stay in their cozy comfies. Whatever you decide, encourage everyone to dress accordingly.

• Plan ahead for a meal of family favorites or try some traditional NYE foods — black-eyed peas and ham (my mom made this every year). Fondue is always a fun dinner for a special night. Don’t forget to eat twelve grapes at midnight, which is said to bring you luck for each month of the new year. Add in some sparkling cider for the kids to toast with at midnight.

  • Make it look festive — let the kids hang streamers, blow up balloons, make a banner. We used to cut confetti to shower on our parents at midnight. Yep. We cut confetti from construction paper. Credit to my parents, it kept us busy for hours.
  • Look back on photos from the year — make a list of favorite moments, funniest photo, best pose, etc. Decide which photos you want to recreate in the new year.

• Play games — have the kids each pick a favorite or two to play throughout the night, or find a new one to make a family staple. Some of these Minute-to-Win-It games could keep your crew laughing for hours. You may need extra materials for these, so plan ahead.

Who doesn’t like to drink out of a fancy glass?

• Ring in the new year WHENEVER you want — if you have young kids, set the clocks ahead so it will turn midnight early. Blow party horns, throw that homemade confetti, clink glasses, and maybe FaceTime with loved ones you are usually with on NYE. Just make sure they know you’re pretending it’s actually midnight, so they don’t blow your cover.

However you ring in the new year, do it safely and love the ones you’re with.

Here’s to a peaceful, happy, and healthy new year!

Jen was born and raised in Overland Park. After going to Indiana University for college, then living in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, she grew exhausted of circling for a parking spot and headed back home to be near family. She and her husband Matt are parents to a 10 year-old boy and a 8 year-old girl. Jen teaches kindergarten and her husband teaches high school, so they wonder how they’ll relate to their kids during the middle school years. She spends her free time cheering on the Chiefs, Royals, and Hoosiers, hanging out with family, laughing with her teacher friends, and fostering a love/hate relationship with boxing. She also loves traveling, Target, coffee, wine, sunflowers and all things pop culture.