By Amanda Gebhardt
Every year I am amazed by how quickly midnight rolls around on New Year's Eve. There have been quite a few that we’ve missed because we were distracted by a conversation or a game with family and friends. It wasn’t always like that, though. I remember when I was growing up and it felt like the night stretched on forever. There were many years where even though my parents said I was old enough to stay up to watch the ball drop on TV, I still ended up sound asleep well before midnight.
The last three New Year’s Eves have been quiet evenings at home with friends as our young daughter slept her way into January. This year, while she’s still much too young to stay up until midnight, she’s not too young to be introduced to the fun and excitement of the New Year. They say that the people you start the New Year with will be the ones who stay with you throughout the next twelve months, so why not make sure this New Year’s Eve is one that helps bring your family together?
- Watch an earlier ball drop. Young children need their sleep no matter what day of the year it is. In order to keep disruption to a minimum but still let your child enjoy the spirit of the holiday, make time to watch an earlier countdown. Throughout December 31, people will be counting down to midnight in places around the world. Whether it’s airing on TV, or you find a live stream of it, you may be able to watch the ball drop as early as you want. For those on the east coast, Paris and London will hit midnight at about six or seven o’clock, respectively. For those on the west coast, you can tune in to the ball drop in Times Square at about eight o’clock.
- Keep snacks healthy. Serve fresh vegetables and fruit salad instead of potato chips and try out some healthy salsa or hummus recipes with baked tortilla chips.
- Serve sparkling water. A touch of bubbly makes New Year’s Eve special, but it doesn’t have to be a sugary drink like sparkling grape juice or sparkling apple juice. A small sip of club soda can provide the fizz without a sugary overload. For older kids, have some fun by finding recipes online for them to try mixing their own kid-friendly drinks for the night.
- Set family goals. Talk to your child about the upcoming year. Share things you are looking forward to and goals you want to accomplish. Encourage him or her to do the same. Use this time to reflect on the past year, any joys or sorrows your family went through, and make plans to start the next year off on a positive and productive note.
Whatever you do this New Year’s Eve, remember that the traditions you put in place with your children will be carried with them the rest of their lives. For me, it never feels like New Year’s Eve without nachos and board games. With so many options for healthy nachos, I’m so excited to begin passing these traditions on to my daughter this year!