Happy (Early) New Year!

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To some, New Year's Eve means late night ramblings, cries for more drinks all night, and the possibility of someone losing their dinner all down their new holiday outfit. When you have babies and toddlers in your household, these late night ramblings are by footy-pajama-clad tiny ones as they tip toe into your bedroom. Cries for more drinks involve a bottle, breast, or the never ending one-more-cup-of-water-before-bed-Mom plea. And if any dinner is spewed, you just hope that you have enough holiday bibs and burp cloths to make it through the night.

With a 10 year old and 8 year old in our household nowadays, thankfully, these spittle-filled days are behind us. Don't get me wrong -- New Years isn't what it used to be, but it is a bit more festive than the bleary-eyed days of early parenthood. For several years, when the kids were very young, though, we didn't want to let the holiday pass us by without recognition, so we took some actions to make it a fun evening for all.

First off, we called some friends who were in the same mind set that we were (i.e. they had kids about the same age). We figured that if we were looking for toddler-friendly things to do at New Years, others were in the same boat! We invited them over for an early New Years celebration. And by early, I mean like 4-8pm. This way, the kids were staying up a bit past their usual bed time, so they felt it was a special night, but everyone was still home before too many crankies set in and early enough so the next day wouldn't be a complete loss.

Before everyone came, we set a few clocks around the house forward by 5 hours so that we could plan a mock countdown for 7pm. We had appetizers, pizza, and sparkling apple juice for the little ones (though, honestly, many of them didn't like the bubbles). The basement was festooned with streamers and balloons covered the ground. We played dance music and the kids went crazy with their friends. We taped several poster boards together vertically, then wrote the numbers 10-1 counting down the board. The kids helped decorate it with markers, then we hung it on the basement wall.

Throughout the night, we'd call out how many hours until "midnight," and the kids would go wild. Just before midnight (in reality, just before 7pm), we pulled out a yard stick with a balloon taped on top that we used as the countdown ball. We passed out hats and noise makers, and began the countdown by edging the balloon on a stick down the numbers. (Honestly, at the age the kids were, they could barely count up, let alone count down, so it was pretty amusing!) As the balloon got to the bottom, someone cued up "Auld Lang Syne" on their phone, and  we all clapped and cheered. Happy New Year! (well, kind of!)