By Becky Samford, DNJC Publisher & Kyrie Collins, Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock Publisher December 25, 2023

What are your plans for New Year's Eve? And will you celebrate with your little ones? Here are a few ideas for a New Year's Eve celebration at home with the family.

1. Decorate a New Year Tree. Remove and put away all the Christmas ornaments from your tree. Replace them with shiny silvery balls, mardi gras beads, tinsel, party poppers, noisemakers, and 2023 decorations from the party section of your local store.

2. Balloon Pop Countdown. Blow up six balloons and put a piece of paper with instructions inside each one. It can be something silly like "Do the Hokey Pokey" or "Eat four crackers and then try to whistle" to something meaningful like "Share a family hug" or "Share your favorite memory from last year." Pop one balloon six hours before you will celebrate the countdown (see the Celebrate Early section below), follow the instructions, and then set a timer to go off at the next hour.

3. Get Glitzy. New Year's Eve sparkles and shines. Deck out your house with things that glitter. Get the kids some fun, glitzy pajamas. Put revolving disco balls all around for moving lights and pass out beaded necklaces, party horns, confetti poppers, and hand clappers at the start of the night. Fill balloons with gold and silver confetti and pop them at midnight. Everyone will be in a festive mood when the clock strikes twelve. 

4. Dress up ... or dress silly. Take off those sweatpants you've been living in during holiday break and have everyone get dressed up in their favorite finery. Alternatively, dress as silly as you can! Put on a modeling show and have a photo shoot once everyone is ready. You can also stock up on things like crowns, silly mustaches, and feather boas for an at-home photo booth — where everyone can show off their look.

5. Make a prize ball. Wrap small gifts, like candy or small toys, in two or three rolls of cling wrap, then let kids take turns unwrapping the ball. Kids love this game because the anticipation builds and builds. How to do it: Wrap 2 or 3 prizes in the middle, wrap in a ball with a few layers of wrap, then add another prize, and wrap again. Keep adding more prizes until you have all your prizes wrapped! Have kids sit in a circle and give them a set time (like 15 seconds) to unwrap the ball before passing it to their neighbor. Or play games like Twister, Charades, or Pictionary. Let the kids team up against the adults for some extra laughs.

6. Year-End Interviews. What was your favorite memory from last year? What is your favorite food? Who is our best friend? What is the best thing about school/work? The worst thing? What do you look forward to next year? Ask each member of your family a few questions about themselves, the past year, and their hopes and dreams for the coming year, and record it all on video for posterity. Ask similar questions every New Year's Eve and see how everyone changes over time.

7. Make a Memory Jar.  It is sometimes hard to recall the things you did and the moments that mattered. Hold onto some memories of special moments, experiences, and laughs in the upcoming year by making a MEMORY JAR. If you made one last year, tonight is the night to read them all and remember.

8. Set New Year Plans. Talk about some things you want to accomplish in the New Year. These can be individual goals like trying a new sport or hobby (read our article: AGE APPROPRIATE GOALS FOR KIDS) or family plans, like exercising together or planning a vacation. Or create a FAMILY VISION BOARD together using pictures from magazines of places you want to visit, games you want to play, and activities you want to share.

9. Let the kids toast each other. Give kids cups of a special drink, like sparkling cider, and let them toast each other. Some will be silly, some will be sweet ... you'll definitely want your video camera rolling for this one!

10. Don't Wait for Midnight. One of the toughest challenges of New Year's Eve with children is keeping them up way past their bedtime. So, why not celebrate early? You can even theme the day to the city that you are celebrating. For example, you can serve Chinese food and celebrate the New Year in China at 11AM on Saturday in Atlanta or serve pizza at 6PM to celebrate the New Year in Italy!.  Whichever time zone you are celebrating, it will be just as exciting for your children as long as you ring in the New Year with style! Have that countdown early and the kids can go to bed happy ... and you can too!

No matter what you do to celebrate, your children will be so happy to spend New Year's Eve with you, it will be memorable and fun! You can even continue celebrating by watching the Rose Parade on New Year's Morning, or spend the day watching all the Bowl games!

Best wishes to you and yours for 2023. Make your coming year an extraordinary adventure!