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Welcoming the New Year: Ways to Celebrate at Home

Dec 31, 2013 07:22AM ● By Erin Frisch

New Year’s Eve and the beginning of a new year are certainly causes for celebration. Many people have traditional ways of saying farewell to the old and ringing in the new. Some attend lavish house parties where everyone dresses up. Others like to go out to celebrate, but that can get expensive with prices that start at $50 per person (which may not include food or drink). For those on a budget or with children, going out for the evening and hiring a sitter may not be realistic, and for everyone, our New England weather this time of year is always a consideration. Staying home may be the best option, and while it doesn’t fit everyone’s idea of a New Year’s celebration, spending the evening at home can be great fun for all. Check out a few ways to celebrate at home and have a great time with your family and friends.

Have a tasting. Pick a favorite beverage or food (wine, champagne, beer, or scotch for those who drink; chocolate, cheese, etc. for foodies; or a combination). Invite friends and family, and have each of them bring a sample of the item you’ll all be trying. Taste each variety of cheese, chocolate, wine, beer, etc., and discuss them as you go along. Make up little scorecards (you’ll find some printables on the Internet) to keep track of everyone’s opinion about each one.

Cook something special. Staying in with your family or a small group? Splurge a little (it’s still less expensive than going out), and choose a meal you would not normally cook because of the expense and/or effort. Many folks get out of work early on New Year’s Eve or take the day off, and that means extra time for prep work and cooking. For family members old enough to help out in the kitchen, delegate tasks and make it a family affair. Ask guests to contribute a bottle of wine that pairs well with the foods you’ll be serving.

Reflect on the past year. Gather everyone together over some delectable munchies a few hours before the clock strikes midnight, and chat about the year that’s on its way out. You might ask everyone to talk about his or her biggest accomplishment of 2013, a favorite place visited, the best thing that happened in the past year, the most challenging thing that happened, the funniest thing that happened, or three words describing the past year. Other topics could include unexpected joys or obstacles, and one new thing each celebrant would like to learn in the New Year.

Grab a crockpot or two and have a fondue party. You might do chocolate fondue in one and cheese in another. In addition, ask each guest to bring an item that represents his or her New Year’s resolution. Have each one write the resolution on a tag attached to the container the person brought an item in. For example, if someone’s resolution is to be healthier, they might bring strawberries or another fruit. If they want to be a better person (an angel, say), they might bring angel food cake. Fondue is fun to eat, and these ideas will get everyone talking.

Play board games and other party games. This one can be tailored to any age. If your family or friends are all adults, choose fun games that will keep everyone laughing, like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity. Charades also provides great entertainment. If you’ll have some younger guests, Apples to Apples is appropriate, but Twister, Clue, and Candy Land are fun choices too. Serve snacks and beverages that will keep everyone happy.

If you are celebrating with kids, make “countdown” goodie bags. Fill each one with an idea or craft to do for each hour. For example, one hour could be making a homemade noisemaker to ring in the New Year. Another could be making a party hat to wear later in the evening. You’ll find lots of great ideas for crafts on the Internet.

Celebrate midnight in another country. If you have younger children, it might be difficult to keep them up until midnight (or you may not want to). Ring in the New Year in a country where the clock strikes twelve while it is still early here in New England. Create a theme that matches your chosen country’s celebration. Research traditional New Year’s foods and beverages from that country as well as music. You can even use what you learn as a way to teach your kids about another culture. Then you and your partner will enjoy another opportunity to welcome the New Year with a celebration of your own after the little ones are asleep as you celebrate at midnight here.

How do you celebrate the New Year in the comfort of your own home? Share with us below in the comments!

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