Looking to ring in 2014 with some fun for your family? Personally, I prefer to go to bed early and sleep in on New Year’s Day to recover from the Holiday season. My kids however, like the idea of celebrating the arrival of the new year. So, we will PARTY. Since I’m usually running on empty by New Years Eve, I’ve put together some fun but easy ideas for staying home and celebrating in your family room with the kids.
Keep it low-key.
You don’t need to go crazy cleaning the house, buying party favors, and cooking to have a fun New Year’s celebration. Keep the party ideas simple. Even if you just end up watching the countdown shows on TV with the kids, they’ll appreciate it.
Make it a party.
Definitely invite neighbors, family and friends with kids about the same age over to help celebrate. This keeps everyone off of the road, you can all watch the kids together, everyone can ooh and aah over your Christmas decorations one more time, and it saves on babysitter money. To keep it casual and easy, have everyone bring a dish to share. Start the party later so you don’t need to cook dinner, just have snacks and desserts. Invite the kids to come over in their pajamas so it’s casual, and parents won’t have to change their kids’ clothes if they fall asleep before going home. If that still seems daunting, remember, even if you only invite over one other family, it’s still a party and a chance to have some fun!
Time is all relative.
Even if you have small children, you can still ring in the new year together. Here’s a trick. If you have small children who might not make it to midnight, change the clocks in the house so that “midnight” hits around 9 or 10 p.m. The kids will feel like they got to stay up and celebrate and you will still be able to put them to bed at a decent time. Or have the kids at the party bring sleeping bags so they can go to sleep while the parents stay up and keep the party going.
Pop in the Fun
Kids love to make noise and New Year’s Eve is all about loud noise. Grab some inexpensive noise makers at your local Dollar Store or buy a roll of large bubble wrap. Give each kid a piece and let them “Pop it Up” at midnight while the adults pop open the champagne. Skip any confetti or streamers unless you want to spend the next day cleaning.
Another fun idea is to blow up balloons and “drop” them at midnight. Rig up a net in a corner of the basement or drop them over the balcony stairs. Kids will have fun popping the balloons and chasing them around.
Re-Decorate Your Christmas Tree
I loved this idea from a Mom who wrote in to Family Fun Magazine a few years ago. She had her children help her take the ornaments off the Christmas tree so that they could make a “New Year’s Tree.” They took all of the Christmas ornaments off of the tree but left the lights on. They then added curled ribbon, party horns, balloons — basically everything needed for a New Year’s Eve party for the children. What a fun and festive idea and you get a second use out of your Christmas tree! If you are planning on having people over to help celebrate New Year’s Eve, this is a perfect idea on how to decorate.
Since New Years Eve is all about time and counting down, why not create a new activity for the kids each hour? That way they stay amused, stay awake, and look forward to the next hour. The Red & Blonde Tangles blog had a wonderful idea for creating an activity bag for each hour. She printed a clock face and wrote the time on it, glued it to a brown paper bag, and when that time came around, the kids got to open the bag and either do the craft activity or eat the treat inside. Genius!
It’s easier to plan a party if you have a theme. Here are 3 easy themes and activities to keep the family occupied and laughing while you wait for midnight.
Get out those new board games you got for Christmas or Hanukkah, find your old favorites in the closet or fire up the Wii for a little family competition. Definitely grab prizes like big boxes of movie theater candy, large chocolate bars, or my favorite, win coupons to get out of household chores. Click here for more ideas on planning a Family Game Night.
Pajama Pizza Party
Why not have fun cooking together and sharing some laughs in the kitchen by making homemade pizza? If you have a great pizza recipe and a pizza stone, you are good to go. If not, here’s my family’s killer homemade pizza recipe. To make the evening more unique, have everyone wear their pajamas all night. Invite another family over and make it a kids/adult slumber party. Or set up a tent in the living room and the kids can watch the ball drop from inside the tent in their sleeping bags. Here are some more ideas on how to host a fun Pizza Party.
Fancy Schmancy New Years Eve Party
Half the fun of New Year’s Eve is getting dressed up. Who loves dress up more than kids? It’s also fun to dance, so why not combine these two into a Fancy Schmancy New Year’s Eve Party? Kids love watching their parents get dressed up for New Year’s Eve Parties, so let them share in the spotlight this year by dressing up in their fancy duds or their kooky dress-up clothes.
You don’t have to go to a club to hear the latest bands and dance on New Years. Pick a theme and host a kid’s prom at home. Turn the New Year’s countdowns on the TV and let the kids dance along to the featured bands. Or set up an area in the house as a dance floor and spin the tunes. Create a playlist of the top dance hits of the past year and groove those holiday feeding-frenzy calories away. Get your video camera out because the video of your kids dressed up and dancing will be worth it!
Whatever you decide to do, have a safe and wonderful New Years Eve with your family. We look forward to sharing more simple, creative and memorable Family Fun ideas with you in 2014, so we can all have more Chocolate Cake Moments.
For more Family or Kid-Friendly party ideas check out my New Years Eve Party board on Pinterest.
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Since Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are two of my favorite Holidays, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! Have fun with your families this weekend. (Psst! This was our costume at a Halloween party last weekend. I’ll put up a post next week on how easy it was to put this couples costume together.)
Want to learn more about Dia de los Muertos? It’s not scary and the sentiment behind the Holiday is something I think every family should celebrate. Here are some great books that explain the Dia de los Muertos Holiday to your kids. Then, here’s what you need to know to start a tradition of celebrating Dia de los Muertos with your family.
Two years ago, my daughter and I decided to make her Halloween costume since she didn’t like any of the costumes we saw in the stores. She’s very creative and she wanted to be something really unique. We saw an idea in Family Fun magazine for a Gingerbread Cookie and of course we felt the need to add our own flair to make it funnier and cuter than the one in the magazine. (You didn’t know crafting was a competitive sport, did you?)
We liked the idea of the cookie on the baking sheet but she didn’t want just her face sticking out. She wanted her whole body to be the cookie so that if she took off the cookie sheet part of the costume, she would still have a full cookie costume on. Even though I’m not that talented with a needle, we went for it.
We started by shopping for a brown outfit. We had to hit two different stores but we found a plain, long-sleeve brown shirt and brown sweatpants. We happened to have a brown knit hat and gloves at home which worked perfectly into our plans.
I couldn’t find anything three dimensional that would be easy to attach to the costume to serve as gum drop buttons so I chose large candy colored buttons instead. I purchased some wide rick rack ribbon to look like icing. I’m not great at sewing. I can sew on buttons and baste stitch but that is about it. So I sewed the rick rack ribbon on to each pants leg and shirt sleeve to look like icing. I sewed three large colorful buttons down the middle of the shirt to look like gum drop buttons. Voila, that was done!
I took a large cardboard box and flattened it out so that I had a large rectangle shape to work with. I used packing tape to tape the two long sides together so it would stay flat. Then I just started wrapping the box with aluminum foil and scotch tape until every part of the box was covered. I left about half an inch of aluminum foil over the side of the box so that I could wrap it around to cover the sides of the box so no cardboard was showing. Now for the slightly more difficult part. We needed to add straps so that she could slide her arms in to hold the cookie sheet on her back. We used twine as our arm straps. My husband measured out the length of the twine based on how much was needed for her to get her arms through but not leave too much gap so that the cookie sheet hung down too low on her back. Once we had the length, he measured where to drill two holes so that the cookie sheet stayed high enough over her head. We drilled the holes instead of using scissors or cutting a slit because we wanted a clean hole that wouldn’t wrinkle or tear the aluminum foil too much. We threaded the twine through the hole and tied a big knot in the back so it couldn’t pull through.
For the final touch, I took pink lipstick and made a round rosy mark on each cheek, for extra cuteness. When we walked around to trick or treat, I dressed up like Suzie Homemaker with my rolling pin to match her outfit.
Not only was it a cute, unique and easy costume to make, my daughter and I had fun creating it together. If that’s not a Chocolate Cake Moment (or a warm gingerbread cookie moment) I don’t know what is.
Are you making a costume this year? What is it?
We’ve got a long weekend coming up and I’m in the mood to party. Summer always seems to fly by so quick and I feel like we should do one last fun activity to usher Summer out and welcome Fall in! If you feel the same way, here are 5 easy party themes to help you have some fun with friends, family or neighbors this Labor Day weekend.
1. Beach Party – Didn’t get a chance to go to the beach this summer? No problem. Bring the beach to your backyard with this easy party idea.
2. Football Party - While this is more of a fall theme, college football starts this weekend. Invite some friends over for an impromptu kick-off to the season.
3. Neighborhood Firepit Party – Keep it super simple! Set up a firepit on your driveway and invite the neighbors to bring a dish, some drinks, and chairs for some family-friendly fun.
4. Back-to-School Themed Bash – Celebrate the fact that school is back in session. Mari over at Inspiredbyfamilymag.com created a super cute Back-to-School dessert social party. Grab all of her ideas on her site.
5. Pretzel and Beer (or Rootbeer) Party – This party is one of the cutest ideas I’ve seen for a party theme from Deanna and Deanna Moore Designs. It’s sure to be a big hit with both kids and adults.
Have fun this Labor Day weekend! If you aren’t going to throw a casual party, what are your plans for some fun?
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Every year, the night before school starts, my kids and I pick out their first day of school outfit so they can start the new school year off right. When they were little I got to pick the outfit and of course I made them look super cute (in my opinion). Once they hit second grade though, I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut on what I thought was the best outfit. They hated anything I recommended. “Really, Mom? A skirt!?!”
But for all of the work we put into buying and choosing the first day of school outfit, I soon came to realize that I didn’t put any time and thought into the PHOTO to capture the moment. I usually scrambled to try and get them to pose in front of the door as we were running out the door. Or, I tried to get all the kids to line up in front of the bus while the bus driver impatiently glared at me. Boring! As you can see in my example. So, this year I wanted to plan ahead and creatively capture the moment. I wish I had done some of these when they first started school, but it’s never too late. Here are some creative, unique photo ideas to remember your child on their first day of school.
1. Chalk isn’t just for chalkboards. I love this idea from Kim at TheCelebrationShoppe.com where she writes the grade on the driveway with chalk and then photographs her child from above standing next to it. Click over and see how easy and yet impactful this photo can be. She also has some wonderful Back-to-School printables on her site so definitely check out her site.
2. A Cookie of a Tradition. This idea combines a photo idea and a back-to-school tradition that I’m sure your kids will love. At HowDoesShe.com you’ll find a recipe for a giant chocolate chip cookie that a Mom made for her kids every year. She used frosting to write the grade and year on the cookie and it was a special treat for the kids when they got home from their first day of school. However, it’s also a great photo opportunity to show your child holding the cookie with their grade and date in the photo.
3. Hanging on to Kindergarten. As a fun way to show how much your child has grown, when you take their picture this year, have them hold a framed photo of their first day of kindergarten. It’s funny to see how cute and young they looked when they started kindergarten and how much they have grown since then. Or to show year-to-year growth, have them hold a framed photo of last year’s first day of school photo.
4. Giving Props to Good Photos. TheLittleStyleFile.com has some adorable photo ideas for capturing your kids on the first day of school. I really like KJaneDesign.com’s idea of using shiny, red apples piled up in front of your child. The number of apples equals the grade number.
5. Put a frame on it. I like the Back-to-School frame that Crissy’s Crafts created for her child. It’s easy, you can spend time crafting it with your child, and it’s a wonderful prop for your first day of school photo. A winner!
If you need first day of school printable photo props, Spoonful.com has rounded up 12 cute options. Best yet, they are free!
Finally, for a little humor, I found this photo on Pinterest and loved it. Definitely add a photo of Mom and Dad on the first day of school to your photo albums.
Do you take first day of school photos every year? Any other creative ideas you’d like to share? I’d love to see them!
Check out all of my Back-to-School Tips & Ideas to make this school season fun and easy, or check out my Back-to-School board on Pinterest.