When it comes to planning kid parties, I use the same common sense rules I use with parenting:
- Keep it fun
- Keep them busy
- Keep them fed
- Get them to bed
There's nothing worse than a bored, over-tired kid that's high on sugar at the end of the night. So we've got a few ideas for a kid-friendly New Year's Eve.
A Time To Celebrate The Year
For adults, New Years is about looking back and remembering some of the big moments from the year. It should be no different for kids. It's important to have them reflect and celebrate their accomplishments or big moments.
Have kids send two or three pictures in advance of the party. Matt them on card stock or mini canvas boards with Modge Podge and for a little sparkle, sprinkle a little glitter around the edges. These photos can serve as decorations for your tablescape and are a great conversation piece, encouraging kids to share their big moments from 2016.
Poppers are always a tradition at New Years, so why not create your own, with fun questions inside. Simply write out some fun questions on note cards or paper, place one question inside leftover toilet paper rolls, wrap them with tissue and tie each end. Place on your table and throughout the night, encourage kids to open the poppers and share their answer. Questions could include:
- Biggest laugh?
- Favorite movie?
- Best song?
- New friend?
Pacing Their Intake
Since New Year’s is typically not a time for a formal, sit-down meal, managing your kid buffet is important. As a rule, try to always have nutritious snacks out at all times such as veggies and dip, chips and black bean dip, cheese and crackers, and milk. Then try to introduce a few, more substantial food items (did someone say protein?) throughout the night to keep it fun and interesting. Keep the sugary snacks out for a limited period of time and try to manage it. The late-night sugar high is not something you want to deal with.
But you can make the healthy snacks fun and festive. For example, to encourage kids to drink milk, make sparkling milk "shooters." Simply take plastic cups, dip the edges slightly in honey or marshmallow fluff, then dip the rim in sprinkles. Then fill up with milk and add a fun straw. Yes, they get a little sweet, but they get their milk too.
Try to make healthy snacks portable, disposable but not messy. You can find cute mini cartons at most craft stores. Decorate the cartons, then place a small plastic cup with dressing inside, along with veggie sticks. Kids can grab and go, without make a mess.
The Countdown (before Midnight)
Most likely, you won't want your kids staying up until midnight. But you can still do the countdown and incorporate some fun and new foods while doing it.
One way is to countdown the New Year before midnight is to create Countdown Bags. These bags have fun facts about New Year's Eve traditions in another countries, as well as cultural items or foods. For example, celebrate with Spain!
Wearing the color red on New Year's Eve is supposed to be good luck in Spain. Cut out small scarves from red felt or fleece for the kids to wear. It is also good luck to eat 12 grapes on New Year’s, one grape for each month. Make grape kabobs and add a fun dipping sauce with yogurt and whipped cream.
Introduce a Spanish-inspired, but kid-friendly dish such as chorizo meatballs with spicy tomato and goat cheese dipping sauce. See recipe below.
You can pick any country. But the kids can do the countdown just the same.
Must Have Bubbles
Of course, New Years is not complete without a bubbly toast. Since the kids can't have champagne and soda is loaded with sugar, why not make your own bubbles bar with flavored syrups and sparkling water.
Decorate plastic champagne glasses with kids’ names and fun designs. In advance, make a few flavored simple syrups, such as lime, grapefruit or cherry.
Set up a "bar" for the kids to add their own simple syrup splash to sparkling water. It's a great way to give them a bubbly toast, but control the sugar.
Kids these days work so hard and face so many pressures. It's so important to take the time to help them celebrate their accomplishments, reflect on the good times and have fun.
We hope these ideas inspire you to do something special for your kids this year.
Happy New Year to all of you!
Spanish Chorizo Meatballs with Goat Cheese and Tomato Dipping Sauce
1/4 C chopped spinach
1 T chopped, fresh oregano
1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
6 oz. chorizo, casing removed
8 oz. ground beef
8 oz. ground pork
1/2 C Italian bread crumbs
1/4 C grated Parmesan
1 egg, slightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 Olive Oil
Mix all ingredients together (with clean hands) in a bowl. Do not overwork the meat. Then roll out meatballs (approximately one inch in diameter each). Be sure meatballs are uniform in size to ensure even cooking.
Heat Olive Oil in large skillet on medium high heat. Place meatballs in pan but not over crowding. Turn heat down to medium and cook until browned on one side. Turn all meatballs until browned on the other side and cooked through (approximately four minutes on each side). Transfer to plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.
Goat Cheese and Tomato Dipping Sauce
2 T. Olive Oil
2 T. diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch of crushed red pepper
1 t. dried oregano
1 8 oz. can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
A pinch of sugar
1 8 oz. can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes
4 oz. goat cheese
Heat Olive Oil in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and simmer for up to two minutes, until onion is translucent. Add oregano and stir for one minute. Next add tomatoes, salt, pepper and pinch of sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium/low heat.
Turn off heat. Stir in the goat cheese and until fully incorporated. For creamier texture, puree with immersion blender or in blender.
Sever meatballs warm with dipping sauce on the side.