Celebrating the New Year… at 8pm

12oclockI haven’t intentionally seen the other side of midnight since Justin Bieber went through puberty, alright, friends? I’m what you might call “a sleeper”. I need a lot of sleep to be a functioning contributor of society. I shouldn’t operate heavy machinery without a solid 8. And, I live in a van down by the river.

Okay, not that last part.

My Matt Foley moment  aside, I do love/need sleep and so the very idea of staying up, albeit for a holiday (which, I might add here, seems to be a liberal use of that word), until midnight seems ridiculous. New Year’s Eve has, since late high school, been the equivalent of  There Will Be Blood for little ole me. You know, that “movie of the year” several years ago that the critics said I just couldn’t miss? It was promised to blow my mind with its wonder and that I should anticipate it with fervor. Cut to post movie and a confused and tired Maggie exiting the theatre wondering why I wasted my $84 (or whatever movies cost these days) and several squirts of my best perfume on such an overrated night.

So it has been with NYE… Every year, Christmas presents neatly packed away and black-eyed peas soaking, I’d find my only best sparkly outfit, add an extra layer of lipstick, and head out for what is promised to be the Best Night of the Year, only to arrive home, heels in hand, wondering if it was just me who “just didn’t get it”… {And also where do people in Times Square go to the bathroom?  You never see portable bathrooms in the footage. But I digress…}

Ironically, NYE was an absolute favorite night of the year for me as a child. Our best family friends lived about 45 minutes away and every year we would trade-off going to each others houses for the night/weekend. We would always go eat at one of those Asian cook-in-front-of-you restaurants and then either see a movie or go home and play games. All of us kids would laugh and play and toast with sparkling cider and think that we were so cool. Obviously.

The first NYE I spent away from this tradition was when I was a junior in high school and felt certain that being with my parents for this festive night was on par with… well, doing anything in public with my parents.  I went with girlfriends to a house party, but, low-and-behold, around 11pm the host’s aunt came to check on him and kicked almost everyone out. I spent that golden Stroke of Midnight driving past a field in rural Oklahoma. It dawned on me then, as I looked out at what we later coined “The New Year’s Field”,  that perhaps, just perhaps, those Family Tradition nights of silly string, hot tub hangouts in the snow, and chefs in ridiculous hats wasn’t so bad after all.

I’m in the Young Kids stage of life, and thus sleep is quite nearly a best friend. I’m sure there will be a day when I want to spend money on a glittery outfit and call a sitter and not worry about a 2-year-old that is ready to play at 7 am, but until then, I’m going to create a festive evening to Ring in the New Year, even if there’s not a clock in this hemisphere even close to 12 am.

The key to any successful stay-at-home celebration is to PLAN AHEAD. Easier said than done I know, mama, but start brainstorming now something that you might set up for your kids that will make this night a little special. I’m not breaking any new ground here, ladies, but here are a few ideas to get your Celebrating-at-Home-at-8PM-and-Loving-It creative juices flowing…

  • Make your very own NYE Olympics. Find several age-appropriate (indoor) games and rotate through stations. Think 3-legged race; bouncing a ping-pong ball into a cup; empty can bowling; wall ball; push-up contest; karaoke (contest like “sounds the most like the original singer” or “best performance”); interpretive dance (this could be dang funny); or chubby bunny. Don’t buy prizes or medals, the kids can win prizes like “stay up 10 minutes late”, or “extra snuggles with Daddy”…
  • Bake! I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love to pour in the ingredients and subsequently decorate something that will ultimately leave mom wanting to burn her kitchen rather than face the globular mounds of drying sugar paste. But it’s all about the smiles on the kids’ faces, right?! Joking aside, giving the kids a decorating challenge can be fun (and eat up, pun intended, a lot of time). Depending on how many kids/friends are there, have a contest to see who can have “the best cookie”, “the silliest cookie”, “the most creative cookie, (etc. etc.)… Use cookie cutters to spell out NYE 14, or just cut out circles and make them look like firecrackers.
  • Buy sparkly or iridescent tissue paper and cut it up to create confetti (I don’t care how early it is, nothing shouts celebratory like shiny paper being thrown in the air by sticky little hands). Oh, and then give a prize to the kid who cleans it up the fastest.
  • Make a Resolutions Poster… Nothing says Welcome to a New Year like promises we make to ourselves. Perhaps we’ll have better luck placing these goals on our offspring. Find that  little something (or two… or three…) that your child can “work on” this next year. A visual reminder of (and perhaps reward for) the said “new good habit”. Let them decorate the poster and hang it in an oft-seen spot. Or, for older kids, have them make a Top 3 (or 5 or 10, depending on what level of With-It-ness you are) Goals for 2014 and create a realistic plan of how to achieve these. Try to find non-consumeristic ways to reward these, if you’re really feeling feisty…
  • Firecrackers. Independence Day does not have the corner on this, friends. Sparklers + Toddlers = Total Engrossed Awe (and a Nervous Mommy, so put a cup over their hands to poke a hole for the sparkler).

See, aren’t you glad you saved yourself the blisters and champagne headache?! Yeah, me too.

Happy 2014, Friends!

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Although not a native Texan, Maggie has enjoyed getting to know the city of San Antonio with her husband, a native to San Antonio. If she were a bumper sticker type of person (which she vehemently is not) she might have one of those “I didn’t grow up in Texas, but I got here as soon a I could” stickers. Maggie enjoys staying home with her children and loves the daily calamity that is raising her son (born 2011) and daughter (born 2009) in Boerne. She would always chose outdoor activities over indoor, sweatpants over dresses, crafting over TV, and cupcakes over… anything. It feels like her life has been full of “learning experiences”, and Maggie loves to share about having a micro-preemie in the NICU, her experiences as an adoptee and a heart patient, and about her family’s experiences with adopting a child on her blog Mondays with Maggie. Life is an adventure and she’s thankful to have the perfect amount of OCD and ADHD to keep up (most days).