New Year’s Eve is usually one of the biggest social events on the calendar – unless, you might think, you’re a parent.
After all, even if Omicron doesn’t scupper everyone’s plans this year, your chances of getting out are remote, given it’s pretty much impossible to find a babysitter on December 31 and there aren’t many major New Year’s Eve events you can drag the kids along to.
So, you may have resigned yourself to the fact that your wild New Year’s Eve partying days are over, and from now on, at least until the kids are much older, your end-of-year celebrations will amount to nothing more exciting than a cheeky glass of bubbly as you curl up on the sofa to watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny on the telly.
But instead of seeing the birth of your children as the death of great New Year’s Eves, maybe you should look at your parent status as a great excuse to celebrate the big night differently, with your kids, in a way that’s just as much – if not more – fun.
“New Year’s Eve with kids doesn’t have to be all mocktails and mourning for club nights and parties of the past,” insists Anne-Marie O’Leary, editorial director at the parenting website Netmums (netmums.com). “At Netmums, we’re big fans of ‘kids included’ parties with all the razzmatazz of a grown-ups bash – but with a shifted timescale.”
And Steph Desmond, co-founder of the parenting app Bloss (blossapp.com) asks: “Fear of missing out now you have kids? I’ve always wanted to bring in the New Year with family and friends, and kids kind of force you to think a little bit harder as to what to do, so everyone gets time to celebrate before bed. There are plenty of ways to make it a night to remember…”
There really are lots of ways to have fun on New Year’s Eve when you’ve got kids – and many advantages to foregoing the big boozy celebrations that you may not have thought of. Here are a few…
1. New Year’s Eve parties are often not as good as you were expecting anyway
Sorry I won't be able to make it to your New Year's Eve party. I'm waiting for my 7yo to finish tying his shoes so I'm busy 'til April.
— Babies Daddy (@dshack8) October 27, 2014
After the chaos of Christmas, many people look forward to a big, expensive, boozy New Year’s Eve do – to wave goodbye to the old year and welcome the new – but the huge expectation often doesn’t live up to what can be a bit of an anti-climax. “Let’s be honest, New Year’s Eve is always overrated,” declares Desmond. “Gone are the days where you’re heady with excitement, dressed to the nines and inevitably about to experience an expensive, lacklustre night out with a savage hangover to top it all off.”
2. You can start the New Year without a hangover
If you’re looking after the kids, while nobody can blame you for raising a glass to the New Year, chances are you won’t drink nearly as much as you would have done if you’d gone to an organised New Year’s bash. And that means you can start 2022 with a lovely, clear head – and you’ll be much less grumpy than you would have been if you were nursing a hangover.
3. You’ll save loads of money
Event tickets, triple-time rates for taxis and babysitters, and the cost of booze – a big night on New Year’s Eve is going to be an expensive one. If you spend it at home with the kids, even if you buy lots of family treats for the evening, you’ll still save loads of cash – that’s got to be a good way to start the New Year!
4. Enjoy a New Year’s Eve box together
If you’re staying in on New Year’s Eve, it doesn’t have to be boring, and Netmums suggests one way of giving the family something to look forward to is by creating a New Year’s Eve box, filled with loads of things the family likes.
O’Leary suggests: “Fill it with popcorn, treats, party hats, a movie suggestion and anything else you can think of for a night on the sofa. And pop in an egg-timer, so when it hits 11pm, you can set it to make sure you’re still awake at midnight!”
5. You can still have a New Year’s Eve disco – with the kids
Who needs to go to an actual club? If you stay at home and have your own disco, you get to choose your own music, entry is free and you can have a good laugh dancing with the kids. “Dress up fancy, have a kitchen disco with cool lights and confetti at 9pm, so the kids feel they’ve stayed up late, and do a countdown a bit earlier on,” advises Desmond.
O’Leary suggests balloon drops, sparkly outfits and lots to eat and drink, and adds: “Where you used to head out at 9pm ready to ring in the New Year at midnight, we suggest starting at 6pm and playing a recorded Big Ben chime at 9pm (YouTube has some great recordings for this). That way, kids get to feel like they stayed up, but everyone gets the sleep they need before a big, bracing walk on New Year’s Day.”