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Last year, with the pandemic raging (as it still is a year later 😩) and me six months pregnant, it was clear we would not be going out for New Year’s Eve. Let’s be real — since having kids, the vast majority of our NYE festivities have taken place at home anyway. And we’ve had fun! Not the kind of dance-and-drink-with-friends-and-tons-of-strangers fun I had in my 20s, but a kind of fun that’s more suited to this season of life, i.e. the pure jubilation of the boys counting down to “midnight” when it’s 8:59 p.m.
But apart from the countdowns and some dancing, I still hadn’t found a really good tradition to continue from year to year. I texted some mom friends last year to gather ideas and my friend Angela offered the brilliant idea of turning the Christmas tree into a New Year’s tree. Here’s what it involved for us:
- Take a trip to Dollar Tree to buy some Mardi Gras style bead necklaces, photo booth props, pre-cut brightly colored tagboard shapes, and an oversized party hat. Those are all for the tree. While you’re there, also pick up some noisemakers and crazy hats and glasses as NYE attire.
- Remove everything from your tree except the lights. And maybe keep those sparkly garlands of tinsel if you have them. Bonus — my kids were actually excited to help with the depressing task of taking down the ornaments last year because it was for the purpose of making the New Year’s tree. (Yes, it will still be a bummer when those decorations also have to come down, but somehow doing it in little phases seems less depressing.)
- Decorate the tree with the beads and with a mouth, bow tie, glasses, etc. from the stash of photo booth props. Place the giant party hat on top.
- Get your little tagboard shapes. Punch a hole at the top of each one and tie a piece of yarn or string through it. Give four or five shapes to each family member and have each person write down their wishes for the New Year. You will laugh and be touched by what your kids come up with. My favorites from last year were Nate’s wish “that Evan would dance with me whenever I want” and Evan’s wish to “lose more teeth.” Hang the wishes on the tree as ornaments.
And voila! That’s it for the tree. Besides providing both fun and meaning, this tradition doesn’t involve creating a ton of trash, which I love. I made the Dollar Tree run last year, then tucked everything away to use again this year. Some items will obviously not weather the celebration storm, especially given their dollar store quality, but it still feels so much better than throwing away dozens of popped balloons or the like.
For our celebration, we’ll also have a dance party and order pizza. Oh, and one more thing–borrowing an idea from another friend’s solstice celebration, we’ll all write down things we want to leave behind in 2021, then throw the pieces of paper into the fire. (I didn’t manage to get a fire going on Christmas Day, but at 5 pm tomorrow it’s supposed to feel like -4 degrees here in Minneapolis; that calls for a fire.) If you don’t have a fireplace, my friend said she has her kids write the things they want to let go of on a strip of paper that they dip into the flame of a taper candle and then drop onto a plate.
Happy New Year however you and your family celebrate!