Little did I know that three years ago would be my last single, pregnant-free, child-free New Year’s Eve celebration. Boy am I glad that I got all the fun out in my younger years! Since that time, I got married and pregnant quickly thereafter, so the past two New Year’s Eve celebrations were spent quite differently.
Some of us lucky few are actually able to get babysitters so that we can go out and celebrate like we did before the responsibility of parenting came along. I have not been fortunate enough to have that happen, not to mention that the very thought of coming home late and spending the next day with the “Irish Flu” (or anything less than normal feeling) around children sounds a lot more miserable than finding something more child-friendly to do. To be honest, the last two New Year’s Eve we had a nice dinner out and I was asleep before the ball dropped and I’m totally okay with that. If you are one of those parents, then you should be okay with that too. Parenting is exhausting and guess what…the ball still drops. Plus, when you wake up (feeling more refreshed than most, hopefully) it will still be a new year, which sadly brings with it a reminder of another year older.
This year, however, I hope and plan on being a little different. My daughter will be two and a half, and although I will be eight months pregnant, I still want to enjoy the many things Charleston, our beautiful city, has to offer for families, or have my own party at home with friends and family. Here are some fun ideas that families can do together as well as a few local events if you want to get out and about!
Family-friendly New Year’s Eve ideas
The first, and possibly best idea, would be to have a party at your house, whether it be a pot-luck or a sit-down dinner, with your friends and family members who also have children. You can have tables set up with New Year’s Eve crafts for the little ones. Think party hats, noisemakers, and other sparkly toys all around so the kids will likely be 100% into the evening while you socialize with friends and family! For this party, you can get a photo booth and have fun photo time and fireworks that will be set off at a certain time (more for kids to look forward to!)
For food and beverages, stick to fun appetizers and have guests each bring a dish if you prefer. Give the kids some of their own “champagne” aka sparkling cider in plastic champagne glasses (they can even add some fruit to make it extra special). If you don’t like hosting parties, talk with neighbors and friends who have children and see if someone else wants to host the event and you can help with food, decorations, etc! Getting others involved will get them excited about New Year’s Eve as well.
If you are looking for a low-key night with just family and the kiddos, then you can still do exciting games, but make it more personal. You and your spouse (and/or family members) can write down the best things from the year and keep it for memories. Everyone can write down their New Year’s resolutions and put them in a bowl to share with everyone (this will help to keep you on track for that resolution). And just because you are having a low-key night doesn’t mean that you can’t dress up and get fancy. Everyone loves a little sparkle in some way, especially the kids!
Local New Year’s Eve events
If you want to go out on New Year’s Eve, Marion Square (in downtown Charleston) has an event for families from 4-10:30 pm. James Island County Park will also be having a celebration with fireworks (both are weather permitting of course). I’m sure Summerville and other surrounding towns will have similar events as well, be sure to check in the local paper and on Charlestoncitypaper.com to see times and event details. You can also opt for a nice early dinner out with the family! We love to go to Wild Olive (usually early, around 5 or 6) so that we can take our time before we come home to celebrate more. Many restaurants have dinner specials you can take advantage of and it’s fun to get the family all dressed up for a nice dinner (with pictures of course).
This is totally up to you as parents, but I like to keep bed time in mind with the little ones. If they are super sleepy or you just want them to go to bed, then why not make up your own ball drop time a little earlier in the night! Kids usually won’t know the difference and they love to be included in a “countdown” of some kind. This way they can have their celebration and toast and then go to bed, while you and your significant other have a little alone time kid-free!
Just thinking about and writing this article makes me super excited for New Year’s Eve this year! For me, the New, New Year’s Eve is more fun than the times I spent countless hours getting ready, trying to find a cab, and then paying a ton of money just for one evening. Embrace the fun you can have with your children in tow and be creative! Have a safe and happy New Years!