Last year, we started a new tradition: a family New Year's Eve party. As soon as Christmas is over, I plan some fun games and other activities (using Pinterest, because my creativity level after Christmas is pretty pathetic!) We have appetizers for dinner and snack on them all night, spend a lot of time together playing and laughing, and reflect on the past year and its many blessings.
We implemented the time balloons again this year, as they were a big hit last year. Each hour (or so) the kids pop the balloon with that time written on it. Inside is a piece of paper that tells them the next activity. And confetti. Because confetti coming out of balloons is cool. I also prepared the supplies for each activity by putting them in gift bags that had the times on them. This kept the supplies at hand but still kept it a surprise for the kids.
First, we painted t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark puffy paint.
While those were drying, we decorated the living room (mostly with supplies I had on hand from past parties, a few dollar store finds, markers and paper, and some glow-sticks I purchased at Michaels that were 12 for $1.)
While the kids finished up the decorating, I got the food out. I prepared most of it during the day before the party started.
At this point, we turned on the black lights. I'd mentioned on Facebook that I was going with a glow-in-the-dark theme for this year, and a friend offered to loan me some black lights. The kids hadn't spent much time playing around with black light, and were pretty into it. The neon balloons that I'd bought, along with many of our other decorations, glowed beautifully.
(Yes, even the dog is wearing a glowstick necklace.)
From there, we played several rounds of Minute To Win It games. There are dozens of game ideas on Pinterest. I settled on Face the Cookie, Suck it Up, Keep it Up, Penny Hose, and Junk in the Trunk. There was much laughter, and the videos are priceless!
(Face the Cookie! Get a cookie from your forehead
into your mouth, without using your hands,
in under a minute. It is NOT EASY.)
Then we sat down for awhile and looked through pictures from the last year, much as we had done the year before. I love this time to remember and reflect together. At the end of the hour, we made a list of our Top Ten Favorite Things in 2014. Topping the list (for the second year) is animals – getting a new horse, raising baby animals of all kinds, gymkhanas and rodeos. It's neat to see the things that really stand out after a year has gone by.
After that, we needed to keep moving – it was 10:00 – or we were going to crash. So we played some glow-in-the-dark games. For ring toss, I made rings from the glow sticks. Then I dropped a glow stick into five water bottles (this is a cool effect!) We formed teams and tried to rack up the most points. Glow Bowling involved those same bottles and a neon ball. I had a piece of neon paper and neon markers, so even our score sheet glowed. Last was Glow Volleyball – a neon balloon was our “ball” and we used a strip of flagging tape as the “net”. Of all the activities, the glow games were probably the biggest hit.
Next were fireworks (leftover from the 4th of July) – we lasted as long as we could out in the frigid cold!
And then we poured some champagne – and sparkling cider for the girls – took a few last pictures, and toasted the New Year!
I'm so grateful for these moments spent with my sweet family. It took a fair bit of effort to plan it and put it all together, but the laughter and memories are more than worth it. As we head into 2015, we are filled with the memories of the past year – highlights, lessons learned, and knowing we have each other to get through all of it.