Amy’s Free Ideas

Seasons > New Year’s Day > Activities for the whole family

Write a Family History

Make a book to keep a record of the family history--it is amazing how quickly we forget! Get the kids involved and make January first the day to remember and record the big events from the previous years. Include trips, illnesses, visits from relatives, appliances replaced, pets acquired or expired, children’s various accomplishments, or Dad’s jobs-- beginning and ending. (Some of these can come in handy for reasons other than reminiscing, too.)  You could also include school photos of the kids, or a few snapshots especially chosen to record some of the events. I even enjoyed keeping a copy of some of the comic strips that tickled my funny bone at that stage of life. Hand prints, foot prints, or even a growth chart to pull out and mark each year, are all hands on ways for kids to see how much they have grown over the past year.

New Year Plan

Make a year plan--goals for what you want to teach each of your children, goals for things you want to accomplish yourself, places you want to visit or vacations to take, or things you want to do as a family. This can be kick-started party style by letting everyone dream big and out loud--find out what everyone would love to do and places they would like to visit. Then make a chart with target dates, especially for things that need to be done in stages, along with a column to check that it was accomplished. If this is not the first year, you can also evaluate how last years goals were met...or not met. This idea may seem like it is unnecessary until you consider how many things you need to teach your children before they head off to college, and adulthood. You begin to realize, the sooner you start, the better. It also avoids a pitfall I fell into often--once I taught something to my oldest, I checked it off as taught, and didn’t remember to teaching my younger children!

Make a Calendar for the Grandparents

Color copy photos of your children so they are letter size (A4). Slip them into a notebook with plastic sleeves. (Hundred yen stores sell these.) Then use the computer to make a calendar for the year, and include things you want the grandparents to remember (reminding them of birthdays, etc.) Slip these into the pocket opposite each picture. Punch a hole in all the pages for easy hanging. Each year send new pages so the grandparents can enjoy looking at their grandchildren all year long. An alternative would be to use your children’s artwork as a mat and a normal sized snapshot mounted on that. This is especially good if your child is a prolific artist!

Reminisce using a Game

Any game is fun, but this day is a good day to reminisce together, so one of the relational games is a good choice--Family Stories, Chicken Soup for the Family Soul, and if someone still has it after all these years, The Ungame. If you don’t have one of these games, you can make up your own. Cut 5 or so cards per person, and have each person write one question per card. Shuffle the cards, and take turns answering the questions. Use a game board from a game you already have, if you feel like making it a game board.

Game Marathon

Dig out all the games you own, and play each game until midnight, or until you run out of games. Kids love playing with their parents, and games take zero preparation--so you might just get hooked and decide to play one game every week all year long! It’s such a small investment with such huge dividends!

Many people celebrate by throwing a party on New Year’s Eve where friends gather and stay up till midnight to welcome in the new year when they make a toast or kiss, or shout, “Happy New Year!”  Usually alcoholic beverages are served, so children are not usually part of this tradition.

Some people stay at home and watch other people celebrate on television, often watching the ball drop in Time Square. (My children were disappointed when they saw this because they expected a spectacular crash rather than a slow controlled descent of the enormous lighted ball.) Many people also set off fireworks at midnight.

Some cities provide the party with entertainment, such as magic shows and local rock bands and end with a fireworks shows at midnight.

Since people stay up late on New Year’s Eve, not much happens on January first--people sleep in, take it easy, and many people watch football games.

Ways Americans Typically Celebrate New Year’s Eve

Indoor light show

If your children have a regular bedtime, staying up late can be very exciting--when they are young, it’s not important to stay up till midnight-- an hour later than bedtime is sufficiently thrilling. Then each year you can allow them to stay up a little later until you allow them to stay up till midnight. But how do you fill that time so it feels like a special party, rather than just do the same thing they do every night before they go to bed, like watching T.V., until the clock says it’s midnight? We turned out the lights and turned on a light show--it was like indoor fireworks. We turned on the music, and the kids moved to the music. The first year I bought small flashlights that had fibers in front of the light--as the kids waved them in the dark, it looked like indoor sparklers. Another year I bought flashlights with globes covered in “jewels,” like mini disco balls (from Oriental Trading company.) I bought a dozen, so when the kids got tired of dancing to the music, we hid the flashlights for an in-the-dark treasure hunt. Another year I bought a strobe light, and they had fun putting on shows for each other. Every year I tried to find a new light show device so the celebration didn’t get boring.

New Year’s Cookies

Since it’s a party, you need food, too, right? Our kids especially liked cookies in the shape of that year’s date. Hundred yen stores and craft stores sell number cookie cutters.  When we baked the cookies, we crowded the numbers together so they stuck together like one cookie. Sometimes we made cookies for both years--we would eat the old year’s cookies until midnight, and the new year’s cookies after midnight.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids

Review the year

Look at photo albums and videos of the past year. If none have been made, make it a point to make them now--spend the evening, or during the day on January first, to make photo albums as a family. Make it a point to affirm the children in their accomplishments for the year--it will help their self-confidence grow.

Ways Japanese Typically Celebrate New Year’s Day

Japanese preparations  for the new year begin as soon as Christmas is over. Everyone cleans their homes and businesses so the local gods feel welcome. They also put up traditional decorations--what looks like a rope wreath on the front door, or bamboo branches and paper good luck charms on the front gate. Businesses and wealthy individuals sometimes put huge bamboo and pine displays on either side of their entryway. All of these decorations have religious significance, so Christians do not display these decorations.

On New Year’s Day, many people visit the temple to buy good luck for the coming year. Many Christians go to church for a New Year’s Day worship service as a Christian alternative.

At home, everyone eats rice cakes, often in a sweet bean stew. There are quite a few specialty foods that in the past women would spend days preparing so that they could be free of work to celebrate the holiday, too. Now you can order it all from the local convenience store.

There are games traditionally played on this day, and some people still fly kites on this day. Where we lived near the beach, the wind was strong, and they flew giant 15 foot kites on New Year’s Day.

Seasons > New Year’s Day > Activities for the whole family