Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A New Year's Tradition With Children

A few years ago, a zillion it seems, I came across an idea for celebrating the New Year with children that became a really special time for us. I don't remember where I read about it, but knowing me, it was Family Fun Magazine. Living away from family we did not have large family gatherings, dinners, or big celebrations. I made it a point to begin our own traditions, to do things that would be memorable and meaningful.

Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions were easy, New Year's Eve and Day - I was stuck. I grew up in the New Orleans's area. My memories of New Year's Eve as a child and teenager are filled with late night parties, including children, and lots of FIREWORKS at midnight. Everyone had their own fireworks display right in their yards, or in the street in front of their homes. I wonder now, looking back, if it was even legal. If it wasn't, no one seemed to care. We didn't have to drive a few miles away, at midnight, and fight crowds and traffic to see the sky all lit up and hear the noise. It was all around us. As an adult living in North Carolina, staying up until midnight and watching the Times Square Ball Drop on T.V. just didn't compare.

With young children, staying up until midnight wasn't an option. Even if I allowed it, they often fell asleep. So, how could I make one of my favorite holidays memorable? A New Year's Tree! Here's the idea.....

The day after Christmas, all the ornaments come off of the tree, and get packed away. (Double bonus, half the work is done early). Leave the lights on, and if you'd like, some of the ornaments, but NOTHING GREEN OR RED. Then, redecorate the tree in any other color and include lots of sparkly stuff.

You don't have to spend a lot of money, in fact you don't have to spend any money at all. That's the beauty of it. After the busyness of Christmas, sometimes the "crash" seems like a little bit of a let down. All the fanfare, and then.... nothing. The kids are out of school and all the crafts and neat projects are gone. Unless, you have them make the ornaments! We used to make ornaments out of construction paper, or sometimes we took a Christmas ornament idea and simply changed the colors. One year, we made paper snowflakes.

Once the theme or color was decided and the tree was redecorated, we drew names. Everyone had one week to make or think of a gift for the sibling or parent they got. But, no money could be spent AND the gift had to signify a wish for the the receiver's coming year. We gave something that already belonged to us, or made something. The gift can be silly, like a homemade book of jokes to wish lots of laughter. One year, my husband gave my oldest daughter a compass he had, and said it was so she could always find the right direction. The gifts were exchanged on New Year's Eve.

You could do as much as you want with the tradition. Keep it simple, or go all out. The important part is the week between Christmas and New Year's takes on a whole new meaning. You can top it off with a special party including games and activities for New Year's Eve. You can lots of ideas for a party here, Parent's Magazine.

I always took the idea one step further. I came up with a specific theme, really a word. The Word for the Year. The first year we did it, I prayed about it. I wanted the word to symbolize a theme for the year. It became a very special time for me during the holiday season. Every year since then, somewhere around November, a word sort of drops into my heart, and I know it is the word for the coming year. I am sentimental like that. One year, it was LOVE. We decorated with pink hearts. It looked more like a Valentine's tree! Another year, grace, another year, peace. We only did a New Year's Tree for about four years, but the word of the year is still a tradition I keep, all by myself. I already know what the next year's word is: HOPE.

The Year 2000: paper streamers, curling ribbon, construction paper ornaments, and LOTS of glitter

I've shared this post on:

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Family Home and Life: Grandparents Say it Saturday


  1. What a beautiful tradition! We normally do an appie dinner and family movie night. But other than that we keep it pretty low key. I've dubbed New Years my quiet holiday, because after all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it's nice to slow it all down. I really like your idea of choosing a word for the year.

    I've added you to my RSS feed, can't wait to read more of your posts!

    1. We keep it quiet also now that my girls are older, but I'm glad we did it for a few years. Looking forward to your posts also! :)

  2. Oh how fun. I love to do blowers, hats, streamers, and games with my grandkids when we get the chance to be together on New Year's Eve. On those occasions we can't, I usually enjoy a fun movie or game time with one of my daughters. Delightful times, that's for sure. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. :)

    1. That sounds like fun, too! But back in the days when we did our New Year's tree I was too pooped to go all out! :)

  3. Yours is a very fresh perspective on that "let down" week after Christmas for the kids! I would have used your idea with my daughters with great success! I am keeping this tucked away for the future, when the time comes that the grandkids are old enough to enjoy New Year's Eve at a grandma sponsored cousin sleepover party.
    Merry Christmas to you, fellow Say it Saturday grandma!

  4. What a great idea for a tradition! Hope is certainly a wonderful theme for next year. Merry Christmas!

  5. I love this idea! It is the perfect thing for the 'let down' you talked about. I also love your word for the year. This is something I always meant to do but never really did. Perhaps I'll try again, it's never too late to try :) You've given me hope! Thanks so much for linking up with us at Say It Saturday!

  6. I love your new word for the year! & lovely family tradition! Hope your Christmas was beautiful & wishing you the best in the new year!

    1. Happy New Year to you! May it be filled with hope and blessings!