I adore everything that New Year’s Eve represents: fresh starts, resolutions and Harry running through the streets of New York City to kiss crinkly-faced Sally at midnight. My one gripe is that the critical moment happens too late for my circadian rhythm. Still, I love the holiday too much to ignore it, blithely heading to bed at 10pm and casually waking up the next morning, as if the whole year didn’t just change. That feels wrong. Instead, I’ve developed my own system for celebrating the New Year with gusto, within the confines of a reasonable bedtime. I’d like to say that I have developed my New Year celebration strategies for the benefit of my four young daughters. But, the unapologetic truth is, I’m just tired. I need my sleep. Having little ones at home is just a bonus excuse for not making it to the midnight toast. Anyone else relate? Whatever your reasons for hitting the hay early this year, I am pleased to share my three secrets to celebrating the new year’s arrival without having to actually witness it.
1. Pick a different time zone
I learned this one nine years ago when my (French) husband Philippe and I moved to the United States. On December 31, we still called all of our friends and family over in France at midnight (their time) to toast the New Year. We listened to their noisemakers and laughed along with their parties in full swing. We celebrated with them via phone, felt the joy of the upcoming year and hung up. I felt partied out a good half day before the ball would drop in Times Square. So, what started out as a phone call has turned into a yearly tradition with our daughters: We celebrate New Year’s as the French do, meaning in their time zone. We do a sit-down dinner complete with fancy-looking food for our whole family, toast each other with sparkling cider and call the family back in France at midnight, which is 3pm for us. And even I can stay up for that. For ideas on a few festive holiday dishes that will excite both kids and adults, try my recipes for Bacon Ranch Cream Cheese Wellington, a Carrot Hummus Platter and Chocolate Chip Biscookies.
2. Create (or update) your family’s mission statement
When Philippe and I first had kids, New Year’s Eve babysitters were not in our budget. Instead, we would put the babies to bed and spend our evening talking about what we wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year, both as individuals and as a family. Now, every New Year’s, we create a mission statement for ourselves and our family. It’s an activity that doesn’t require staying up late, yet you will feel like you have actually done something (very valuable!) to mark the new year. Note: You can keep the mission statement simple. Where to start? A quick internet search for “family mission statement” will yield all sorts of approaches — from answering a few key questions to filling out a detailed questionnaire and identifying themes. For one simple version, check out the mission statement builder tool on FranklinCovey’s website — in about 10 minutes, you’ll have a mission statement draft that can be emailed to you. Or, for a less techy solution, ask your family one simple question: What do we want to do more this year?
3. Host a New Year’s Day brunch
The perfect excuse for going to bed early is that you have to get up early. Why not be the one to host a New Year’s Morning Brunch? For us, brunch is a fantastic family-friendly entertaining choice since young kids are usually at their cheeriest in the morning. Hand-held or preportioned food not only looks festive for a buffet, but is also very kid friendly (my kids will eat almost anything palm-sized!). Think Huevos Rancheros (mine are made in a muffin tin!) and my Brunch Cornbread, or ramekins of my Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Cream or sweet sausage served along with decadent-enough-for-dessert Chocolate Pain Perdu (French Toast) (pictured top). Whatever you serve, you’ll be rested enough to enjoy it.
I’d love to hear from you! Anyone else out there asleep by midnight on New Year’s Eve? How do you celebrate?