On my first New Year’s Eve as a parent, we had a 4 month- old baby with a crummy sleep schedule. That year we crawled into bed sheepishly at 10pm. I saw 11:59 but only as wake up #2. Not quite the same as New Year’s Eve from our pre-parent lives.
Why New Year’s Eve is annoying as a parent:
1. Midnight is way too late for cranky “old” parents.
2. The idea of being in a sweaty room full of strangers to toast the New Year feels odd especially when I just want to be home to kiss my baby’s head as she sleeps.
3. Need a designated driver. Please. Can’t we just drink bubbly at home?
4. Who can get a babysitter on Dec 31st anyways? All the trustworthy teenagers already have plans themselves!
What’s more fun to me is to incorporate our kids in the celebration along with great friends and host a bright brunch family playdate, along with mimosas, to toast the coming year. Everyone wins – adults have adult time, kids are included and everyone loves to blow those honking blow thingies at each other and wear silly hats.
How to Throw a Happy Noon Year Party
Think Loud: Horns, drums, even wooden spoons banging on pots & pans.
The Countdown: Count down to 12 noon and make a big deal as the clock ticks to noon. Make loads of noise when you hit 12!
Sparkly Crafts: Imagine fireworks paintings and sparkly hats kids decorate themselves!
Then enter in kids who don’t care too much about the New Year, but they love a party! Preschoolers are all about that calendar though – so use that to your advantage as you ring in a new month and a new year!
Resolutions: Resolve to ring in the New Year in a new way – that’s enough of a resolution and you fulfilled it on Jan 1st – good on you!
New Year’s resolutions are beyond me now. Good for goal setting but really, the flip of the calendar no longer motivates me. I’m an adult and I figure I can make changes whenever the time is right. However, it’s entertaining to hear what your kids come up with for their ‘resolutions’ – they may be insightful or just plain funny – but great to keep track of from year to year!
Baking with kids can be fun—but sometimes the kids (and moms!) just want to skip all the steps and get to the icing! Enter Gingerbread Houses—it’s all about the icing, sweet decorations, sticky fingers, and great memories.
Kids from all over momstown have been covered in Royal Icing, with red and green fingers from sprinkles and half sucked jelly beans. Grab the piping bag and get inspired by the many ways momstown has been decorating this holiday.
Gingerbread houses without the gingerbread.
Check out these model homes. Substitute graham crackers and get building. Easy to work with, and no baking required!
Go beyond the house—build a whole winter scene.
Go Pre-fab for a quick closing!
Pre-built houses are a great way to leave the baking to someone else and just enjoy the fun of decorating. momstown Barrie made some great creations – I think there’s some engineering teamwork at play here too!
Generate some friendly (adult) competition
In momstown Burlington, the adults weren’t just helpers – they were competitors! They made a gingerbread town—all made by some determined and creative mamas!
Beyond the Houses
Gingerbread is adaptable and a great way to incorporate other traditions. We love this company that creates Gingerbread Menorahs for those who celebrate Hanukkah and especially for multi-faith families.
Make sure you've got the right masonry materials
Here's the Royal Icing momstown Winnipeg recipe used. You need to use this type of stiff icing in order to keep the pieces of the house together.
2 large egg whites
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
Whisk together the egg whites and 1 1/3 cups of the powdered sugar until smooth.
Add the remaining 1 1/3 cups of powdered sugar to the mixture. Beat on high speed until the icing holds stiff peaks. Add more powdered sugar if needed, until stiff peaks form. Place a dampened clean towel over the bowl of royal icing to prevent it from drying out while you work with it.
Once you are ready to use it, fill a pastry bag (or ziploc bag with the tip cut off).
Enjoy decorating (and eating) your creations!
I know, you’re thinking “Seriously? I thought this was a good idea??”
You’re covered in flour, the floor is a mess of coconut and chocolate chips and your kids fingers won’t stay out of the mixing bowl. You’re wondering where the fun in this is? It sounds like a disaster, right?
Nope, it’s a memory.
A learning experience. A wonderful holiday tradition for you to create with your kids. One moment that’s really worth the cookie crumbs and vagrant coconut pieces that get dragged into the living room via their now dirty white socks.
The holidays are a perfect time to spend more moments with your wonderfully loud and excitable kiddos. With so much to cram into a short season it may seem easier to avoid the messy, confusing things like baking together.
For moms who aren’t naturally inclined to bake or craft, this whole idea can feel rather over the top (WHY not just visit the bakery and have a civilized memory together??). But, baking with your kids is really something they will recall for a lifetime and make that childhood seem that much sweeter. Take the plunge and pull out your apron (or put on an old shirt if you’re not Martha).
A few tips to survive baking with kids
1. Make a Plan. Get ahead of the mess machines and set up the ingredients along with bowls, measuring cups and the mixer. The more organized you are up front the best. Our momstown Junior Chef program works well with the advance planning. Recently, momstown Oakville moms made ‘gingerbread’ houses with graham crackers and momstown Milton created holiday squares.
2. Reason for the Insanity: All this baking needs to have a home and a reason. Make something to give away for teacher, neighbour gifts or cookie exchange. By planning it that way, you’re less likely to bail on the plan AND you help your child develop pride in their work and their giving.
3. Choose a creative project that’s easy to adapt: Let’s face it, a fussy baking is not for kids and you’ll get frustrated in the process. Rolled snowball type cookies are perfect as they are fun to create and asymmetry doesn’t affect the taste. Gingerbread houses are a pain to bake but super fun to decorate! Last season most of our momstown chapters had a blast adapting Rice Krispies treats and creating trees, houses and bears - far simpler (hence more fun) than a traditional gingerbread house.
4. Document! Take loads of pictures of the whole process for the memory books (or jpg files!). When the cookies get burnt you’ll still be able to reflect on how much FUN that was.
5. Eggnog never hurts: Nothing wrong with mama chef enjoying a little spiked eggnog during the baking. It helps turn a blind eye to the egg shells in the batter and the germy fingers in the bowl. We’re all real moms, right?