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Families can spend New Year's Eve together

Freedom Newspapers photo: Patrick Wyrick of Garden Grove, Calif., has a collection of 300 to 400 games. Studies have shown games are growing more popular as a family activity. Though most people have far fewer games than Wyrick, they may be a way to

As many fight that end-of-the-year chore of finding a baby-sitter, others will be spending their New Year’s Eve — gasp — at home, with their children.

Throwing a family party complete with a champagne (or sparkling cider) toast, fancy dress and noisemakers is one way to spend New Year’s Eve together.

Bringing in the new year as a family can be beneficial for everyone, said local counselor Charlotte M. Farkas, Ph. D.

“Doing something as a family is always good for kids,” she said. “Some of the best memories are made when you do things with the kids at home. They remember those ones even when they are adults.”

Farkas remembers a New Year’s Eve she spent with her children when they were living in Spain. A tradition in Spain is to try to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, for luck in the new year.

She said she remembers vividly stuffing grapes into their mouths, and watching them chew and swallow, seeds and all.

Though Farkas didn’t suggest spending the evening stuffing mouth’s full of grapes, she said playing games together and reminiscing are good ways to spend an evening as a family that will foster relationships and memories.

It’s not bad for the children to leave them at home and go out, Farkas said.

If you have a good relationship with your children, she said, it’s okay to go out and leave them home. She said when she and her husband went out for New Year’s Eve, they would always call their three boys and wish them a Happy New Year at midnight.

Though calling is a way of including children, spending time with children on New Year’s Eve can do much more than create memories — it can affect their self image, Farkas said.

“(Children) get their ideas of who they are by how we treat them,” Farkas said. “And when we pay attention to them and spend time with them, that tells them that they’re important little people.”

So, for those who decide to stay home with the little ones, what activities can people do?

Marilyn Belcher, director of Clovis-Carver Public Library, said the library is a good place to look for ideas. They have videos, DVDs and books on tape for entertainment.

If people want to plan some activities, Belcher suggested looking in the handicraft and parenting sections of the library.

Belcher also said people can check out toys at the library.

“They have different kinds of toys that a child might not have at home,” Belcher said.

Last-minute planners can check any of these items out from the library until 5 p.m. on Friday.

The Web site cites more suggestions from Cynthia MacGregor’s book “Fun Family Traditions” for ideas of things to do with your family this New Year’s Eve:

n Instead of making resolutions, have each family member decide on one bad habit they’d like to break. Write the habits on pieces of paper and take turns throwing the paper into the fireplace.

n Let each family member make predictions about what they think will happen in the new year. Write them down and save them to read next year.

n Make plans for the new year by letting family members talk about the things they’d like to do in the coming months. This is a great time to talk about where everyone would like to go for vacation, what activities they’d like to participate in, or any big changes they’d like to see.

n Keep expenses down and have the party at home. Have a special meal and favorite videos or music. Let the kids stay up as late as they want and provide some noisemakers.

n Reminisce on all the fun you’ve had, or reflect on the changes and how your family has grown.