I’m going to backtrack a little bit here and share our New Year’s Eve celebration with you. We invited a few of the neighbors, but they all had plans already. My oldest was a little downcast about that, but I didn’t allow that to rain on my parade. I had an itching to throw a party, so a party I would throw, even if it was just for us.
Sometimes a girl just has to throw herself a party.
Besides, my husband’s parents and brother were able to come, so we had some company.
I’ve never been big on New Year’s, but this time I felt an overwhelming need to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong–2015 was hard for our family. We went through a lot of personal struggles that honestly made it almost one of our worst years yet. Human tendency would be to attempt to place the whole year in a little box, lock it shut, and hide it away in a dark corner of the mind so that we wouldn’t have to think about it ever again. But God has been teaching us to be thankful in all circumstances and moreover to thank Him for the bad along with the good. Have you ever tried thanking God for things that have hurt you? A powerful thing happens inside you when you do this, because you are operating in pure faith. You are saying, ‘Thank you for this horrible event/person/thorn in my side, because I know that You are using it for good, that You are working it into Your plan for my life, and that You have made a way for me to survive this catastrophe’. You are going against every instinct inside of you that is telling you that you have the right to be upset, and God rewards your faith with peace.
2015 sucked. There was so much pain and I wanted nothing more than to move on from it and never think about it ever again. But instead I laid down my right to be spiteful at the foot of the cross and chose to celebrate it instead. Although there was so much that hurt, God used it to mature me and strengthen my faith. I know He has a plan for good for us and is already working on healing all the wounds I incurred. So I said a big ‘Thank You’ in the way that I do it best–a party.
This was the earliest I have ever taken down Christmas. Last year I literally put the Christmas stuff away the day before Valentine’s Day, and that was only so that I could decorate for that holiday. I gotta say, I love me some Christmas, but it felt really good to take it all down before heading into the new year.
I stole many ideas for our New Year’s Eve party off of Pinterest, one of them being transforming our Christmas tree into a New Year’s tree. I took off all of the Christmas ornaments, but left the Christmas lights. Then I gave the kids birthday party streamers, balloons, noise makers and confetti poppers and let them go to town. I swapped out our Christmas star tree topper for this gaudy glittery gold pine cone ball that my husband hates that I’ve had since I was a teenager.
The kids had so much fun decorating our New Year’s tree! It is probably the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, but I absolutely love it all the same. This is definitely going to become a tradition. And let me tell you, when you have an eye sore like this sitting in your living room, it’s a great incentive to get rid of it quickly!
Eowyn and I put together a 2016 garland, which is an idea that I got from A Cultivated Nest. I made giant numbers out of cardstock using my Cricut and Eowyn glued cut up tinsel to them. It earned a place of honor on my mantel.
The girls and I made clocks to put around our real clock. Mine of course ended up being inspired by Doctor Who.
A party hat, noise maker, and white curling ribbon gave our clock a festive look.
I made the tackiest wreath ever for our front door. The base is a paper plate and the leftover loose tinsel from our numbers. In my mind, New Year’s is either very posh or very tacky; there is no in between. Although posh parties can be fun, tacky is more my jam. Tacky is fun because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m working on not taking life too seriously, so it just seemed to fit. My husband wanted to burn this wreath with fire because he hated it so much. But it’s kind of like an ugly Christmas sweater: so tacky that you can’t help but love it. I love it.
For dinner I made my famous chicken pot pie. One of these days I’ll have to share the recipe with you. I know I’m biased, but it’s pretty delicious.
As a special treat, I also made some confetti popcorn. It was really easy to put together. I melted white chocolate wafers and added about a tablespoon of popcorn topping to it, then coated freshly popped popcorn with it. I laid the chocolate covered popcorn out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, sprinkled it with a bit of sea salt and sprinkles. Obviously I could not partake in this particular dessert because of my dairy allergy, but I was told that it was delicious.
And a party isn’t a party without a lovely fruit platter.
I used leftover plates and napkins from parties past, because I didn’t feel like spending a bunch of money on this. That was probably one of my favorite aspects of this party–99% of everything that I did, I threw together with stuff that we already had on hand. It may not have all gone together perfectly, but it was a lot of fun.
You’ll notice that the balloons hanging from our light fixture have numbers on them. That’s because I had 5 activities planned and they all had a special time that we were to do them at. I found this idea on Craftabilities and thought it was such a clever way to help the kids get excited about the whole countdown thing. They couldn’t wait to get to the next activity! Each balloon had a piece of paper inside explaining what the activity for that block of time was. In usual Amanda fashion, I overplanned, so we didn’t get to do all of the activities that night. But the activities that we didn’t do on New Year’s Eve, we did on New Year’s Day.
After dinner, the festivities began!
The first activity was to make clock cookies. You have to use your imaginations with these; trust me, they’re clocks. The M&M’s did fine in the oven, but the Skittles got really hard after the cookies cooled off. The Mike and Ikes that we used for the clock hands we just put on right after pulling them out of the oven. But even though they weren’t heated in the oven, the Mike and Ikes got really hard after the cookies cooled too. So these cookies weren’t a roaring success taste wise, but they girls had fun making them, which is all that matters.
The next activity had to be completely skipped because I just didn’t plan it out right. I wanted to do a memory scavenger hunt with pictures. I got the idea from No Time For Flash Cards, but she wrote the memories down on strips of ribbon and after her kids found them they read them together and then put each ribbon on a mini Christmas tree. I loved the idea of an activity that was centered on remembering all of the good times that we had throughout the year, but I knew that my kids wouldn’t be that into it because they can’t read yet. Then I got the idea to use pictures, because they are very visual. I printed out my favorite Instagram pictures from the year and had planned to hide them around the house and have the kids find all of the memories. Then we were going to make a giant collage of them together. However, I printed out way too many pictures and they wouldn’t all fit on the canvas that I had originally planned to use. I actually just finished this project this last weekend. I’m horrible at printing out pictures, so I love having this to display in the house. I want to do this every year, and next New Year’s I’ll be better prepared to actually do it on New Year’s Eve.
The next activity was to help the kids fill out a ‘Year in Review’ sheet, which I found on Bombshell Bling. I put the papers inside a big 3 ring folder, which I’m planning on using to keep all of their ‘Year in Review’ sheets. That will be a fun folder to go through in 10 years time!
Next, we made noise makers, which is an idea that I got from Alpha Mom. Not that my kids needed any help making noise, but it was something fun for us to do together.
Then we quickly threw together toilet paper confetti poppers via Smashed Peas and Carrots. Theirs are a lot prettier than ours, as ours are literally just toilet paper rolls with cut balloons on one end. But they worked and were fun, which is really all that matters.
Our kids are 5, 3, and 1, so we rang in the New Year with them at 9 pm. They would have been beyond exhausted at midnight, and when they are beyond exhausted, they scream. Not the happy, ‘I’m so excited that I’m going to burst’ scream, but more like, ‘I’m so tired that I’m going to kill everyone around me by making their ear drums burst and bleed to death’. Call me crazy, but that’s just not the way I like to party.
Thanks to One Good Thing By Jillee we had our very own balloon drop! I used a leftover tablecloth from their Frozen party, and leftover balloons from Eowyn’s My Little Pony party (which I promise to share on here soon), so this literally just cost me my time. This was so much fun! The kids LOVED it!
And you know what? It was actually really easy to put together.
Right after the balloon drop, Eowyn ran over to change over her New Year’s banner that I made for her (click the link to see how I made it).
Aside from the photo collage, the other activity that we didn’t get to that night was the edible party hats that I saw on Cooking with My Kid. So we did those on New Year’s Day. It was a fun and delicious way to celebrate the New Year.
I am so glad that I made a big fuss about New Year’s this time around. It was a very cathartic experience after having such a hard year. Even though it was hard, I know God is going to use it all for good, and that is always worth celebrating.
Cheers to a new year, a fresh start, and the beginning of a much better chapter of life.