By Christy, Contributing Writer
The Christian walk is all about new beginnings. Each day we are given a fresh chance, forgiveness, a clean slate wiped clear of the myriad of blunders and missed opportunities from the day before.
The upcoming new year provides 366 new days to live for Christ, to draw our little ones toward His love, and to cherish the all-too-short time we have with our families.
Family New Year’s Eve celebrations present the ideal opportunity to focus on family, God’s faithfulness, and our walk with Christ.
At the Simple Home we schedule a myriad of New Year’s Eve activities (and snack breaks) to keep all ages occupied and awake until the final hour…or at least the final hour in some other time zone for the littles. Some of my favorites are those which involve food, naturally, but also those which hold the most meaning.
Activities for Meaningful New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Preserving Family Memories
Memories of my childhood are invaluable to me…well, except for the time I…never mind. I want my children to value memories of their childhood as well. I want them to laugh as they recall the good times, such as family trips or bringing home a new baby or puppy.
I want them to see God’s arms holding them close through the tough times that molded us as a family, such as my father-in-law’s death and my daughter’s recent hospitalization and illness.
Too often, however, life crowds out the memories.
To help us hold onto things our fickle brains might otherwise toss aside, we fill out memory pages about the previous year. The pages contains typical information, like age, height, favorite food, and favorite book, as well as not-so-typical, such as naming a favorite or least favorite event, something worth remembering forever, goals, and accomplishments.
To see or print an example of a memory page we have used and which you are welcome to use with your own family, click here. For instructions on a far more elaborate version, check out this “Best Of” book from Kojo Designs.
We have a great time recording our predictions for the new year.
How many books will the bookworms complete? How many times will we say, “Shut the door! Were you raised in a barn?” How many batches of cookies will absent-minded Mommy burn…and probably eat anyway? (I have a thing for cookies lately.) What will the youngest be doing a year from now? (Walking, talking, reading, copying Picasso on the walls?) What trips will we take? How many concerts will Daddy perform?
The options are endless.
These questions help everyone focus on the personalities, likes and dislikes, and character of each individual family member, as well as focus on personal goals and dreams for the upcoming year.
We always make it a point to read the predictions from the previous year and see how accurate we were. Some of the predictions are spot on!
To see an example of a prediction form you may wish to use with your family, click here.
No matter what we’re wearing, no matter how messy the hair, whether shaven or unkempt, made-up or real, glasses or contacts…whatever we look like, we take a very real, very “us” family photo each year.
It’s fun to see individual personalities revealed in this “real” snapshot.
This visual representation of how we’ve changed over the year(s) is a bitter-sweet reminder that time passes too quickly, so we must cherish the moments we have together and prioritize over the new year.
In our garage we keep a time capsule. (Not the time traveling sort, mind you. I know, bummer.)
Our time capsule is nothing fancy.For a few dollars we bought a five gallon pail and lid from the paint section of a local store and decorated it with permanent markers.
This is where we keep our predictions, photos, and memory pages. We also scramble around at some point during our New Year’s Eve celebrations looking for memorabilia to include.
It’s nothing fancy, but is oh-so-fun to look through once a year.
Putting Off the Old Self
This is, perhaps, my favorite part of our New Year’s Eve celebrations…even better than the food if you can believe that.
Each person writes (or draws) on a slip of paper what habit or character trait he or she would like to eliminate over the coming year. Examples include whining, procrastinating, eye rolling, eating all the cookies after everyone else goes to bed, worrying, and being impatient.
Sharing what each person wrote (or drew, in the case of the littles) is optional.
When done, each person tosses the old habits into the fireplace and prays for strength and guidance for the new year while watching the old ways burn.
I’m not saying it works miracles (someone still eats all the cookies after everyone else is in bed), but it does get everyone thinking, praying, and focusing. Some of the children (and their mother) take this personal assessment very seriously.
By focusing on the value of family, the lessons we’ve learned, and our walk with Christ, we turn a day of potential gut rot and lack of sleep into a meaningful New Year’s Eve celebration year after year.
I’ve created a guide for you to do the same! This eBook includes encouragement and motivation on how to create your own personal planning retreat, examples of the tools needed to plan, plus 35 printables to guide you through your own retreat.
What are your ideas for making New Year’s Eve celebrations meaningful?
Christy writes about simplifying life at The Simple Homemaker. Once weighed down by unrealistic expectations and life’s overwhelming demands, Christy has learned to throw off the complications of life and find joy in the little things. Christy and her contemporary Christian musician husband, Stephen Bautista, homeschool their 7 children, ages brand new to 15. The family tours the country for the music mission and works together on a home business.