It’s the party-heartiest night of the year, a chance to forget auld acquaintances, and forge new ones steeped in vodka and regret. A night where everyone is forced to lock lips at the exact same time, to wear plastic hats and breath into noisemakers, to celebrate the passing of another year with our nearest and dearest (or a bunch of cute bankers in a $100-cover-charge bar). It’s pretty epic.
And then you have kids.
Babysitters are not an option; even the lamest of teenagers has plans on New Years. The way I see it, there are four options for ringing in the new year with your offspring. Each option is the beginning of the end of New Years as you know it.
1.) A quiet evening at home
The plan: Tonight you’ll party like you’re turning 99. Order family-style Boston Market, play an assortment of board games, and DVR the ball drop to watch the next day.
The rationale: With small kids, dealing with large crowds and the words “prix fixe” won’t cut it; your best bet is to treat New Years Eve like any other eve.
The outcome: Naturally, you’ll fall asleep by 10:30pm while watching Mockingjay on Netflix. But you’ll get woken up at 12:01am by a phone call from your mom. You will hear loud music and clanking glasses in the background as she slurs out “Happy New Year!”
Pro: What better way to ring on the new year than by a rousing game of Scattergories, arguing good-naturedly over whether a “dragon” counts as an “animal,” all while wearing elastic pants?
Con: Your 65-year-old mom is having more fun than you. This cannot stand. Is it too late to book a table at The Leopard Room?
2) A low-key evening with friends.
The plan: Meet up at the home of your best friend, who has kids almost the same age as yours. She’ll supply the entrees; you bring the magnum of wine.
The rationale: Not too long ago, you and your girlfriend spent a memorable New Year’s together in Cabo. While the memories are a bit fuzzy, it probably involved licking tequila off a stranger’s neck while grinding in a foam pit. Tonight you hope to recapture the same zeitgeist spirit, albeit replacing “Mexican paradise” with “suburban sprawl.”
The outcome: Someone suggests playing Scattergories, but the game remains unopened (unlike the wine). After it takes you three hours to put the kids to bed, you and your bestie consume every last drop of wine and reminisce.
Pro: Your kids might go off and play together, allowing you to wax fondly about that time you drunkenly staggered into a row of tiki torches but didn’t catch fire, or that other time when you stood guard while your friend peed behind a fake palm tree.
Con: Whatever happened in Cabo in 2007 was a HELL of a lot more exciting than talking about whatever happened in Cabo in 2007. Sighhhh.
3.) A kids’ party
The plan: Who needs Time Square to have a rocking New Years? Your neighbor is having everyone in the cul de sac over to his place. All you need to provide are socks for the bouncy house and your favorite topping for the make-your-own-sundae bar.
The rationale: If your kids are happy, you are happy. And nothing makes your spawn ecstatic like plotting anarchy with mostly-unsupervised neighborhood riff-raff. Plus, even though you only live twelve feet from each other, you haven’t seen Bob and Linda since the block party last July.
The outcome: You will spend the next six hours refereeing fights between children that aren’t yours, picking sprinkles from your kids’ hair like rainbow-colored lice, and trying not to get hit by a remote-controlled helicopter that is inexplicably being operated indoors. When no one is looking, you will house the entire bag of crushed Oreos you brought for the ice cream bar.
Pro: You will not need to dress up for this. Like, at all. Also, you might make new friends who have kids the same age as yours; that is, if you can hear anyone over the din of fifteen toddlers losing their shit over a Nerf gun.
Con: There will be more screaming, broken bottles, vomit, and public urination than if you had just spent New Year’s in Times Square.
4.) The rager
The plan: Your single girlfriend is throwing one of her patented house parties, and you decide this is the year to be a part of it, newborn and all.
The rationale: Nothing’s changed since you had a baby, right? Your friend said she wanted to meet your little one- this is the perfect moment. The fact that the bass is so loud you can hear your heartbeat in your throat shouldn’t deter you; babies can sleep through anything!
Seriously, those cups aren’t going to flip themselves.
The outcome: You wear your cutest nursing halter top and try not to talk about your placenta too much. At one point, you’re too busy swearing to your girlfriend that “it totally won’t stain,” to notice that every time your baby cries, people are doing a shot.
Pro: If the cops come, you can claim that you were breastfeeding in the basement and didn’t see anything.
Con: Know what’s good for a hangover? A screaming baby.