Last year was the first year we celebrated New Year's Eve with the kids (though not as late as midnight!). We decided to have a spontaneous party and knocked on doors to invite all our neighbours with kids (8 adults and 6 kids in all, ranging in age from 1 1/2 to 7 years old).
In Hungary, New Year's Eve (called Szilveszter in Hungarian), is often celebrated with a large dinner of pork and stuffed cabbage for good luck. (Read more about Hungarian New Year's traditions in my guest post over at Red Ted Art.) Since we decided at around 6pm that night to have a party (after all the shops were shut), we didn't have any stuffed cabbage on hand. Instead, we raided the pantry for whatever we did have and came up with crackers and cheese, cookies, a box of brownie mix, various sweet treats from Christmas, and some frozen meatballs - pork!
Szilveszter is also a time of superstitions, to ensure good luck for the coming year. In an effort to scare away evil spirits, people make as much noise as they can. Kazoos, paper horns, and other noisemakers keep the spirits away. People often wear silly hats, masks, and accessories, and buy noise-makers, fireworks, and sparklers. Earlier in the day, we had bought some noise-makers and sparklers for our own kids - and we always have lots of silly accessories in our dress-up box!
So after our snacks and drinks, some free play, and a spontaneous 'talent show' put on by the kids in our living room, we bundled the children up in their snowsuits and took them out to the garden to light up the sparklers (fortunately we had enough for everyone to share). They all had a wonderful time waving them around in the dark (with very close adult supervision, of course*), and blowing paper horns and those noisemakers that roll out, making as much noise as they could!
It was such fun, and the kids were all SO excited! Even though we had prepared nothing, it was one of the most fun parties that our kids remember, and they've been asking for months now to do it again this year!
*It goes without saying, really, but children should be supervised carefully whenever they are around sparklers or fireworks, should be shown how to safely hold a sparkler near the end away from the sparks, and should never pick up a sparkler that has burnt out as it remains hot for some time. We also had a designated place to put the burnt out sparklers, to avoid anyone stepping on them or picking them up. Also, please ensure that children are spaced far enough apart to avoid bumping one another with their sparklers.
Boldog Új Évet Kivánok! I wish you a happy New Year!