As you and your family ring in the new year, consider these ideas for getting your year off to a great start:
Look Back to Look Forward
I help my kids reflect on the past year so they can choose one goal that is important for them in the coming year. Anything that is a positive change counts. As we talk, we remember to keep our goals simple and specific. If a goal is too difficult or too vague, it's unlikely the child will succeed.
Then, as a family, we make a large poster together. We write the new year in large numbers and then list one goal for each person, such as, "I will make one new friend this year at school."
We decorate our poster with our favorite colors, Scriptures and other personal touches. Afterward, we hang it in our home as a reminder and encouragement to stick to our goals.
Looking Back on the Year
One New Year's Eve, our family wanted to celebrate the great things that had happened to us in the previous year. The problem? We couldn't remember them! Our solution was the Memory Jar — an empty canning jar with slips of paper to write down events (both happy and hard) throughout the year. A report card with excellent grades, a part in the school play and momentous events like moving to a different state were all recorded and placed in the jar. The following New Year's Eve, we opened the jar and took turns pulling out a slip and reading the memory on it. It was a good reminder of the ways God has been with us through it all.
Lighting Up the New year
At the end of the year, our family gathers in the living room to recall blessings from the previous 12 months. We turn on exactly 12 lights around the house, and we place 12 unlit tea lights across the mantel.
Then we reflect on each month: January, something new we tried; February, a special valentine we gave or received; March, our favorite thing about spring; and so on. It's interesting and fun to hear each family member share memories. Some memories make us cry, and some make us laugh.
After each month's reflections, we turn off an electric light and light a candle. The kids love that part. By the end, the room is lit only by tiny candles. We pray and give thanks for a great year together, and we look forward to a new year.
New Year's Eve
We wanted to celebrate ringing in the year with our 3-year-old daughter, Katelyn, and her older brother, Matthew, without interrupting their bedtimes. So we shopped for party hats, noisemakers and a can of confetti. When New Year's Eve came, we invited family members over early in the evening. The children were very excited and entertained us by singing songs. We set the kitchen timer to ring a little before 8 p.m. When it went off, we tooted our horns and celebrated. Then we put the children to bed and had our grown-up celebration of the new year.