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Celebrating New Year’s with Littles can create fond memories

New Year’s Eve used to be a celebration I loved as a little kid. The adults were all dressed up, and we got to stay up late and drink grape juice out of plastic champagne glasses. My mother would call us into the room just as the ball dropped, and we would all countdown and go to bed. As an adult, years later I realized that I had been duped.

My mother was an expert at recordings on the VCR and all the kids were tucked up into bed by the very late hour of 8, which left the adult to play card games and stay up until the real midnight. Smart woman, rested kids and nobody was the wiser. Once I became a mom, we developed our own special events for New Year’s Eve which most definitely include and early bedtime for everybody. As it turns out, there are many other Upstate Parents who have some fun traditions they are passing to their children — great minds think alike!

Katrina Valliere allows her son to stay up with his cousins until they all pass out (usually on the floor). It has become a tradition of her family to get together every year out of town and it is a time the cousins are allowed to be up late and dance.

More: Where to celebrate New Year's Eve with kids

Kate Ryder Young follows a tradition she picked up in Spain of having everybody try and eat 12 grapes at one time. The grapes represent prosperity and there is one for every chime of the clock. Laughter and hilarity ensue.

Debbie Milteer remembers when her now grown daughter was little, they would move New Year’s Eve to 8 in the evening. With a prepurchased roll of bubble wrap they would ring in the New Year and stomp on all the bubbles. In that same tradition of getting the kids to bed on time, Raina Farrell and Lindsay Shuller Nickles both make good use of the Netflix countdowns for their individual families. At our house we select three in a row and ring in the New Year several times. The dance party afterwards is the best.

Dodi Leslie Williams and her family choose to have a fun New Year’s Day celebration with special foods that consist of black-eyed peas and collard greens. In our own house that is the one day of the year that we have a breakfast brunch with everybody’s favorite food from hot dogs and tacos to ice cream for breakfast.

In our home, we begin the evening after dinner at six and make luminaries, we light 12 of them with child safe “candles” and put them on our kitchen counter. From there we have balloons that we blow up and write the time on them. Each half hour we pop one and follow the list of instructions. Sometimes it is as simple as making a phone call to a relative while other times it is helping to bake cookies to pass out to neighbors the following morning. Our one rule is that there is no television until we turn on the countdown and celebrate. All of the festivities in our home are finished by 8. The next morning is a huge brunch for family and friends to drop by. Our very last tradition is to read the list of things we did the previous year. That we do once a week as a family and quickly drop in the memories we made that week.

Whatever you and your family do to celebrate with Little Ones, whether it is to take a hike or sleep in, we hope you have a happy and safe New Year.

Tips for a successful New Years Eve with the Littles

1. Participate in several events around the Upstate that hold early events so Little Ones can still get to bed early in the evening.

2. When it gets dark hold your own mini fireworks celebration at 6 in the evening instead of midnight when everybody is likely to be a little grumpy.

3. If you are a Netflix user, they have ton of New Year’s Eve countdowns that you can watch around 8 instead of waiting for midnight. Kudos to my own mother who used to record the ball drop from the year before and show it to at 7 in the evening.

4. Have a series of events set up to do each hour as a family ending with an early celebration where everybody, parents included get to go to bed early.

5. Record your own “live” New Year’s Eve concert you put on as a family. You can have the big kids help the Littles be a part of the fun as an announcer or dancer or part of the hallway parade.

6. If you do enjoy staying up until midnight, give them a spot they can rest if they want to go to sleep and still be a part of the activity.

7. Instead of having a New Year’s Eve celebration, make a New Year’s Day celebration with a special breakfast and a phone call to family members to wish them a very happy New Year.