Amazingly enough, we are already coming to the end of another year. The excitement of the new year brings with it both memories and opportunities. But before we get into another year, we must first celebrate an amazing 2014. And what better way to celebrate than with the loved ones who made the year special? If you are like me, you don't exactly get excited about paying a fortune just to wait in long lines and fight crowds at New Year's Eve events. So why not celebrate at home? I have included my top five at-home New Year's Eve celebration ideas below. Invite the whole neighborhood or enjoy a quiet evening with the family. In fact, you will have so much fun with these activities at your New Year's celebration that you just may drop before the ball does!
• Dance party. Planning on watching Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve this year? If not, you should! It has been an annual tradition in my house for as long as I can remember. The kids will have a blast watching some of the most popular performers today such as One Direction, Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor. The whole family will be dancing until the wee hours of the morning. And, if you manage to stay up late enough, take part in the New Year's countdown and watch the ball drop in New York's Times Square.
• Treasure hunt. Plan an awesome scavenger hunt for the entire family. Did the family take a magical trip to Disney this year? Or was a new family member born? Design the treasure hunt using clues that are based on memories that your family has made throughout the past year. Provide each family member with a hand-drawn or printed map and let them use their investigative skills to find the prize. Or for older children, extend the game and "release" a new clue every hour or so which will lead them closer to figuring out a piece of the puzzle. If cost is an issue — after all, it's only a week after Christmas — create a handmade item or put together a small gift bag to use as the prize.
• Time capsule. Time capsules are an amazing way to remember past events and learn about the generations that came before us. Opening a time capsule can be a treasure hunt in itself. Have the kids decorate a container with paint, markers and crayons to use as the capsule. Try to use a container that is watertight so that your items won't be damaged easily. Add items to the capsule that will educate the people opening it about the current events and trends of 2014. You can add virtually anything to the capsule, but small items like photos, newspapers and/or articles — such as this one — handwritten notes, technological items and small toys work best. Bury the capsule in a secure location for a set amount of time and have the family dig it up after that time has elapsed. A period of at least five years works best, but it can be buried for longer or shorter depending on your current living situation.
• New year collage: For many children — and some adults, too — the post-Christmas blues can leave a feeling of disappointment that the season has come to an end. The excitement builds for weeks only to be over in the blink of an eye. Well, this New Year's activity is the perfect cure for those blues. Does your daughter want to learn how to play lacrosse? Is your son dying to try the new roller coaster at Six Flags this summer? Purchase some inexpensive poster board and have the family make a collage of all the exciting things that they would like to do in 2015. Draw or paste pictures representing everyone's hopes and dreams for 2015. Before you know it, the whole family will be on board with this project and will be saying "Bring on 2015."
• Trip around the world. I personally love any type of fun family idea that is also educational, and this just so happens to be one of them. Use the holiday as a way to teach your children about cultures and customs from around the world. Research New Year's customs in other countries — food, traditional activities, decorations, etc. — and plan a party themed around them. Your kids will get to learn about their friends from all over the world, and you may even find a few new traditions to add to your family's celebration!
Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at email@example.com.