New Year's Eve parties

New Year's celebrations evolve as kids get older

Here’s what you want to avoid — your teen at a rowdy party that includes underage drinking and who knows what else. Here’s what your teens want to avoid — a boring New Year’s Eve spent hanging out with parents and their equally boring friends. Is there a way to make everyone happy?

Some teens, of course, don’t mind being part of family events. Linda Clement of Victoria says her family usually spends New Year’s Eve at a Chinese restaurant. “We started going when the girls were three and five,” she says (her daughters are now 15 and 17) “and they still enjoy it. The local one we used to walk to is long gone, but we’ve found a new one. Sometimes it is just our family, and sometimes we have other relatives and friends as well.”

But if your teen is ready to branch out from family celebrations, there are safe but fun options. And there are many communities that are trying to help parents and teens resolve this dilemma. Surrey, BC, offers an official First Night event for youth and families, supported by corporate sponsors. At a cost of $10 per person, teens enjoy live music played by popular groups or share a snack with friends, in an alcohol-free setting. It’s paid off: “We’ve had zero problems with teens and drinking,” says Mary Kukavina, special events manager for the city. Sarnia, Ont., also offers New Year’s Eve activities for teens, including a tabletop hockey tournament, teen bands, skating, unicycle riding lessons — all at a cost of just two dollars.

Be sure to check out other possibilities — local zoos, churches, museums, theatres or restaurants may have an event that appeals to your child. Science North, the science museum in Sudbury, Ont., has a New Year’s Eve Family Fun event, for example.
Has your teen been invited to a party at a friend’s house? Give the parents a call to make sure there will be adult supervision — and ask about plans for transporting the guests home at the end of the event. Or maybe your teen would like to host a New Year’s Eve party (with your help and supervision, of course). Some activities you could try (check with your own child first to see if these appeal to his friends):

Who remembers 2011? Cut out pictures from old magazines or print some from the Internet that show significant events (either national or local) from the year gone by — one for each month. Post these around the room, and give the teens paper and pencils to write down their guesses about the month in which each event happened. The person who gets the most right wins a prize.

Resolution charades Each person writes down one or more New Year’s resolutions, each one on a separate piece of paper. Mix them up in a bowl and have everyone take one or more out of the bowl. Then each person has a turn to act out the resolution, while everyone else guesses what is being acted out and who made the resolution. No winners or losers, but lots of fun.

Movie marathon Got a group of Spider-Man, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings fans? Or even a group of devoted anime fans? They might enjoy a movie marathon party, watching one after the other. Encourage them to come in costume.

Oh, and make sure you have plenty of food. Be sure to turn on the TV in time for everyone to take part in the big countdown and make a lot of noise when midnight arrives. Welcome, 2012.

Resolutions for teens

Making resolutions can be fun. Consider creating a time capsule to store lists of everyone’s resolutions (throw in Mom’s and Dad’s too) that you put away with your holiday decorations and bring out again next year to see how well everyone did. It’s fine to have some serious ones (watch only one hour of TV a day) and some ambitious ones (get my math grade from a C to an A), but include fun ones too (try a new kind of chocolate bar every month; teach our family dog two new tricks).