For parents with young children, New Year’s Eve can present a dilemma: Shell out extra for a babysitter so you can go out or stay home with them and sit on the couch, watching the ball drop on TV in Times Square.

If you’d like to try something different this year, consider hosting a family New Year’s Eve party. Here are some tips for a fun evening with friends and kids:

Celebrate New Year’s on East Coast time. Ok, so the New Year starts at midnight, but that’s awfully late to keep the kids up. Celebrate at 9 p.m. instead. Get some party hats and noisemakers and enjoy shouting “Happy New Year” at a more reasonable hour.

Have the kids come in their pajamas. This makes it feel more like a special late night party for them and if they fall asleep on the ride home, they’re already dressed for bed.

Make it a potluck. If you’re having a few families over, that can add up to a lot of food to prepare. Ask everyone to bring something they and their kids will enjoy so you don’t have to stress out about their food preferences.

Maybe potluck isn’t your thing. You could also order in from a local restaurant. Pizza, pasta, Chinese or Thai food are all great choices for a party. Things that give picky eaters some choices are a good idea.

If you’ve got a fire pit or a chiminea in your back yard make it a bonfire party. We’re lucky enough to have warm weather predicted for the weekend. Sitting around a fire making s’mores and toasting marshmallows can be a fun way to celebrate with kids. Just make sure an adult is watching the fire at all times.

Kids like festive drinks just as much as the adults. Plastic wine glasses with sparkling juice give kids something fun to toast the New Year while their parents are sipping bubbly. Or make a hot chocolate bar where kids can choose marshmallows, whipped cream or sprinkles for their drinks.

It’s a good idea to have some activity planned for your young guests. A karaoke machine or a dancing video game can provide tons of entertainment and even get kids moving. If you don’t have those, pre-selecting a party play list with music parents and kids can enjoy together can work just as well.

Ask kids and adulst to go around in a circle and make a New Year’s resolution. Make one silly and one serious. You might be surprised at what they come up with.

All this partying may make your guests rowdier than you would like. Have a DVD on hand for some quiet time for the kids and adults. Choose something that will appeal to the broadest age range of kids you will have so that none of them are either bored or too scared to watch.

If the whole nighttime party with kids idea sounds too complicated, have an open house during the afternoon. Get a jump on the festivities by starting after lunch. Wrap up before dinner and you can host without preparing a formal meal. Just put out appetizers and drinks and enjoy your guests.

Children love to mark the passage of time. For them a year is impossibly long. Let them participate in your New Year’s celebrations and make it into an event that you can enjoy with your children and your friends.

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