Besides the standard fare of board games, movies or cards, add a little flair to your festivities with some of these fun alternatives:
Take a dip
Host a fondue party. Browse your favorite cookbook or website for oil, cheese and chocolate fondue recipes. Ask your guests to bring dipping items such as small pieces of chicken and beef, French bread cubes, and fruit sections suitable for dipping. Fire up the fondue and simmer the night away. You can make a game of it — whoever loses a piece of food from his or her fondue fork has to sing a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne."
Hit the scrapbooking section of your favorite store this weekend and stock up on supplies. Don't forget printer ink and paper. You can spend New Year's Eve with the family looking through files and printing out your favorite images from the past year. Then let your creativity cascade onto the page as you paste your past on paper.
Prior to your New Year's Eve gathering, ask each guest to learn two simple magic or card tricks from a book or the Internet. Pick up a couple of $1 scratch-off lottery tickets. When the big night comes, set up chairs for the “audience” and take turns performing. At the end, vote on the best trick. The winner receives the lottery tickets as a prize. Let's hope the magic continues!
You blew it
Stretch the mouth of balloons and insert a small kitchen funnel. Pour a small handful of confetti into the funnel and let it slide in. Inflate the balloon as usual. At the stroke of midnight, pop the party pieces and let the fluff flow.
Not for night owls
If you or the little ones struggle to keep your eyes open until the ball drops, here's a fun alternative. Pick a country in an earlier time zone, and then do some research on the web to find recipes and music from your country of choice. Serve up the country-themed meal with the appropriate background music. As the clock strikes 12 there, pop the corks and celebrate. Who cares if it's still light out? You can already be dreaming sweetly as the rest of Northwest Ottawa County continues the end-of-year countdown.
It's Greek to you
Honor the Greek tradition by making vasilopita, a traditional New Year's cake. You can search the web for the authentic recipe to make the sweet treat from scratch, or use any boxed cake mix as an American alternative. Either route you take, here's what to do before you bake: Wrap a coin or charm in foil. Hide it in the batter after you pour it into the cake pan. Bake as directed. Slice and eat the vasilopita at midnight. According to lore, whoever receives the piece with the treasure will encounter good luck all year.
If skies are clear, head outside for an after-midnight walk to see some real shimmer and glitz. If you happen to have a smartphone, download a star map app. That way, you can hold your phone to the sky and it will show you what constellations and planets you're looking at, based on your orientation and time of night. There's an added bonus to this activity — chances are someone in your area will light off fireworks to welcome 2013. You may be lucky enough to catch two sky shows at once.
Homemade mock champagne
If you're looking for champagne-like taste without the alcohol, try mixing white grape juice with lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.
For a vitamin C-filled champagne imposter, stir two-thirds cup of sugar into two-thirds cup of water. Pour into a punch bowl and add 1 cup grapefruit juice, 1 cup pulp-less orange juice, one-quarter cup grenadine and a 2-liter bottle of ginger ale. Chill. Yummy.
Have some household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.