New Year's meal traditions

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With a little planning and effort, you can start a new tradition for the New Year
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Start a new family tradition with a New Year's celebration

As holidays go, New Year's follows a season of celebrating that can often be frenzied and chaotic. At our house, we have fall and winter birthdays, too, so Halloween rolls into two birthdays, which roll into Thanksgiving, which rolls into another birthday, and then Christmas hits. New Year's comes along, and I am often at a loss for how to make the holiday memorable for my family. In the US, New Year's doesn't come with cultural traditions like the Chinese New Year does, but that doesn't mean we can't create our own New Year's meal traditions.


Remember the past


One way to commemorate the beginning of a new year is to talk about the year that just passed. When you plan your New Year's celebration, ask everyone attending to come prepared to share their favorite memory of the past year, with pictures, if possible. No matter what cuisine you decide to serve, you can have a nostalgic conversation over dinner, while you pass around pictures and remember the year that just passed.


Plan for the future


Another great dinner-table conversation topic is the upcoming year. Share the goals you have made. You don't have to call them resolutions if that word reminds you of past failures. Simply discuss the things about the New Year that you are looking forward to, and the plans you have for yourself. Plan a family vacation, or talk about the ideas you have for the upcoming year's holiday season.


Go international


When you plan the menu for your New Year's meal, you don't have to serve the same holiday fare that you've just enjoyed at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Start a New Year's tradition of experimenting with a different cuisine. is a great site to find recipes: search by Chinese, Mexican, or Italian. For something even more exotic, try Thai, Greek, or Russian. While enjoying these international foods, you can discuss the way other countries celebrate the New Year.


Take it easy


After the busy end-of-year holiday season, you may want something a little more casual and a little less work. Instead of going all out with the meal, why not do finger foods? Nachos, chips and dip, veggies and dip, cold cuts, fruit salad. Lots of sweet treats are a must, too. Use paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic silverware to avoid the clean up. Rent a couple movies that tickle your funny bone, like "What About Bob," or "Dennis the Menace." If you're in the mood for romance, "When Harry Met Sally" has a great New Year's scene. When it gets close to ringing in the New Year, turn on "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year" and watch the ball drop in Times Square. Have some bubbly or adult beverage of choice on hand to toast the occasion.


Creating New Year's meal traditions will take a little planning and a little work, but it will be worth it when your family and friends have the memory of a great New Year's celebration to last a lifetime.

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