by Susan Stuck
Making plans for your New Year's Eve when you have a baby has a way of reminding you how much your life has changed.
Even if you could fit into that little cocktail dress, you know that it will be close to impossible to find a babysitter for the evening's revelries.
There's no need to despair over losing your pre-baby lifestyle; with a little planning you might find this New Year's Eve to be the most memorable one ever.
Choose from one of our available and fun options below to make your celebrations sparkle!
If your city sponsors a First Night celebration, check the schedule for afternoon/early evening activities and performances. First Night organizers have learned how to make events baby- and kid-friendly. Dress warmly, slip into comfortable shoes and bundle baby into the snuggly. If your little one squawks during the Baroque chorus at the church on Main Street, she might find the taiko drummers at the venue around the corner more soothing.
Remember all those movies you missed this year because life with baby got so very busy? Pop a big bowl of popcorn and cue up some flicks. The Hunger Games, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer, Magic Mike, What to Expect When You're Expecting and more are all out on DVD.
If you can't go out, bring the party to you. Organize a (small) dinner party. Feel free to schedule it early in the evening (remember – someone somewhere in the world will already be celebrating the New Year). Pick a main course like pot of a stew or gumbo that you can prepare ahead of time. Ask one guest to bring a big salad, and ask another to pick up a dessert. We've included a quick Creole Bean Gumbo for your convenience!
If you have enough room at your home, suggest that your friends and their kids sleep over. The beauty of a slumber party is that no one has to worry about driving home after watching the ball drop at Times Square. You'll also have a couple extra pairs of arms on hand to hold baby while you make coffee for everyone on the first morning of the 2013.
This tasty gumbo can be prepared a day or two in advance and store, covered, in the fridge and serves 6 people.
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large sweet onion, chopped
• 1 green pepper, diced
• 1 rib celery, tough strings removed, sliced
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 14.5-ounce (435-g) can Cajun-style stewed tomatoes, not drained
• 2 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra
• 1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
• 8 ounces Andouille sausage, diced
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 4 cups hot cooked rice
• Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, celery, thyme, oregano and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in okra, beans, sausage and a generous grinding of black pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
Serve over rice. Add Tabasco to taste.
Source for recipe: Healthy Living Kitchens
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.