What to Do With The Kids When You Go Out on New Year’s Eve

Readers — This may sound insane to some, but to me it sounds beyond fun. Happy New Year! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: In honor of the upcoming holiday, I wanted to share with you my memory of my favorite New Year’s eve growing up. This was in the late 70’s, growing up in a typical suburban neighborhood. All the parents on our street gathered for a New Year’s eve party at one of the family’s homes, and instead of hiring babysitters, they decided to let all of us kids have our own party.

About 20 kids, ages 7 to mid teens, gathered in the basement rec room of a neighbor’s home, had some snacks and soda, got out a ton of toys, put the top 40 countdown on the radio and proceeded to have a great time totally unsupervised by any adults, while all of our parents were having their own party several houses down. No one got injured, killed, kidnapped, drunk, arrested, or kidnapped by aliens. We all got to stay up til midnight, we had a blast and we felt grown up. Our parents had fun at their party, they knew where their kids were, and no one had to pay for a babysitter. Win-win! – Beth


Woo-hoo! Here's to a Free-Range 2014!

Woo-hoo! Here’s to a Free-Range 2014!


12 Responses to What to Do With The Kids When You Go Out on New Year’s Eve

  1. Donna December 31, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Sounds like a lot of fun.

    This year, I decided not to hire a babysitter to attend a Christmas party 3 houses away so I left my 8 year old home alone to eat junk food and watch TV while I went. She knew where I was and could easily walk to reach me but we only have a cell phone that was with me so she couldn’t call. I was gone for 3-4 hours.

    The best part of the story is that the people throwing the party are young. They are not yet parents and their friends who have kids are all on their first who are infants or toddlers. I knew that my friends would be cool with this. They are going to be free range if they ever have kids (thanks in good part to several years of watching me and their martyr-complex siblings parent and liking my style a whole lot better). I worried about outrage among their friends who I don’t know well and got absolutely none. They were very accepting and open to the idea of free range kids. It was great and hopefully there will be several new free range families as the kids grow.

  2. Sharon Davids December 31, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    the best party I ever went to was when I was 12 a mom threw a sleepover for 10 and 12 year old girls. Most of us had younger siblings. She left a 20 year old nursing student in charge (an older sibling of the party girl). All the other parents went out to dinner. We were loud inside and outside but no one cared. I have a small scar on my wrist from that date but it was a pleasant memory. I am alive 35 years later to talk about it.

  3. kate December 31, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    1975 First First night in Boston! We spent New Years eve with the same family every year. When I was 11 and the oldest kid, the parents sent the four of us out on the bus and subway to Boston. We were all veteran riders by then, Leonore. We negotiated our way to Boston, decided which events to attend, saw the ice sculptures and finally walked to the waterfront to watch the fireworks at midnight. Had a great time and made it home safely by subway and bus way past midnight!

  4. BL December 31, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    So now a nefarious child abductor could go to one house and abduct 20 children at once? Are you sure you’ve thought this through, Beth?

  5. Mark Roulo December 31, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    So now a nefarious child abductor could go to one house and abduct 20 children at once? Are you sure you’ve thought this through, Beth?

    I’m trying to imagine “The Ransom of Red Chief” where our hapless kidnappers have 20 kids to ransom …

  6. Stephanie December 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    We’re having a friend of my daughter’s over. This actually slows things down, unfortunately, as the friend has behavioral issues, and much sugar at all is a really bad idea. Not a child I’d leave in the house alone with my kids even during the day. Next year, we’ll probably try a night out, no friends over for the kids, or only very trustworthy ones (that would be most of them).

  7. Rachel December 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Speaking from personal experience, it’s a lot less fun if the kid party in the basement of same house where the adults are partying.

  8. exmish December 31, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    No joke: today on the police scanner feed for my county, there was a call that said something like “Teen is supposed to attend NYE party with parents, no longer wants to go but wants to go somewhere else. Parents don’t know what to do. PD en route.”


  9. Reziac December 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    No one gets *kidnapped* by aliens. Abducted, perhaps, but not kidnapped — when did you ever hear of aliens asking for ransom? 😉

  10. Timothy Cooke December 31, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    …What? Please tell me this is a joke. Please. They actually sent out police for that?

  11. Emily December 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. The older kids (mid-teenagers) at the kids’ New Year’s Eve party were the de facto babysitters. In another year or two, they’ll be old enough for the adult party, and the next-oldest of the kids will become the babysitters.

  12. pentamom January 1, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    It’s possible the dispatcher didn’t report all the details over the scanner — maybe the kid punched his parents out or was threatening them somehow? Otherwise, that’s ridiculous. But I wouldn’t conclude from what’s not there, that it’s necessarily ridiculous.