Bubbly Jell-O Parfaits
Grab a spoon and toast the New Year with a cool, sparkly dessert that wiggles.
1. Make bubbly Jell-O according to the directions on a box of Sparkling White Grape Jell-O. Be sure to use club soda, seltzer, or ginger ale and follow the tips on the box for getting the gelatin to sparkle.
2. Chill the Jell-O in champagne flutes or parfait glasses. We suggest making these the day of the party, since they might lose some bubbliness if they’re made further ahead. Wind a metallic multicolored star garland (available at party stores) up the stem of the glass for pizzazz.
Celebrate New Year’s or any special occasion with Confetti Cake.
1 1-pound box angel food cake mix
1/4 cup colored candy sprinkles
FROSTING INGREDIENTS AND DECORATIONS:
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
8 teaspoons cold water
2 cups whipping cream (unwhipped)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 decorative cake sprays (available at party stores)
Wire star garland (available at party stores)
1 sheet of shiny or metallic colored paper (for year star)
Follow the directions on the cake mix box, but just before pouring the batter into the tube pan, add the sprinkles.
Mix them quickly and gently with as few strokes as possible and pour the batter into the pan immediately. If you mix and pour too slowly, the colors may bleed and color the surrounding batter.
Make the frosting right before you plan to apply it so that it doesn’t set. For best results, apply the frosting, sprinkles, and decoration no more than an hour before serving.
Combine the gelatin and water in a small saucepan.
Let it stand until thick.
Set the pan over low heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin dissolves.
Don’t let it boil, as that would reduce the gelling power of the gelatin.
Remove the gelatin from the heat. While it cools a bit, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl.
Whip them with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens slightly.
Gradually pour the liquid gelatin (don’t let it set) into the whipped cream mixture and continue to beat at slow speed until blended. Then whip it at high speed until it’s stiff and peaks form when you lift the beaters.
Frost the completely cooled cake with a generous, fluffy layer, making swirls and peaks as you go.
Add confetti (colored sprinkles) and the sparkly year decoration. (Tip: We applied the sprinkles to the sides of the cake by lightly tossing them against the frosting. After we stuck our store-bought metallic sprays entwined with a star garland into the cake, we cut a 2-inch star out of paper, wrote the year numerals on it, and taped it to the sprays.) Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Fun Festive Hats
You can count on our shiny hats to make the ideal toppers for a New Year’s party, but there’s no reason to confine them to the countdown. Tailor the decorations to the mood and theme of your holiday party: glue on large menorah-shaped sequins (available at party supply stores) or festoon the hats with mini candy canes. Note: not all these materials are required to make each hat.
To make a cone-shaped hat, cut a semicircle with a 14-inch diameter from the poster board. Roll it into a cone, adjust its size to fit the child, and seal the seam with double-sided foam tape.
To make a chin strap, use the thumbtack to poke a hole through each side of the hat near the bottom, thread one end of the elastic through each hole, and knot a few times to secure it.
To make a headband-style hat, cut out a strip of poster board about 26 inches long and 3 to 7 inches wide (depending on your design). Cut a decorative design along one edge of the strip, fit it around the child’s forehead, and secure the seam with two large paper clips.
To decorate the hats, wrap pipe cleaners around pom-poms to make antennae or coil them around a pen to make spirals. To attach a pipe cleaner decoration to the hat, use the thumbtack to poke a hole through the hat, push 1 inch of the pipe cleaner through the hole to the inside of the hat, and duct-tape it down. Attach pom-poms to the hat with double-sided foam tape.
Help your child recycle empty ribbon spools into colorful noisemakers for New Year’s Eve.
Dried peas or beans
For each one, first see if the holes in the sides of your ribbon spool are covered by the ribbon’s labels. If so, use a pencil to poke through the label over 1 of the holes; if not, cover 1 hole with masking tape.
Next, pour a handful of dried peas or beans into the spool through the open hole, then seal the hole with tape.
Coat the shaker with acrylic paint, let it dry, then decorate it with colorful stickers.
Ring in the new year with a project that your child can bank on: a custom container that lets him save up for something he really wants.
Have your child decorate an empty coffee can with images of what he pines for. Then cut a slot in the lid that’s large enough to accommodate coins and folded bills. Make the first deposit to get him started.
On New Year’s Eve, invite your kids to write a letter to their future selves. They can list their favorite things (books, songs, ice-cream flavors, TV shows, foods, colors, animals, games) and make predictions (how tall will they be in a year?).
Pack away the letters with the holiday decorations so that they’ll be out of sight but easy to find next year. On December 31, 2010, have your kids open their letters and see how much their tastes have changed — or haven’t!