Young kids may not grasp the concept of a New Year, but they understand the word PARTY!  Traditionally , New Years is adult-oriented with lots of restaurants and bars catering to the crowds.  And now GR residents can even stay up late and watch our own ball drop.  But are there kid-friendly New Years activities in town?  You bet!

Bounce Around from 10 to 7pm at the Blast Factory Indoor Inflatable Fun Center.  They now have two locations, one in Belmont and one in Kentwood (the old Bounce Party location.)

Skate and Create downtown at the GR Art Museum and Rosa Parks Circle.  10am – 3pm.  Start with a whirl around the ice (grab a skate and create coupon in the warming area or print one off here) and then drop into the GRAM studio to discover new paper folding techniques and create your own Japanese inspired fan. Decorate your creations with glitz and glam to ring in 2012.  Admission is only $2 to the GRAM with coupon.

Deana’s Playhouse in Holland is having a Family New Years Celebration from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Kids will ring in the New Year at 12:00 noon with a countdown and balloon fall, noisemakers & party hats, as well as an apple juice toast and goodies.  Also included are special arts and crafts and other New Year’s Activities.  $5 per person, children under 1 and all members free.

I’m not sure what a Horcrux has to do with New Year’s Eve, but I bet Harry Potter fans could come up with a connection.  At 1pm, scavenger hunters can help bid adieu to the Harry Potter’s World exhibit at the GR Public Main Library with a Horcrux Scavenger Hunt. Come see if you can conjure up the answers to the riddles and find each horcrux throughout the library. Free and open to the public.

Get rolling at Kentwood Fun Spot for their New Year’s Eve Skating Celebration.  Admission is $2 and Skate rental is $2 more.  The fun starts at 2pm and goes until 6pm and is followed by a New Years Eve Lockin ($25 admission) from 8pm to 2am.   Call 616.534.8106 for more information.

Craigs Cruisers is ringing in the New Year with 2 different parties.  Pick from a 4-8pm time session or 9pm-1am.  Both sessions include unlimited Indoor Go-Karts, Laser Tag, Bumper Cars, and more.  Music & Karaoke from 6pm to 1am. $24.99/person.  Tickets required.

The GR Griffins are in action on New Year’s Eve, making this the 15th year of their tradition.  Doors open at 5pm for the 6pm game and the first 2000 fans get a Griffins team poster.  Jerseys will also be auctioned off that night, and spectators will have a chance to eat at the New Years Eve buffet ($28pp, reservations required: 616.742.6453)  After the game you are invited to bring your skates and take to the ice and then watch West Michigan’s largest indoor firework display.

Every year the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum presents a New Year’s party fit for a kid.  With their early hours (6-8pm) it’s perfect for the younger set.  Kids decorate a party hat, make a fireworks picture, and countdown to the balloon drop at 7:30 pm.  This compliments the live DJ, dancing, snacks and drinks that all ages will adore.  Tickets are $10 pp and reservations are required.  616.235.4726 x204.

If your kids are 8-15, they’ll want to head to the Y’s Camp Manitou-Lin for a New Year’s Eve Slumber Party.  Pizza, games, indoor climbing, karaoke, a New Year’s Dance and Countdown all followed by a morning brunch ensure a child who will sleep away 1/1/12.  Busing available from downtown Y or SE YMCA.  $65.

If you’re looking for an overnight activity that stays in GR, then consider a New Year’s Eve Night at the Y.  David D. Hunting YMCA invites kids ages 5-14 to swim, play in the gym and on video games, watch big screen movies, have a pizza party and more.  Reservations required.  ($20 or $25 day of event.)  616.855.9622.

Or if you’re looking for a more private New Year’s Eve, take in the Fireworks over the Saugatuck Harbor at Midnight.

Whatever you decide to do, do it with those you love and make some memories.  And toss in a few kisses at midnight.  That’s a sure “eeew” generator if you’ve got a 7 year-old boy in the room.

Happy New Year from Melody at