New Year’s Eve becomes a whole other ball game once you have kids. For one thing, midnight is past most kid’s bedtimes. Gone are the wild, all-nighter parties and 24-hour hangovers. The New Year holiday changes when you involve the whole family in it, but it can still be a lot of fun.
Parents who consider New Year’s Eve an adult-only holiday tuck in the kids early and spend some quality time with adult relatives and friends. Yet, many parents choose to include their children in the festivities, doing something the entire family can enjoy on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
If you’re spending New Year’s Eve with your kids and don’t know what to do with them, check out these 10 ideas for a kid-friendly celebration. You’ll see it doesn’t take much to create New Year’s Eve memories that your family will cherish for the rest of their lives.
1. Get Fun Party Supplies and Decorate
Kids love shiny things, so what better time to fill their eyes with sparkle than New Year’s Eve? Hang Christmas lights, gold streamers and garlands. Get sparkly hats, tiaras, noisemakers and confetti cannons. Consider making some of these at home with the kids. Blow up balloons and ask them to draw on the balloons or write their wishes for the New Year.
2. Have a Mock Midnight
If your children are too young to stay up until midnight, or if you’re having an adults-only gathering, do a mock countdown with the kids a few hours earlier. Throw them their own New Year’s Eve party with music, snacks, dancing and games. Write the time on balloons and pop one every 10 minutes during the hour before “midnight,” or set up a bunch of alarms to go off a minute before “12.” Serve the kids sparkling cider or ginger ale and encourage each child to make a toast. It’s fun, and the kids go to bed happy that they got to participate in the tradition.
3. Throw a Family Slumber Party
Drag blankets, sleeping bags and pillows into the living room and set up camp for the night. Pitch a tent, if you have one, or make a fort with chairs and sheets. Watch movies, play board games, make popcorn or smores on the stove. At midnight, tune into the NYC Times Square ball drop and fireworks displays on TV or online.
4. Have a Piñata Ball Drop
Have your own ball drop at home on New Year’s Eve. Recruit the children to make a piñata modeled after the Times Square ball and decorate it with paint, glitter, sparkly beads, ribbons, bows and anything they like. At midnight, let the kids bang or rip it open to find candy and trinkets inside.
5. Dance the Night Away
You can throw a New Year’s Eve dance party in just a few steps. Make a playlist of your kids’ favorite music, hang colorful lights and a disco ball from the ceiling, fill the room with balloons, set up a table with punch and snacks, and move the furniture out of the way. Dress yourself and your kids in sparkly outfits, and dance until they drop. Hold a dance contest and give a little trophy or gift to the winner.
6. Make a New Year’s Eve Scrapbook
Spend some time on New Year’s Eve scrapbooking with the kids. Encourage the children to write about their accomplishments this past year and their resolutions for the coming year. Make sure you have enough scrapbooking supplies at hand and plenty of printed photos the kids can use to personalize their books or pages.
7. Dress Up and Have a Photo Shoot
Ask the kids to pick a theme and put some outfits together. You can dress like pirates, hippies, cowboys, Disney characters or glamorous people on their way to a fabulous ball. Buy or create a backdrop to make your own photo booth using paint or markers, cardboard and sheets. Dress up and take photos and videos of each other. Print the photos and add them to your New Year’s Eve scrapbook.
8. Play Games
What kid doesn’t love to play games? There are so many choices: board games, tag, hide and seek, puzzles, card games, bingo, hangman, treasure hunts, and games involving a variety of toys. Before you know it, it’s midnight (real or fake one), and you can ring in the New Year with your kids.
9. Watch Home Videos
This can be a wonderful yearly tradition. Gather all of the home videos you’ve filmed since the children were born—especially those filmed in the past year—and watch them together on New Year’s Eve. Don’t forget to film this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration so that you can watch it together at the end of the coming year. Do video interviews in which you ask the children about their experiences during the past year, including changes, accomplishments and favorite memories.
Give your kids the gift of experience by exposing them to another culture. Select a place that celebrates New Year’s Eve and research it online with the kids. Take pictures and videos on the way to the airport, at the airport, in the plane, etc. Immerse yourself and your family in that country’s New Year’s celebrations. Spending New Year’s in a new surrounding will give your kids a new perspective on life and the world. And that’s priceless.