Whether you couldn't find a sitter for New Year's Eve or you just don't feel like fighting holiday traffic, you can still have a fun, kid-friendly celebration. The key is to keep the kids occupied as the clock counts down and celebrate a little earlier in the day. We've gathered a few family friendly ideas to help you ring in the new year.
1. Countdown the hours
There are so many fun ways to help kids mark time until the new year arrives. Pick the time you want to start (and end!) and count down the hours by opening a bag, package or even popping a balloon. Mark each bag with the time and include a fun activity for each hour. This need not be expensive. Here are some ideas of what to stuff the bags with:
2. Create DIY noisemakers
Create DIY noisemakers for midnight from objects around the house. Decorate empty, lidded canisters such as butter containers, coffee cans, Pringles cans, etc., and add dried beans or rice to make shakers. Or thread large jingle bells onto pipe cleaners, then twist the pipe cleaner together at the ends for a jingle bracelet.
3. Entertain with sparkling science
Younger kids love to watch bubbles grow when vinegar is added to baking soda. You can glam up this simple science experiment by mixing glitter or confetti to the baking soda. To do this, mix together baking soda and glitter or confetti in a shallow bowl (be sure to use plastic confetti, not paper). When kids add drops of vinegar with droppers to the soda mixture, it will produce sparkling bubbles. If you don't have droppers, kids can pour small amounts of vinegar over the baking soda with cups.
4. Make milk + cookie cocktails
Every party needs snacks! Serve up milk and cookies in style by coating the rims of small glasses or even wine glasses with colorful sprinkles. Spread a thin layer of honey or corn syrup on a plate, and then pour out sprinkles onto a separate plate. Simply dip the rims of glasses in honey or corn syrup then dredge in the sprinkles. (Leave the glass upside down in the sprinkles for a few minutes so that the sprinkles don't slide down the glass!) Cool the glasses in the fridge or serve right away with cookies.
5. Bake a clock
If your kids love baking, a fun and delicious activity is to make a countdown clock. You can do this by baking cookies or cupcakes and arranging the treats in a circle on a round serving platter or pizza pan. Decorate each with the numbers of the clock and use licorice sticks such as Twizzlers as clock hands to mark the time.
6. Balloons, balloons, balloons
It's not a party without balloons, right? These confetti-filled balloons will brighten up your space, then you can pop them at midnight for a confetti shower! You can fill these with helium or not–either way, the kids will love them.
If you really want to wow the kids, stage your own balloon drop! You can make one by taping a plastic party tablecloth filled with balloons to your ceiling, or buy this kit.
7. Christmas crackers
Christmas crackers may be traditional for Christmas dinner but they're equally as fun for New Year's Eve. These brightly wrapped cylinders are pulled apart, breaking the cracker open with a popping sound. Be sure to check the prizes inside before purchase to get kid-friendly items (most boxes of crackers have a description on the back of the box).
Try this brand, which includes a party hat, jokes and stickers.
8. Photo booth
Even if it's just you and the kiddos, why not have a photo booth? No need for an elaborate set-up, tacking up a sheet or plastic tablecloth to the wall to use as a background works well. Gather fun props from around the house such as hats and sunglasses or buy a New Year's Eve photo booth prop set.
9. Family time capsule
Putting a time capsule together as a part of your New Year's Eve activities can be a nice way to reflect on the past year. This can be as simple or elaborate as you wish! Grab a shoebox or big manila envelope and gather your time capsule items. Ideas for what to include: your child's handprint, a family picture and an interview.
Questioning your kids about their current likes and dislikes, life goals, and more is fun in the moment and to look back on next year. Simply google "interview questions for kids" for ideas on what questions to ask—some bloggers even offer printable Q-and-A forms. Once finished, tuck away your time capsule and open next year. You can also buy a time capsule kit.
10. New Year's Eve picture books
The night can get long and a quiet break for story time is good for everyone. Try one of these holiday-themed books to balance out the activities.
- The Night Before New Year's by Natasha Wing
The kids want to stay up until midnight, but can they make it?
- Squirrel's New Year's Resolution by Pat Miller
A fun way to explain New Year's Resolutions to children.
- Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport
This book introduces kids to the way New Year's is celebrated in different cultures.
Whatever you choose to do with your family on the eve of the New Year, you can make sure it's memorable with these sure-fire party pleasers.
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