If you’re a parent with a toddler or young children, New Year’s Eve parties are probably off the table, right? Unless you’re rolling in cash and willing to be pay a premium for a New Year’s Eve babysitter, or you’re lucky enough to have cooperative grandparents, a night on the town is probably out of the question.
And to be honest, once I hit my 30s, even if I could have I didn’t want to. Truth be told, with two young kids who I know will be up far earlier than I’d like the next morning, I’d rather not stay up to the wee hours anyway. So is all the fun over then? No! Here are 20 ideas for celebrating a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve at home.
- Host a New Year’s Eve fancy dinner at home. Dress up in something sparkly and eat dinner off the good dishes. (If you’re like me they’re probably still out from Christmas dinner anyway.) Sparkling cider makes a fantastic mocktail.
- Celebrate the New Year earlier. This one’s a bit of a cheat, but most of the younger set won’t be able to make it to midnight anyway. How about a countdown to 8pm instead? The kids still get to count down, and there’s plenty of time to put them to bed afterward and ring in the New Year again at midnight. (I’ve also seen this done as Noon Year’s Eve.)
- Let Netflix help you count down to “midnight” on demand. As in years past, Netflix is streaming a selection of 2-3 minute NYE countdowns featuring characters from favourite kids’ shows like All Hail King Julien, Spirit Riding Free, Skylanders Academy, Beat Bugs, Tales of Arcadia, and Fuller House. Search for “countdowns” to find their collection of fun character countdowns for December 31st. This way you can count down to the New Year at any time and tuck the kids into bed early.
- Have a dance party and cut loose!
- Set up a juice bar with fruit juices, sparkling water, orange slices, maraschino cherries, and whatever else you can think of for some mixology fun. Serve your drinks in plastic champagne flutes from the dollar store for an extra touch of elegance.
- Make it a retro New Year’s party. Dig out that old maxi skirt or slip dress and party like it’s 1999! Or like it’s the 80s! Or whatever year, really. Dressing up is fun at any age.
- Go outside and bang on those pots with a wooden spoon at the stroke of midnight! This was my favourite part of New Year’s Eve as a kid. When else is it perfectly acceptable for your offspring to be as loud and obnoxious as possible?
- Have a pyjama party. That way even if the kids pass out before midnight, they’re already dressed for bed and all you have to do is carry them there.
- Better yet, have a family sleepover in the living room. Lay out your sleeping bags and eat s’mores. Leave them where they are when they fall asleep.
Watch a New Year movie. Here are some kid-friendly suggestions:
- Set up a make your own banana split/sundae bar – ice cream, bananas, caramel and fudge, nuts, and all the fixings.
- Make some confetti balloons! No need to buy them. Just use a funnel to fill some balloons with a couple of handfuls of recycled confetti then blow them up with helium or a hand pump (you don’t want to inhale the confetti). Let the kids pop them at midnight for some indoor fireworks!
- Have a card game night, complete with pretzels and ginger beer!
- Make a time capsule. Fill a shoebox with various items, photos, and drawings chosen by each family member to remember the passing year. Opening it back up can be part of your celebrations next year!
- Make your own New Year’s Eve party hats. Get the kids to decorate a sheet of blank paper or construction paper with markers, crayons, stickers, and/or glitter then roll it into a cone. Glue the edges together and trim the bottom. Tape some ribbon on each side to tie it on and voilà!
- Older kids can join in on some video game fun. Mario Kart or Mario Party are great family-friendly games.
- Write down your New Year’s resolutions and save them for next year. Younger children will need help with this but they can still think of things they’d like to do in the new year.
- Karaoke, anyone?
- Pick up some glow sticks and let the kids light up the night!
- Organize a New Year’s Eve hunt! Hide small treats like gold chocolate coins (symbolizing good fortune for the New Year) and set the kids loose to find them all.
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