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6 Ways for Young Children to Enjoy New Year’s Eve

Family celebrating New Year's Eve

Even though little kids might beg to stay up late on New Year’s Eve, it’s usually best to tuck them in at a reasonable hour. Who wants to deal with a meltdown at midnight? Here are some fun, simple, and exciting ways to bring in the New Year without battling sleep deprivation.

Photo Shoot with Props

Preserve this special night by snapping a ton of pictures. Invest in some fun New Year’s Eve photo props, complete with fake mustaches, glittery crowns, and wild glasses. Go all out by adding in some feather boas, dress-up clothes, funky shoes, and flashing earrings. Decorate a corner of your living room with balloons, streamers, and a home-made New Year’s banner, and you’re all set to go!

Afterward, select the best photos and create a photo book, print them out and make a collage, or save them for future gifts. You can also get an Instant Camera, one that will print off mini shots right away (talk about instant gratification!).

Game Night

Settling in for the night with some family games is the perfect way to ring in the New Year. Don’t forget your favorite snacks or a special dessert. Also, having a few prizes ready will really raise the bar.

  • New Year’s Bingo: You can make your own Bingo sheets, or download some free designs from Thirty Handmade Days.
  • Guess the Resolutions: Have everyone write out their resolutions on a small index card (one resolution per card). Mix them up and have one person read them out loud. Everyone has to guess who wrote which one. For more ideas, check out Mom Junction.
  • Photo Memory Game: Have fun reviewing some highlights of your previous year with this easy-to-make memory game. Read the instructions at No Time for Flash Cards.
  • Scavenger Hunt: You can easily make up your own list with random items around the house or download a specific New Year’s Eve scavenger list.
  • Classic card games: Who says you need a specific New Year’s Eve activity? Go ahead and introduce your kids to some classic card games, like Crazy Eights, Go Fish, and War. Here are 12 card games you can teach your kids.

Outdoor Fun

Getting outside is a great way to wear the kids out, allowing you to have a more mellow evening without them begging to stay up later and later.

Here are some options to explore:

  • Ice Skating: Fun for the whole family.
  • Sledding: It’s best if you find a big hill, letting them get some exercise by climbing up it multiple times.
  • Build a Snowman: If there’s snow, then get to work building stuff! If not, they can build a fort out of sticks.
  • Fireworks: There are often public displays of fireworks, usually earlier in the evening for kids to enjoy.
  • Bonfire: If you’re able to make a fire in your back yard, then bust out some marshmallows and enjoy the twinkling stars above.

New Year’s Eve Crafts

Keep those little hands busy with these fun-filled New Year’s Eve crafts.

  • Pipe cleaner crown and headband: All you need is some pipe cleaners and a headband. Read the full tutorial at Pink Stripey Socks.
  • Party shakers: Make some noise with these easy DIY shakers. You just need some recyclables (like yogurt cups), beads, ribbon, and a hot glue gun. Read the full tutorial at Teach Mama.
  • Confetti Popper Rockets: Have some fun setting off safe rockets inside the house! This is a great project for the whole family. Read the full tutorial at Alpha Mom.
  • Year in Review: Print a template, then get to work filling it out, adding stickers, photos, and drawings. Create a scrapbook of them over the years, looking back to relive memories.

TV & Movies

image from The Boss Baby's New Year's Eve Special

Snuggle up on the couch with a fresh bowl of popcorn, some hot cocoa, and any leftover Christmas cookies. It’s a great way to unwind together, plus with the lights dim (or off!), your kids are bound to settle down (or fall asleep!) well before midnight.

Here are some favorite movies for young children to enjoy:

Also, make sure to check out Netflix’s New Year’s countdown videos. Each video is around five minutes long and includes a Happy New Year countdown at the end. And the best part? They can be played ANY TIME of the day. This allows you to decide when the New Year should begin (really, when you want your kids to go to bed). You can find these videos by typing “countdown” in the Netflix search bar.

Pick Another Time Zone

Who says you have to celebrate the New Year in your current time zone? Why not celebrate a different country’s New Year’s Eve?

Pick a country that is a few hours ahead of your time zone. Then create a party based on that country—with crafts, decorations, foods, movies, and so on. You can even try to stream a live countdown for that country! (Really, this is a great way to sneak in a little geography lesson amongst the fun).

For example, London is five hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. So if you want your young children to do the official countdown at 7:00 p.m., then this is a perfect option! Here are some ideas on how to throw a London-themed party.

You can view the world map countdown now, seeing which countries/regions will celebrate the New Year first!

Getting ready for a new year is exciting and fun. Include the kids in the celebration, catering the evening to activities they can thoroughly enjoy. And then after they’re sufficiently worn out, you can crack open the champagne and begin party #2 (or crash out exhausted on the couch). Either way, we all wish you a very Happy New Year!

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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