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Celebrate New Year’s Eve With the Kids

Whether you can’t find a sitter for New Year’s Eve or you 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. We’ve gathered a few family-friendly ideas to help you ring in 2019!

Count down the hours - There are so many fun ways to help your kids mark the time until the New Year arrives. Choose the time you want to start (and end!) and count down the hours by opening a bag, a package, or even popping a balloon. Mark each bag with the time and include a fun activity for each hour that has passed. This activity need not be expensive.

Here are some ideas of what to stuff the bags with:

  • Party hats and noisemakers
  • Party poppers
  • Candy
  • A deck of cards and game instructions
  • Pens and paper to write New Year’s resolutions
  • Craft projects
  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles

Milk and 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 the sprinkles onto a separate plate. Dip the rims of glasses in honey or corn syrup, and then dredge in the sprinkles. (Leave the glass upside down in the sprinkles for a few minutes so the sprinkles don’t slide down the glass!) Cool the glasses in the fridge, fill with cold milk, and then serve with cookies.

DIY noisemakers - Create DIY noisemakers for the midnight celebration 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 the shakers. Or thread large jingle bells onto pipe cleaners, and then twist the pipe cleaner together at the ends for a jingle bracelet.

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 (use plastic confetti, not paper). When the 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.

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 (or similar candy) as clock hands to mark the time.

Balloons, balloons, balloons - It’s not a party without balloons, right? Confetti-filled balloons will brighten up your space. (Available to purchase on Amazon.) You can then pop the balloons at midnight for a confetti shower; 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.

Photo booth - Even if it’s just you and the kiddos, why not have a photo booth? No need for an elaborate setup; tacking up a sheet or plastic tablecloth to a 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. (Available to purchase on Amazon.)

Christmas Crackers - Christmas Crackers may be traditional for Christmas dinner but they’re equally as fun to use 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 Christmas Crackers have a description on the back of the box).

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: Children’s handprints, a family picture, and a written down interview; questioning your kids about their current likes and dislikes, life goals, and more is fun in the moment and fun to look back on next year. Google ‘interview questions for kids’ for ideas on what questions to ask - some bloggers offer printable Q-and-A forms. Once finished, tuck away your time capsule and open next year.

New Years Eve picture books - The night can get long, so 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 Years by Natasha Wing
  • The kids want to stay up until midnight, but can they make it? Squirrels New Years Resolution by Pat Miller
  • A fun way to explain New Year’s resolutions to children: Shanté Keys and the New Years 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!

Tiffany is a freelance writer, and the mother of three children. Her work has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Christian Science Monitor, Brain, Child, Motherly, and over 70 regional parenting magazines across the US and Canada. This article was originally published in 



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