Some people think of New Year’s Eve as a time to kick off the new year ahead, but I prefer to think of it as one big, lavish last hurrah of the holiday season. It’s the official end of glittery lights everywhere, gifts galore, and a hum of general merriment everywhere you go, so it makes sense to wrap it all up with a shiny, festive bow in the form of a
memorable celebration. Even when you have little ones, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids so that you can end the year on a high note.
Yes, you can still have all of the excitement of traditional NYE party, even if you’re celebrating with children in tow — it just might look more like family game night in than a glitzy and glamorous evening out on the town. In the spirit of the season, you can make crafts that reflect your family’s year, make resolutions together, watch
countdown celebrations on TV, or even head outdoors to enjoy your family’s favorite winter activities like ice skating. Tips on celebrating New Year’s Eve with toddlers
While many ideas on this list are toddler-appropriate, there are some extra things to take into consideration when celebrating New Year’s with a little one who has an earlier bed time. Unlike a celebration with older kids who are unlikely to be as cranky if they stay up late, watching the ball drop with toddlers may require just a bit more planning.
These tips can help you celebrate New Year's Eve with toddlers:
Celebrate at home — or close enough that you can get there quick if your toddler starts to melt down near bedtime. Schedule high-energy activities (like an epic dance party) earlier in the day. Use the time before bedtime to wind down with your toddler. Stream a New Year's Eve ball drop for toddlers or watch a countdown early, so you don’t have to worry about them staying up too late. Consider using a sound machine to help toddlers sleep while everyone else stays up.
Whether you trade your cocktail dress for some cozy pajamas or throw your own kid-friendly bash at home, you can get ready for a night fit for making memories with these activities to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids.
1 Host a party at home Jasmin Merdan/Moment/Getty Images
If you can’t take your kids to the party, bring the party to you. My favorite New Year’s Eve celebration as a kid was the year my parents threw a big party with all of their friends at our house. (It was Y2K, by the way, so the thinking was that if we were doomed, at least we were all together.)
Have your friends bring their kids over and set up a designated “kids zone” with plenty of games, snacks, toys, and even screens to keep everyone happy and entertained all night long.
2 Celebrate “noon” year’s eve
If you have especially little kids, you might not actually want them to stay up until midnight. It throws off their sleep schedule, which is fun for exactly no one. If this is the case, go ahead and ring in the New Year early with your kids. Set the clocks back a few hours, flip on a special
Netflix countdown for kids that you can stream anytime, and enjoy a blissful early bedtime on New Year’s Eve. 3 Set up a fancy family dinner
Break out the good china, pour sparkling cider into crystal goblets (everyone has those right?), and set up a grand tablescape to really celebrate with your kids. Whether you make all of your family’s favorite dishes or order takeout, it’s so much fun to have everyone dress up in their fanciest attire for a festive family dinner.
4 Have a sleepover
If you’re looking for a way to how to celebrate NYE at home, a sleepover might just fit the bill. Look, if your kids are going to insist on staying up all night anyway when their friends spend the night, you might as well plan to let them have a sleepover on New Year’s Eve. It just makes sense.
Invite a few of your kid’s friends over to spend the night and enjoy watching a NYE countdown together on TV with plenty of snacks. Bonus: Their parents will be eternally grateful for a kid-free night and
hopefully return the favor next year. 5 Make a New Year’s bucket list
End the season of “making a list and checking it twice” by making one last list with your kids to celebrate New Year’s Eve. This is one idea that’s perfect for a kids' early New Year's Eve celebration because you can create your list anytime on Dec. 31.
First, reflect on all of the fun you had this year, and then, dream up ways to spend the next. Make a bucket list filled with activities for your family to check off as you do them in the coming year.
You can include simple things like a picnic in the park or ordering pizza every Friday, as well as big things like taking a trip to the Grand Canyon. What you include can be totally unique to you and your kids.
6 Have a celebratory toast franckreporter/E+/Getty Images
No New Year’s Eve celebration is complete without a toast. (Rambling speeches that wax poetic about the year ahead are optional.) Even if you’re celebrating with a kids' early New Year's Eve celebration before the clock officially strikes midnight, you can still clink your glasses to the year together. For your kids, you can fill champagne flutes with sparkling cider, pour grape juice in pretty plastic cups, or
make kid-friendly mocktails to toast with. 7 Go on a family hike
Before you watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve,
take your kids on a hike. You can pick a location to hike that’s nearby or make it an event by camping overnight. Either way, pack up some snacks and hit the trails for a memorable activity to enjoy together this New Year’s Eve. 8 Go ice skating
If you and your kids want to cap off a fun-filled year with a special, seasonal activity, an ice skating outing is the perfect choice. This can be a great tradition to start when your kids hit the age where they can confidently take to the rink. This way, it’s not so much about learning how to ice skate, but something you can actually all enjoy together to ring in the new year.
9 Have a game night
Wondering how to celebrate NYE at home without staring at the TV all night waiting for the ball drop? Break out the board games for a family game night to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids. If you’re settling in for the long haul until midnight, have everyone pick their favorite game and play them all. You can also play
old school parlor games that are easy-to-execute and don’t require any supplies like charades or 20 questions.
To put a fun twist on your celebration, set up a
Zoom game night with friends or family who don’t live nearby if you want to ring in the New Year together. 10 Make a resolution tree NoSystem images/E+/Getty Images
Whether you’re celebrating NYE with toddlers or big kids, a resolution tree can be a fun kids' early New Year's Eve celebration to do before it’s bedtime. Pull double-duty by taking the Christmas ornaments off of your tree and replace them with resolutions that you and your kids make. You can simply write them on notecards and attach with string, or get fancy and decorative and use craft supplies.
11 Make a time capsule
One way to commemorate your year as a family is to
build a time capsule together. Fill it with tangible mementoes from the year like photos, movie ticket stubs, a concert program, newspaper pages, or really anything that will spark memories later on. You can also write down your family’s favorites from the year — movies, TV shows, songs, games — that you’ll want to look back on one day. 12 Make crafts together
One of the more obvious ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home with kids is to take something they enjoy doing, like crafting, and give it a NYE twist. Whether you make some cute
snowflake crafts with your toddlers or have older kids create place cards for your New Year’s Day dinner, an evening spent making crafts at home is a wonderful way to ring in the new year. 13 Have a NYE balloon drop
Planning a New Year's Eve ball drop for toddlers? A NYE balloon drop is the perfect idea. If you want to make balloons rain down from the ceiling to celebrate New Year’s Eve with your kids, you can order a
balloon drop bag for the occasion from Amazon. Alternatively, a sheet tacked to the ceiling with sturdy tape on the corners, a string to pull, and balloons inside actually works well as a DIY balloon drop option. When it’s time to ring in the new year, let your kids pull on the string for a fun, celebratory moment. 14 Have a balloon pop countdown
Another way to have a New Year's ball drop for kids is with a balloon pop countdown. At the beginning of the day, blow up enough balloons to pop one every hour until midnight. (Or, your version of midnight if you’re planning a NYE ball drop for toddlers.) The thrill of getting to pop one balloon every hour will help time fly by until it’s time for the real ball drop.
15 Pamper yourselves at home on NYE
New Year, new you, right? End the year with an at-home spa night with your kids. Stock up on
kid-safe beauty products, give each other manicures and pedicures, put on a spa-style face mask, make a DIY beauty treatment — the works. You can really go all out because, well, you have all night. 16 Have a movie marathon
For parents who are wondering how to celebrate NYE at home, one tried and true way to spend an entire evening together as a family is to have a movie marathon. Whether you opt to close out the year with a final viewing of your family’s favorite
kid-friendly holiday movies, or choose to watch winter movies without a holiday-theme, anything goes. The point is just to spend your entire New Year’s Eve watching great movies together. 17 Set up a photo booth
Ring in the New Year and create lasting memories when you set up a photo booth on New Year’s Eve with your kids. You can order some fun
photo booth props from Amazon or make your own photo frame with your kids by decorating some poster board or cardboard. Use a sheet, hanging streamers, or even just a solid wall as your background and see how many silly poses you can come up with. 18 Have an epic dance party
What better way is there to end the year than with a fun, disco-style dance party? You can make a night of it by having your kids help create their ideal
dance party playlist filled with all of their favorite tunes before you get started. (But don’t forget to add some of your faves, too so you can party like it’s 1999!) Then, move your living room furniture out of the way to create a dance floor, turn down the lights, and see who has the best moves. 19 Create a NYE slide show
Have your kids help you select their favorite photos from the year. Then, put them together in a slide show set to your family’s favorite tunes. You can watch it together on New Year’s Eve for a fun look back on the year as you ring in the new year.
20 Watch NYE celebrations from across the globe
Countries around the world actually celebrate the New Year earlier than in the states, so it’s fun to stream their celebrations and watch the year switch over. You can use a site like EarthCam to
see celebrations across the globe. This is a great idea for anyone wanting to celebrate the New Year's Eve ball drop for toddlers because they won’t feel like they missed out on the fun. Then, for anyone staying up until midnight, you can switch over to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and watch the ball drop live in Times Square in New York City.
Whether you watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop early with toddlers or throw an epic New Year’s Eve party at home with kids, these ideas can inspire your celebration and help set the tone for the amazing year ahead.
This article was originally published on
Dec. 20, 2021