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.
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 17 activities to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids.
1 Host A Party At Home
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. If you’re in need of decor and food ideas, A Pretty Life In The Suburbs has a plethora of tips for
hosting a NYE party at home. 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, make a
New Year’s Eve crockpot meal, 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
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. 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 kids 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 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. 8 Have A Game Night
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. 9 Make A Resolution Tree NoSystem images/E+/Getty Images
Pull double-duty by taking the Christmas ornaments off of your tree on New Year’s Eve 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.
10 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. 11 Have A Midnight Balloon Drop
If you want to make balloons rain down from the ceiling at midnight 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. 12 Pamper Yourselves
New Year, new you, right? End the year with an at-home spa night with your kids. 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. 13 Have A Movie Marathon
One tried and true way to spend an entire evening on New Year’s Eve 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. 14 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. 15 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. 16 Create A 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 2022.
17 Watch 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. Then, if you’re staying up until midnight, switch over to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and watch the ball drop live in Times Square.