11 New Year's Eve Activities For Families To Do When The Clock Strikes 12

Ad failed to load

New Year's Eve has always held a lot of expectations. The pressure to do something epic and memorable was exciting in the days I was single and free — a night I looked forward to planning with my friends each year. But after kids came on the scene, there were suddenly more factors to consider. Can I find a babysitter willing stay until after midnight? How early will these kids wake up the next morning? Staying home became the new normal, because it was easier. Luckily, there are plenty of fun New Year’s Eve activities for families that parents who choose to stay home can enjoy with their kids.

One of the best things about having a family New Year's Eve at home, is that you set the terms for the night. Your family can eat dinner in pajamas, play some games, share some New Year's resolutions, and have the little ones in bed by 10, giving you plenty of time to pop champagne (or go to bed yourself — no judgement here.)

Whatever you plan is, staying home together for New Year's Eve can be far from boring. Toss some surprises into the mix with traditions this year, and try out these 11 fun family activities for when the clock strikes midnight.

Ad failed to load

1Have A Countdown

Netflix US & Canada on YouTube

Want to bump-up the end of year countdown to way earlier than midnight? Login to Netflix and let the kids choose a countdown, hosted by their favorite characters — anytime on New Year's Eve night. They don't have to know it's only 9 o'clock.

2Host A Scavenger Hunt

Create a fun scavenger hunt around the house, and give kids clues to find where fun New Year's Eve items are hidden. Stash items like noise makers, sparklers, and plastic Champagne glasses (for sparkling apple cider, of course) around the house and leave a trail of cryptic clues for the kids to decode. To add some excitement, set a timer to see how fast they can complete the hunt.

3Create A Memory Jar

A few years ago, a friend told me about this tradition in her family and I have enjoyed doing it since. All you need is a large jar (or box), some scraps of paper, and a pen. Have everyone write down all of their favorite memories from the past year on the paper scraps, then share them with the family before placing them in the jar. Label the jar with the year and save in a safe place.

While you're at it, you can create one for the new year and add slips of paper with special events, milestones, and fun memories as they occur through the year. Then, on New Year's Eve, open up the jar and reminisce.

Ad failed to load

4Battle With Silly String

After the clock strikes 12, release any lingering energy with a Silly String battle. Head outside, hand everyone a can, and see who can escape without any string on them. Pick up this Silly String Spray Streamer, 12 pack ($24), and have enough for everyone to double fist.

5Make A Toast To The New Year

Raise a glass as a family and toast to the new year. Have everyone take a turn saying something they hope for the year to come — maybe a goal they hope to accomplish, a place they want to visit, or a fear they wish to overcome.

6Dance In The New Year

After the countdown has ended, crank up the tunes and shake it. Split into teams and dance battle or just pile the whole family onto your in-house dance floor and groove 'til you drop.

Ad failed to load

7Set Fireworks Ablaze

If you live somewhere that doesn't allow you to set off full blown fireworks, think small scale and light some sparklers. Kids still love things that are sparkly, glowing, and on fire — and these classic New Year's Eve pyrotechnics will not disappoint.

8Cook A "Fancy" Dinner

Skip the crowds and opt for a fancy dinner at home. Go all out and make a meal that would normally be on the menu in a top notch restaurant. (Or if cooking's not your thing, order take out from a nice venue.) Maybe you choose to dress up or maybe you all savor this special meal in your coziest jammies? Either way, it feels significant and the kids will always remember the uniqueness of the dinner.

9Chow On Good Luck Bread

Order up a Vasilopita ($13), the traditional New Year's bread of Greece, and take your chance at finding the good luck token. This sweet loaf contains a coin that is meant to bring good luck to the person whose piece it is hidden in.

Ad failed to load

10Have A Family Slumber Party

Drag your sleeping bags, air mattresses, and fuzzy blankets into the family room and settle in for a family sleepover. Watch a movie, tell ghost stories, or talk about your hopes for the year ahead. No matter what you choose to do, you're doing it as a family and that is the best way to ring in the new year.

11Exchange Good Luck Gifts

Get your New Year's Eve on like the ancient Romans and exchange nuts and coins to usher in good fortune. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, this is just one tradition of giving New Year's gifts as a symbol of prosperity. Different cultures have different ideas about which gift will ring in a happy new year — so if you're looking for fertility, hope to receive eggs. But if it's luck you're after, make sure to ask for silverware.

Images: Morgan, Guian Bolisay, woodleywonderworks, Hakee Chang, Anthony Cramp/Flickr; Giphy (4)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills