New Year's Eve celebrations are often overpriced and overhyped. Restaurants and clubs can charge crazy fees above and beyond what a dinner any other night would cost, all because it's New Year's Eve. Add a babysitter, at premium prices and with limited availability, and it can be very prohibitive to go out on the big night. It might be worth including the little ones in your celebration this year as there are so many things do on New Year's Eve with kids if you're not too keen on being away from them or breaking the bank.
It's really easy to start some fun New Year's traditions, either with just your kids or together with other families. Many communities have celebrations you can enjoy for free or for a very little fee, and if you're planning on spending it with other families, you can pick one house and gather there. We have spent many New Year's Eves with a houseful of kids and adults celebrating together. The nice thing about partying with other families is that you can still hang with other adults, while the kids are distracted by other kids. If the kids are a range of ages, then the older kids play the role of camp-counselor and let them watch over the younger ones. In some cases you might have to throw them a few bucks as incentive but it'll be cheaper than any other babysitter you hire.
The great thing about a casual gathering is that it's up to you when to start the celebration and also whether to allow your kids to stay up until midnight. If you are bringing the kids out, bring their pajamas with you so that the kids can change while they're out. Then if they drift off before you make it back home, it will be easier to transfer and tuck them into their beds.
Sometimes New Year's parties can drag a little as you wait for midnight to strike. If you're looking for ways to entertain the kids until then, here are some activities you can do with kids on New Year's Eve that will be fun for everyone.
Put together a keepsake for the ages. Ask each participant, in this case, each member of your family, to bring some items that remind them of the year. It can be photos, magazines, funny sayings, clothes, etc. You can also have each guest fill out a time capsule questionnaire like this one from Pretty Providence or make up one of your own. Decide as a family if you want to open the time capsule a year from now or several years from now.
The more festive everyone looks, the more fun they will have. You can buy hats and sparkly necklaces and 2018 eyeglasses, but you can also save a little money and give yourself something to do if you make the party hats yourself using a template like this from Oh Happy Day.
Get some props like silly hats, New Year's Eve crowns, plastic guitars, magic wands — anything you can think of. Place them in a bucket and set up a photo station. You can use a photo app like Pocketbooth Photo Booth from your phone or Fun Booth on your computer. After the photo op, create a slideshow or Shutterfly book with all the photos.
Another project can be putting together noise makers. Put beans in a water bottle and use ribbons, stickers, and whatever else you have lying around the house to decorate the outside. Or, as The Centsible Life suggests, use paper plates and rice to make some noise.
Many towns have First Night celebrations, where they are celebrating the first night of the year (even though they technically hold it on New Year's Eve, the last night of the year). These are typically arts and music festivals full of family-friendly activities. Look online or call city hall to see if yours is hosting one.
If you don't mind a little mess at midnight, put together these confetti poppers that the Repeat Crafter has created.
Many skating rinks host family-friendly New Year's Eve parties. Bundle up and head over for some active fun.
You can have fun and be really creative with this one. Make it a mocu-mentary, in the spirit of The Office or pretend to be doing a news report on the year in review. Ask people for their New Year's resolutions or to tell a quick story about their favorite moment of 2017. There are plenty of easy-to-use programs these days on your computer, like iMovie, that will allow you to edit it.
Download Sesame Street Celebrates Around the World and teach the kids about children and celebrations in other countries. Take a sneak peak ahead of time and see if you want to incorporate some international traditions into your own festivities this year. For example, you can make a pinata like they do in Mexico, or eat 12 grapes at midnight and make a wish as they do in Portugal and Spain.
Set up blankets, let the kids get in their pj's and pop some popcorn for some movie fun. There are plenty of kid-friendly New Year's movies to available to stream that both parents and kids would be into.
Fun drinks can add to the spirit of the party. Create some bubbly champagne concoctions for the adults, but you don't have to leave the kids out. There are lots of fun mocktails you can help the kids create and let them toast with at midnight. For something extra fun, blogger Vicky Barone has created a sparkling cotton candy drink.
Netflix has a New Year's countdown that you can use at any point during the night. If you can't keep them up until midnight, you can still do the big countdown with them (chances are, they're not old enough to realize that it's not really midnight yet). Then usher the kids to sleep, and continue the celebration in peace.
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