Family-Friendly Ideas for New Year’s Eve

From dance parties and photo booths to games and crafts, here’s everything you need to plan a fun and festive New Year’s Eve with kids. Sequins included!

Fruity Soda Pop

Fruity Soda Pop Recipe opens in a new tab

Go big and stay home, that’s my motto for New Year’s Eve with two kids. Long gone are the New Year’s Eves of watching fireworks on the beach, dancing into the wee morning hours and sleeping past noon. Nope, I’m now a mother of two young children who doesn’t want to bother with parking, traffic and expensive events. So we stay home and it’s great — no, really. Not convinced? I’ve rounded up the best loudest, silliest, messiest family-friendly ideas for New Year’s Eve, so you too can stay home, go big and love it.

Hats Off. What’s New Year Eve without a hat?! Making silly-over-the-top party hats is an ideal craft for kids — and it’s the perfect use for old newspapers, leftover colorful tissue, wrapping paper and ribbons. Add feathers, sequins or ribbons and voila!

Dress Up. That bridesmaid’s dress you spent too much on. The piano tie that lights up. The handmade multicolored scarf from Aunt Tilly. Now is the time to wear it. In our family, it’s kids’ choice on New Year’s Eve. We let them pick out our fancy clothes, and the outcome is picture perfect.

Photo Finish. Speaking of… make use of that selfie stick in the closet or up your game with a camera trigger, grab props and create a photo booth.

Game Night. One of my friends shared with me how her family would work on a puzzle through New Year's Eve night. When the puzzle was finished, they’d flip pieces over and write the year's accomplishments and highlights in permanent market. They’d then label the box with the year and pack it back up. Years later it made a fun time capsule.

Slow Cooker White Chili

Slow Cooker White Chili Recipe opens in a new tab

Chili and Champagne. Another friend has the same meal every New Year’s Eve with her family — chili and Champagne. While the kids can’t indulge in that last part, I love the idea of starting the tradition of having the same entrée every New Year’s Eve. Pick a theme: finger foods only, tacos or personal pizzas. Or make a big batch of chili opens in a new tab or baked potatoes and set out a great big toppings station.

Dance, Dance, Dance. Blacklights, leftover glow sticks from Halloween, hits from the '90s, oh my!

Make a Toast. Either appoint someone as the toastmaster in advance or go around the dinner table and have each person make a brief toast — silly, rhyming, anything goes. While adults toast with an adult beverage, make sure the kids have something fun too. My girls opt for fairy milk (glasses of milk with sprinkles along the rim) but this recipe for Fruity Soda Pop opens in a new tab would be great too.

Young woman holding firework

Countdown with Other Time Zones. Confession: I might (read: will not) stay up until midnight thanks to my early rising children, so ringing in 2016 on time isn’t in the cards. However, on New Year’s Eve it’s always nearly midnight somewhere in the world, right? So ring in the New Year in other time zones. Bonus: Pair it with traditional customs in those time zones. For example, I’ve read that in Spain they eat twelve grapes, in Japan they laugh, in Denmark they jump off chairs and somewhere in Scotland, some people swing giant fireballs. (Well, I really don’t recommend that last one.)

Bring on the Noise. DIY your own noisemakers with empty plastic bottles, milk jugs or yogurt cups (or other containers with lids in your recycling bin). Simply add some rice or lentils, secure the tops and cover the bottles with colored paper, glitter and other decorations. No time for crafting? No problem. Bang pots and pans at midnight instead. Trust me, this is a huge hit with the kids — especially if you take the action outside on the front porch.

What are your suggestions for a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration at home? Add to the list!

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