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We all remember the days when we could spend HOURS leading up to New Years Eve planning what we would wear, where we would eat, with whom we’d party until 2 am, etc.
Gone are those days for most of us, and that’s ok!
Now, if Husband and I plan to live it up, we have to find a sitter (hard to do on such a huge holiday), try not to have a hangover when a kid jumps in our bed before 7am, and still be energetic throughout the day. No, thank you.
If you’re okay being “over” your party days and plan to spend New Years Eve with your little ones (honestly, this sounds pretty dang cozy to me), we’ve got you covered with family New Years Eve party ideas! After all, why not snuggle in with your kids for the ball drop and create some New Years family traditions?
And if you don’t want to host a full-on party, scroll down to see our favorite memorable New Years Eve family dinner ideas.
How Do You Celebrate New Years Eve With Kids?
I’ll be honest here and say that I am a person who generally doesn’t ever make it past 10 pm. Even before kids, I regularly found myself setting an alarm to wake up before the ball dropped or fireworks started. So I, personally, think a family New Years Eve party sounds pretty great!
Whether you’re looking for New Years activities for toddlers or older children, we’ve researched and compiled these ideas to help you have a super fun family New Years Eve party.
My ideas for a kid friendly New Years Eve party include tips for kids of multiple ages, as well as New Years Eve family dinner ideas!
I’m also envisioning this party as the kind of shindig where you can invite other families with children and perhaps, just perhaps, let the adults stay up until midnight for a champagne toast!
But only if you want to. I’d rather go to bed.
5 Ideas for Celebrating New Years Eve with Toddlers and Younger Children
When planning a family New Years Eve party, let’s start with the most difficult age group to entertain.
If you have toddlers and younger children at your New Years Eve party, you’re going to need to do some party prepping and possibly hire some (inexpensive) help. Let’s talk about what this could look like.
1. Get an Older Child to Help
We know that finding a sitter on New Years Eve is difficult, but there are ways around this.
Many families know younger teenagers who likely/hopefully aren’t off partying yet. Ages 12-14 or so are too young to be off on their own, yet too old to really get into some of the ideas we’re suggesting here.
That’s why we think it’s a great idea to pay older kids to help run craft tables and generally help you manage your younger party-goers and New Years activities for toddlers.
A pay rate of $10 or so per hour won’t break the bank, and this way you can ensure that you have some help with your younger attendees.
You very well may have guests coming who will happily bring their teen-adolescents along to help!
2. Set up a Craft Station
Once you have secured some younger teenagers to help out, let them manage the craft area for toddlers. If you can’t find help, adults in the group can do this too.
Here are some great ideas for your craft station:
1. Color Your Own Party Hats
Ring in the new year in a way kids will love with the DIY New Years idea! Amazon has some great, pre-assembled party hats that kids can color.
Or, let the older kids make hats out of paper and staple them together for the little ones.
This will help them feel like part of the festivities and keep them busy! After all, when it comes to fun New Year’s Eve ideas for littles, letting them adorn themselves in cute, DIY accessories is sure to be a hit! Make sure you’re stocked up on crayons, and if the kids coming are older, stock up on fun colored paint pens!
2. Face Paint
Help kids get into the spirit by having a face painting station. Use non-toxic face paint with glitter to really ramp up the celebratory spirit.
Want to REALLY up your game for this family friendly New Years Eve party?
Grab this reusable photo booth backdrop from Etsy, snag some props, and let people get full family photos while decked out for the New Year! In fact, if you end up doing a party every year, taking a new picture during the event could be a fun new New Years family tradition.
3. Cupcake Decorating
Cupcake decorating is a fun and tasty way to enjoy any party! It’s also the ideal New Years activity for toddlers and kids.
You can let the kids ice the cupcakes, sprinkle them to their tiny hearts’ desire, and then stick a cool NYE topper in them.
Serve on a simple, festive paper plate for an added touch (and so you don’t have to do a metric ton of dishes later).
Looking to add party games to your list of fun activities? Make cupcake decorating a contest, and ask the whole family to participate!
Pro tip: if you want even less work, buy ready-to-bake cookie dough and let them decorate cookies!
4. Stage an Early Kids Ball Drop at your Family New Years Eve Party
If you plan to have adults stay later, you might want to think about having an early kids ball drop to help the wee ones get in on the action.
You can buy plenty of party decor, such as balloons and banners, and have the little ones gather to watch the ball drop in, say, Australia.
Voila! The kids have partied and watched the “new year” ring in.
And don’t forget to pour some actual champagne for yourself, Mama.
5. Group Bedtime
If you are inviting over toddlers and young children whose parents will want to stay up with you and have a few adult beverages and say, I don’t know, actually stay up ‘til midnight, consider letting the kiddos sleepover until the parents are ready to head home.
This way, you can have a New Year’s Eve party for the family without having to end the fun before the adults are ready!
We suggest preparing a room in your house (maybe your own child’s room) with extra pallets, blankets, and sleeping areas. Slumber party!
Be sure to have parents bring portable cribs if appropriate for young kids.
Have parents also bring PJs and other necessities, put the kids to bed at an earlier time, and then go back to you know, being an adult.
4 Ideas for Celebrating New Years Eve with Kids Ages 7-11
All of our earlier tips regarding crafts still apply for the older children at your family New Year’s Eve party, but you can get a bit more age-specific for them!
New Years Eve Games for Families with Older Kids
Games and activities are a great way to engage older kids and to have some family bonding time while you create New Year’s family traditions. Here are some of our favorite ideas!
1. Have Children Create New Years’ Resolutions
These can be as simple as trying harder at math, cleaning their rooms more frequently, learning to play a sport, etc.
Make sure that you, too, engage in making your own resolutions. Kids need to see that parents can set healthy goals, as well.
If you want to make it into a game, children can write out their resolutions anonymously, and you can put them into a hat and let them guess whose resolutions belong to whom.
2. Make a Family Time Capsule
Just like with a resolution, a time capsule can be a great reflective activity for your family New Year’s Eve party.
Click the family time capsule link, and you’ll find all sorts of great ideas for creating your family’s time capsule, including FREE printables to help get you started!
3. Play Bingo!
Keep in mind that your family friendly New Years Eve party doesn’t have to be extravagant–it just needs to be memorable!
4. Make and Eat Some Sparkling Jello
Yep. You heard us. This is one of our favorite activity ideas because it’s oh-so-fun for when the clock strikes midnight (or whatever time you’ve designated for the ball drop).
If you’re open to letting your older children stay up for the ball drop, or if you plan to stage their own kids’ ball drop a little later than that of the younger kids, we suggest letting them partake of the fun by having some sparkling jello (made with nonalcoholic sparkling grape juice, of course!).
This recipe is so fun!
New Years Eve Family Dinner Ideas
Alright, we’ve been regaling you with ideas for a family New Years’ Eve party that possibly includes your friends and their kids. That’s all well and good, but what if you’re completely tapped out after the holidays, and well, just tired of planning and being responsible for EVERYONE’s happiness??
Here’s where a memorable New Years’ Eve family dinner comes in.
Close your eyes and picture it with me: you’ve ordered a nice TAKEOUT meal for your family. You’ve lit some candles. Everyone is excited about takeout, and your kids actually eat what you set in front of them.
Talk about a spectacular New Years’ family tradition!
Now, I’m not saying that this dreamy vignette will actually happen, but at least you won’t have to do any dishes if you order a nice takeout meal!
Here’s how to execute this New Years Eve family dinner:
1. Plan Ahead
We know you’re likely tired of planning anything after Christmas or Hanukah, but hear us out: many restaurants are going to be slammed on this holiday, so make sure you know what’s open and get your order in on time.
If you don’t want to order takeout, and you have enough bandwidth to plan a family meal, then go for it!
But again, plan ahead. If your kids are old enough, you can let them pick their favorite foods and plan the meal together.
And if you’re from the South, or anywhere else that subscribes to traditional or “lucky” NYE foods, then consider making some!
2. Make it Special
We’re not asking you to go all out–just to consider some extra touches.
You can light some candles and put out your good china if you feel like it (obviously, don’t hand your grandmother’s Wedgewood to your toddler, though).
Or for easier cleanup, check out my favorite disposable option–formal plasticware! It looks pretty, rinses clean for easy recycling, but doesn’t require dishes. With young kids, this is how we serve Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in our home, too!
Consider the following ways to make your dinner special:
- Light some candles
- Use cloth napkins
- Print some “menus” that you made in 5 minutes on the computer
- Invite grandparents as “guests of honor” if they’re able to come
- Let everyone pick something “fancy” they’d like to wear, and you are NOT allowed to pick it for them
Kids don’t need anything too fancy, but they will get excited about the extra effort you’re making to create a fun, family new years eve party.
And if you have older kids, consider asking them to make some crafts to form an NYE centerpiece on the table!
3. Talk About the New Year + Resolutions
If you have kids who are old enough to grasp the meaning of the new year and things like NYE resolutions, make a point to talk about yours, and let them talk about theirs.
This forms a special memory you can all look back on the next year when you do it all again!
YOUR Family New Years Eve After Party
Whether you’re full-on party planning or having a meaningful dinner, we love all these ideas for including children in your New Years’ Eve fun!
And you might even consider letting them stay up longer than normal, but if not, settle them down in a different room and allow them to watch a movie and/or read some books.
If the pre-teens you have hired are still there, they can help monitor the group and enforce some quiet time (that hopefully leads to sleep).
When all the kids are settled down, it’s time to pop some champagne in your living room and celebrate your own new year! Even if it’s only 9 pm. Again, no judgment.
What did we miss?? Tell us your family New Year’s Eve party ideas in the comments!
Other Fun Party Posts
- Check out our kid friendly holiday party ideas
- Grab these super fun tips for inexpensive birthday party ideas for kids
- Valentine’s Day party games for kids
- St. Patrick’s Day for kids
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.