A few weeks ago a good friend told me about her family’s New Year’s Eve celebration last year, which included fun activities each hour until midnight. I was impressed. I told her we usually just watch movies with the kids until they fall asleep on the couch. Then she said this: “Our oldest kids are already teenagers and it won’t be many years before they move out. So we want to make all the memories we can in the time we have left.” Her words got me thinking it might be worth planning something a little more fun this year, so I’ve collected 50 ideas for celebrating New Year’s Eve with kids: countdowns, food, crafts, games, and more. If you’re looking for fun things to do with your family on New Year’s Eve, you’ve come to the right place. Cheers!
1. Count down the hours until midnight with balloons that get popped each hour. For extra fun, write the activity you’ll do that hour on a piece of paper and roll it up and tuck it in the balloon before filling. Photo (and lots of other New Year’s Eve ideas) found at One Good Thing By Jillee.
2. Fill bags with treats or activity ideas and label them with the hours until midnight. Get free printables for bags + tons of other fun New Year’s printables at The Dating Divas.
3. Make countdown clocks using paper plates. Get the tutorial at Buggy and Buddy.
4. Make confetti poppers to use at midnight. Tutorial from Smashed Peas and Carrots.
5. Put together a year-in-review slideshow using favorite pictures from the year. Cuddle up in pajamas to watch it together.
6. Play Marshmallow Dodgeball (pretty much an excuse to lob marshmallows at each other) or make simple marshmallow catapults and compete to see who can fling small objects the furthest.
7. Play New Year’s Eve bingo! Free printables from Capturing Joy.
8. Cook something together. Make dinner together, or a snack or treat later on in the evening. These cinnamon sticks with cream cheese frosting are easy and quick – perfect for making with kids.
9. Make and decorate paper plate shakers to use as midnight. Get the how to from The Centsible Life.
10. Play spoons (instructions here). For extra fun, place the spoons across the room from where you’re playing so you have to run to get them. Also, instead of the last person getting “out” each round, just have them earn a letter and let everyone continue to play until someone has all the letters in the word “spoons”.
11. Set some resolutions! Talk about went well last year and what goals everyone wants to set for this year. Use this fun printable from Moritz Fine Designs.
12. Then play two resolutions and a lie. Have each family member take a turn telling everyone else two real resolutions and one pretend one, then guess which one is the lie.
13. Play balloon pop. For older kids, tie a balloon around each person’s ankle, then let everyone try to pop each other’s balloons. Last one with an unpopped balloon wins. For younger kids, just blow up a bunch of balloons and let everyone loose trying to pop as many as they can in a certain amount of time.
14. Play balloon ball. Set up a “net” using a piece of crepe paper across the room and hit the balloon back and forth with paper plate paddles.
15. Celebrate with New Year’s Eve cheesecake clock. Get the instructions from Hungry Happenings.
16. Play glow in the dark games! Lots of ideas, including glow in the dark ring toss, from A Pumpkin and a Princess.
17. Throw a pamper party! Paint nails, fix hair, or apply temporary tattoos.
18. Play charades. Act out phrases having to do with the New Year, or play the game Guesstures (<–affiliate link). My kids were literally rolling on the floor laughing last time we played this game.
19. Make embellished sunglasses using glitter, feathers, and more. Idea and photo from Ruffles and Stuff.
20. Make popcorn balls! Use lots of sprinkles so they look festive. Get the recipe from That Skinny Chick Can Bake.
21. Tie donuts on a string and hang them from the ceiling. Compete to see who can eat it first without using hands.
22. Get t-shirts from the dollar store and decorate them using glow in the dark paint (<–affiliate link).
23. Make party hats! Use the free printables and instructions from Paging Supermom.
24. Interview each member of the family about the last year. Use these printables from SohoSonnet Creative Living, or video everyone giving their answers (and then ask the same questions next year!).
25. Indoor camping. Set up a tent or build a fort then tell scary stories. This is actually a great one if mom and dad need a break for a few minutes – I’ve always been amazed by how long my kids will spend playing in a tent 🙂
26. Minute to win it games: get ideas & printables for 10 NYE themed games at The Idea Room.
28. Photo scavenger hunt. Hide photos from the past year around the house and send the kids hunting for them. Once they’re all gathered, play memory. Click through to No Time for Flash Cards for more details.
29. Bundle up and head outside for a little star gazing. See which constellations you can identify. When you’re done, come back in for peanut butter cup hot cocoa.
30. Snowball fight! Either brave the outdoors for a real snowball fight, or use this indoor version from Sew Can Do.
31. Have fondue. This may be the highlight of the entire evening! No fondue pot? Just click over to Hoosier Homemade to see how to make cupcake fondue instead!
32. Use pipe cleaners to write out the new year, then twist them onto headbands or cheap sunglasses with the lenses popped out (you can find both at the dollar store). Tip: twist two pipe cleaners together to make them sturdier before forming numbers.
33. Open up a package of bubble wrap and let the kids go crazy twisting, popping, and jumping on it.
34. Build a punch out board like this one from Celebrate the Big and Small for the last hour before midnight. Let kids punch out one spot every five or ten minutes, and put the names of songs, books, or quick games behind each spot.
35. If your Christmas tree is still up, re-decorate it as a New Year’s wish tree. Cut stars from construction paper and let kids (and adults) write down the things they wish and hope for this year, then hang them on the tree. Add colored balloons and lots of curly ribbon to make it even more festive.
36. Make glittery New Year’s Eve play dough. Get the recipe from Homegrown Friends.
37. Hold family story time. Have everyone bring their favorite book, then read them aloud together.
38. Have fun with NYE madlibs. Get free printables from Lalymom.
39. Make glittery bracelets with this tutorial from A Pumpkin and a Princess.
40. Have everyone write one or two words that represent a favorite memory from the year on a piece of paper. Mix up the papers and then have people pull them out and read the words. See if everyone else can figure out what the memory is and who wrote it down.
41. Play Pit! (<– affiliate link). It’s a fun, easy to learn and quick to play game that will have everyone laughing. Plus it comes with a bell you can ring at midnight! If you’ve played before, mix things up by using animal sounds to trade cards (i.e. bark instead of saying “one”, oink instead of saying “two”, etc.)
42. Make a New Year’s Eve surprise ball, like this one from Mama Papa Bubba.
43. Write a family bucket list for the coming year.
44. Make New Year’s Eve time capsule, using this printable from Uncommon Designs. It will be fun to open up next year and see how everyone has changed!
45. Make glitter star headbands. Get the directions from Delightfully Tacky.
46. Play “rescue the kids”. Place a few Sour Patch kids at the bottom of a pie plate, then cover them with whipped cream. Make one for each person, then compete to see who can rescue the kids first without using hands.
47. Set up a mini golf course throughout your house. Use plastic cups tipped on their side as holes, and have the kids help build obstacles using books, food containers, newspapers, etc. Hit the balls with yardsticks, paper towels tubes, pool noodles, or actual golf clubs.
48. Use leftover jingle bells to make New Year’s Eve noisemakers. Get the instructions at Project Nursery.
49. Take fun glow in the dark photos using glowsticks. Turn off the lights and set your camera to a very low shutter speed (like 8 seconds long). Place the camera on a table or tripod, press the shutter button, and start making designs with the glowsticks. NOTE: Writing a word or number is fairly difficult and kids may not be able to do it. However, it’s still super fun to capture the designs they make with the glowsticks!
50. Put together a balloon drop for midnight (or whenever you want to celebrate the New Year – no need to stay up til midnight with little ones!). Get the how-to from Modern Parents, Messy Kids.
Have fun planning a fantastic New Year’s Eve! Have any great ideas I missed? Leave them in the comments – thanks!