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10 Fun New Year's Eve Activities for Kids and Families

Updated on February 21, 2014
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While we often think of New Year's Eve celebrations being mostly for adults, it's also a big celebration for the kids who often think of it as a single night during the year that they get to stay up until tomorrow!

Every New Year's Eve, my family stays at home and the kids have always stayed up with us if they wanted to and if they were still awake, but it is anything but boring!

Here are some fun activities for kids, or even your entire family, to do while you're waiting to ring in the new year at midnight!

1. Have a Fun Word Find Challenge

Using the words HAPPY NEW YEAR, see how many words you and the kids can make from these letters only - no doubling letters that don't appear or have already been used!

You can do this one of several ways! Use a single sheet of paper and collectively put a list together. Or, pair up one adult with one child and another adult with another child. Older siblings will love to help the younger ones, too. If you have only older children, consider a competition among them and the adults!

Tally the lists and see if you can beat it next New Year's Eve!

If you get stuck, check out these suggestions for words you can find from 'Happy New Year'!

Favorite Fondue Recipes

I invite you to enjoy our family's favorite fondue recipes!

2. Have a Fondue Party

This is one of my family's favorite traditions! Each New Year's Eve, I make a cheese fondue and a chocolate fondue. A few days prior, I ask the kids what favorite dippers they want! We usually have a large spread of dippers:

Favorite chocolate fondue dippers: pretzel rods, apples, pound cake, mini marshmallows, strawberries

Favorite cheese fondue dippers: apples, crusty bread, carrots, broccoli, grapes

Both my children (8 and 17) love the fondue party and always have since they were little (although the smaller ones tend to favor the chocolate one). They can dip them themselves with minimal help and supervision, and they love trying different combinations! We leave it going throughout the evening and snack it on it until midnight!

3. Create a Family Time Capsule

Usually when we think of time capsules, we think of them holding information over 10, 20, 50 years, etc. Why not create one for the current year to open next New Year's Eve!

To get started, find and decorate a shoebox with stickers, paper, paint, etc. or a find and use a large jar and indicate the year on it. Have each family member look through photographs from the year and select the ones that have the most meaning to them. Each family member can also write down their favorite memories and collect anything else that has meaning from the past year.

When everything's collected, place them in the box or jar and wait until next New Year's Eve to open it and relive the memories and make a scrapbook of it together that evening.

Another option is to create a capsule for the upcoming year and, throughout the year, have family members contribute to it such as what was suggested above. Then New Year's Eve, look through all the memories of the past year and create a scrapbook together.

4. Make a Bottle Noisemaker

Have a fun evening of family crafts making your own New Year's Eve noisemakers out of an empty water bottle!

Clean, dry, and remove the label from a plastic water bottle. Once dry, put some pennies or dry beans into the bottle and put the cap back on and tighten it. Tie a few different color 1/8-inch ribbons around the neck and knot it leaving the tails hanging about 5 inches. Decorate the bottle with stickers, wrap in tissue paper and decorate that, or just leave with the ribbons!

5. Celebrate the New Year Around the World

This is a great way to incorporate some geography into New Year's celebrations!

Have the children help choose several countries around the world (in time zones earlier than your own) and find out what time they'll be celebrating their New Year! Have a count down in their time zone and take a few minutes to learn at least three new things about that country - perhaps even how to say Happy New Year in that country's native language!

This is also a great way to celebrate for the younger ones that may not be able to stay up until it's midnight where you live!

6. Make a Family Resolution Poster

We all know that we tend to achieve goals we've set if we write them down and make them known.

Using small poster board, write at the top 20__ New Year Resolutions (fill in the blanks for the year) and have the kids decorate the edges of the poster. Have each family member write in their resolutions and add their name next to it. Using magnetic chip clips, hang the poster on the refrigerator where all can see throughout the year. Next New Year's Eve, pull the poster back down and see which ones you've kept!

7. Write a Family New Year Story

Remember the Ad-Libs that were so much fun as kids? Well, this is a variation of that! Write a story that each family member builds upon!

Have one of the adults be responsible for writing down the story. Each person adds one sentence to the story that builds upon the last sentence. While you can make the theme about anything, it's fun at this time of the year to select something about the new year (or even about the year that is ending). Continue for a set period of time or until no one can think of anything else.

It might be easier to use a video or voice recorder to record the sentences and then transcribe them. Read the completed family story and enjoy the laughs that come along with it! Tuck it away in your family time capsule!

8. Draw Your Wishes for a Family Wish Calendar

Everyone has wishes for the new year! And it would be fun to document and see how much the wishes from the kids change from year to year. Keep all of your wishes together in a calendar for the upcoming year! You'll be able to look at beautiful artwork and the wishes throughout the year.

Using white paper and crayons or markers, have each family member draw a wish on a sheet of paper. You'll need a total of twelve drawings between all family members.

In the following days, have your drawings made into a calendar with each month's image being one of the wishes from your family member!

You can make your own calendar by finding free printable calendars online and printing them and mounting them to construction paper and doing the same with the wish drawings or upload them to one of the many places you can create calendars from and receive a printed calendar with your family artwork.

9. Toast the New Year

While the bubbly that adults drink are off-limits to the kids, the kids still like to be part of the toasting. The clinking of the glasses is something that all kids love to do!

There are many delicious kinds of sparkling grape and even pear juice that will make the kids think they're drinking what the adults are drinking (in our family, we all drink the sparkling juice). At party stores, they have plastic champagne type glasses that will make the kids feel even more special having the same type of glasses as the adults!

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10. Make Some Noise!

As kids, it was always a highlight of the year for my brothers and I to count down with the ball falling in New York, then go outside at midnight and yell at the top of our lungs, "Happy New Year!" I think my parents cringed a little, but to us it was exciting! After all, at least in my neighborhood, people are setting off fireworks, so it is pretty much drowned out!

If you're not into the outdoor noise, just make a lot of noise inside! Shake the bottle noisemakers you've made, use metal pot lids and clang together, beat a wooden spoon on the bottom of the pot, or a favorite of kids (okay, and adults, too) - lay down a sheet of bubblewrap and jump up and down making all kinds of firecracker noises the safe (and fun) way!

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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i would love to make a time capsule next year. Over here in Malaysia, young adults and teens go for noisy parties and pubs while younger and middle age parents stay at home watch TV program to pass time. Maybe US are more fun and party goer . Voted up

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      KDeus, these are great ideas! I love the fondue party idea. I might actually do that this weekend for my kids' play-date. They will love that! Thanks for the read. Voted up and Shared.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for all those good fun activities! I should keep them in mind for when I have grandchildren... my kids are already married and not home anymore! But I love to hear about any activities for kids.

      When my kids were still at home we used to do grilled meats on top of the raclette grill machine with special sauces for New Year's Eve...and the kids loved it.... until one of my sons became a vegetarian! I never tried tofu on it!

    • KDeus profile image
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      Keely Deuschle 4 years ago from Florida

      Thank you, Patricia! Making gingerbread houses sounds like so much fun (and eating them, too)! We haven't done that in so long! What wonderful memories those times spent together makes :) Happy New Year to You!!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Great collection of fun for kids at the New Year. My Momma and I always made a gingerbread house---it was made of cake not graham crackers. That was our special event for New Year's Eve. And if I could stay awake I would have a cup of cider at midnight. We ate the cake on New Year's Day.

      Thanks for sharing these ideas. Pinned ++