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Family Friendly New Year's Games & Activities

Updated on December 14, 2017
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Sam is the mother of two young boys, Juju and Blaze. Their family enjoys going on trips, crafting, learning, and exploring.

Cheers to the New Year Princes!
Cheers to the New Year Princes! | Source

Since writing this Hub several New Year's ago, spending New Year's together as a family and doing many of these activities has become standard for us. More than any other holiday of the year, we enjoy keeping up our New Year's family traditions the most.

We allow our boys to stay up and celebrate with us, but all the activities included here would be just as fun to do during a Noon Day party as well.

What is a Noon Day Party?

This is actually soemthing I learned just before New Year's in 2015. Noon Day Parties are parties for kids to enjoy the fun of New Year's without staying up all night. On New Year's Eve or New Year's Day the kids meet before noon and celebrate in their own kid appropriate way. Then at 11:59AM they count down to 12PM.

If celebrated on New Year's Day, a replay of the ball dropping the night before could be played for them.

Confetti Play Dough

Juju and Blaze playing with their confetti play dough.
Juju and Blaze playing with their confetti play dough. | Source

I used PBS' No-Bake Play Dough Recipe to make the play dough for the boys. I only changed a few things. Instead of food colouring, I used Kool-Aid and instead of glitter I used confetti.

The boys loved it! But I have two regrets. First, I let the boys choose the colour of the play dough and they decided on red. Combined with the confetti, the pinky red colour of the play dough made it look with they were playing with dirty chop meat. Yuck. I would highly recommend using a different colour or no colour at all. My second regret is that I started out using one recipe and then switched midway through so the clay was a bit messier than it was supposed to be. Don't be foolish like me. Just use this recipe.

For a more eco-friendly option, use biodegradable glitter or edible sprinkles.


I love backing with my boys. It's one of our go-to activities when I'm home on the weekends. It's a fun way to teach them about math, particularly fractions and measurement. Sometime I divide up the measurement to teach them more. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon, I might give them 1/2 Tablespoon to use or even 1/8 and we will discuss how many we need to get the correct measurement.

Baking is also good for sparking an interest in science and experimentation. We talk about the colour and texture of things, how our mixtures change when different things our added, how things change when they are put in the oven, etc. I always leave the oven light on so they can watch their creations transform.

We just made Pillsbury Funfetti cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles, but here are a couple of ideas that may be more fun.

Pipe Cleaner Crowns

I can never get these boys to stand still for a photo anymore....
I can never get these boys to stand still for a photo anymore.... | Source

These are really fun and easy to make, no matter what your artistic skill level is. All you have to do is make a ring with two pipe cleaners that fits around the head, then work the piper cleaners all around into a crown shape. I helped my boys make theirs while they made pipe cleaner figurines.

DIY Photo Booth

This was an activity we actually didn't get to do for lack of time and poor preparation (boo Mommy). However, it is something I still really want to do and intend to do in the future either for New Year's or some other party.

I had planned to use my MacBook, since it comes with the PhotoBooth app installed, but pictures could easily be taken with a smartphone or a camera on a tripod.

Interviews and Letters from the Past

As a kid I loved to write letters to myself, seal them up, and write dates far in the future for them to be opened. Then I would hide them away so I wouldn't think about them. It was always fun (and often time embarrassing) to open them up and read them in the future. I would talk about my likes, my dislikes, and my plans for the future. This has often been motivation for me to get back into the things I wanted to do in past OR has been a source of laughter over the ridiculousness of my ambitions. Either way, it is a tradition I would like to pass on to my boys.

Now that they are old enough to write, we will write letters together and put them in our time capsule, but up until now I have been doing video interviews with them.

Here are some interview questions I ask the boys so that when they look back they can get a sense of who they were at that age:

  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • What's your favorite color?
  • What's your favorite food?
  • What's your favorite animal?
  • What was your favorite thing about this year?
  • What do you like to do the most?
  • What would you like to learn to do/learn more of next year?
  • What do you hope next year will bring?
  • If a genie gave you three wishes what would they be?
  • If you were an alien how would you say goodbye?

The questions seem pretty basic, but when you interview kids--especially young children--you never know what gems you will get in their responses. Adorable AND hilarious.

DIY Balloon Drop

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Yes, I blew all of these up by myself.  Yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds. Our balloon net hovering over our living room couch.
Yes, I blew all of these up by myself.  Yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds.
Yes, I blew all of these up by myself. Yes, it was as exhausting as it sounds.
Our balloon net hovering over our living room couch.
Our balloon net hovering over our living room couch.

DIY Balloon Drop

This has become a staple in our New Year's celebrations, but lately we have been trying to make more eco-friendly and sustainable choices in our household. Even 100% latex balloons, which are often marketed as being rapidly biodegradable, cause problems for the environment. We love going to the aquarium, so learning about sea turtles and other marine creatures choking on balloon jellies has put a damper on the joy of the balloon drop.

If you would still like to do a balloon drop, I'd recommend looking into creative ways to reuse your balloons after they've popped and please dispose of your balloons properly when you are done!

Alyernatively, consider using reusable inflatable balls or toys for your balloon drop. Even though they are still made of plastic you can reuse them every year and during the summer time. When they break you can patch them up or use them as patching material for other inflatable toys. They also have other uses such as packing material or waterproof material for crafting and sewing.

I have listed more balloon drop alternatives in the section below.

To create a DIY balloon drop you will need:

  • two sheets of fabric (we used some window curtains that we no longer use)
  • cheap duct tape or masking tape
  • balloons
  • paper confetti (if you don't mind cleaning up the mess after)

I would also highly recommend an air pump of some sort. I blew up at least 50 balloons by myself. It was not fun.

First, you should decide on where your balloon drop will be, if you have low ceilings it could be right in the living room or by the TV while you watch the countdown. We live in a lofted apartment so it would be impossible for us to reach the ceiling. I situated our balloon drop in the corner of our upstairs wall.

Now to set up the net. Line the two pieces of fabric together and place duct tape down the seam. When you've finished taping them together create a long duct tape tail that someone standing on the floor will be able to reach and pull. Then pin up your balloon net. When the time to release the balloons comes someone will tug on the tail, bursting the seam, and allowing the baloons to fall through. I suggest using cheap duct tape or masking tape, something strong enough to hold the pieces together but not so sticky that it will resist being pulled.

Blow up your balloons and add them to the net. Add your confetti too, if you wish.

Have fun!

Eco-friendly Balloon Alternatives

Here are a few suggestions of more sustainable alternatives to a balloon drop:

  • Inflatable balls or toys
  • Tissue paper pom poms
  • Paper confetti--or even better, seed paper confetti! (Then plant it when you're done!)
  • Piñata Poppers or candy drop (see below)
  • Biodegradable glitter and reusable gems
  • Ribbons

DIY Mini Piñata Poppers

I initially included this project as an eco-friendly alternative to balloons, but it's so much fun I felt it deserved its own section. Plus, creating the poppers is a great craft for kids.

For this you'll need:

  • A toilet paper roll
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Ribbon or string
  • Filler; confetti, candy, whatever you want

Decorate your toilet paper roll with glue and the tissue paper however you like. When you are done use hot glue to add ribbon or string to hold up the popper.

Glue a circle of tissue paper to the bottom of the popper and securely tape ribbon or string to the bottom. Alternatively, you can cut out a circle of paper and with two holes in the middle and thread the ribbon or string through like a button and tie a knot. When the string is pulled the tissue paper or will rip, giving way to what's inside.

Fill your popper with confetti and goodies. And if you like, seal the top with another circle piece of tissue paper.

Hang up your poppers and pull the strings when it's time! I really want to add seed paper confetti to ours so we can start a new tradition of growing plants for the new year.

Cotton Candy Champagne

This was definitely one of the boys' favorite treats, Cotton Candy Champagne. It was so simple too! We used Sprite instead of Pierrer, just because we couldn't find it in time. Really, any carbonatede drink should have the same effect, though I recommend it be clear. If possible, use a glass or clear cup so the kiddies can watch the cotton candy fizzle and melt away. We tried it with pink and blue cotton candy separately, though now I wish we had combined them to see if it would turn purple.

Rememberlution Jar

2015 was a pretty rough year for us. It was full of changes both good and bad. We decided instead of making resolutions, we would start our own Harris Family Rememberlutions Jar. I first learned about this project when I stumbled upon a Buzzfeed article about it. Rather than resolving to do this or that, whenever something memorable happens throughout the year we will write it on a slip of paper and put it in the jar.

We do this every year now and enjoy putting memories in the jar throughout the year. Got all A's on your report card? It's going in the jar! Tied your shoes all by yourself? It's going in the jar! Had an epic sleepover with 5 of your friends? In the jar! Going to Legoland? Totally in the jar!

Going through all our happy memories on New Year's Eve helps remind us that no matter how difficult the year may have been, there is still a lot to be happy and thankful for. By celebrating even the smallest of achievements with my sons I feel we give them the confidence they need to take on the challenges of the next year too.

Time Capsule

To make our time capsules we get a sturdy box and fill it with things that remind us of what we enjoyed throughout the year. I write a letter about the events that occurred and what we were like. I usually put in things like invitations to weddings/baby showers/other life events, party favors, ticket stubs from theme parks and movies, rocks or seashells we collected, dried flowers from mother's day or valentine's bouquets, birthday candles, small toys, articles of clothing from the boys, drawings, report cards, and cute school assignments or crafts. On the box I write the year the box was made and the date the box could be opened. We decided to seal ours up for 10 years. Since the boys are so young, we figured the contents won't be very interesting to them any sooner than that. If it were just for my husband and I or if our boys were teenagers, we would have probably only sealed it up for 5.

Come 2025 we will also have the new tradition of opening a previously sealed time capsule every year!


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