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Fun Activities for Kids on New Years Eve

Updated on February 8, 2018
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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.

New Years Eve Ideas for Kids

Tips and suggestions for spending New Years Eve with kids
Tips and suggestions for spending New Years Eve with kids

Kid Friendly New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve is an exciting holiday celebrated almost world-wide (except for those with differing calendars, of course). That means there are millions of people celebrating with friends and family, waiting for the ball to drop in New York City, watching Dick Clark or other shows, setting up the fireworks and having a grand ol’ time.

For many of us, there are kids celebrating this holiday with us, ranging from babies to young adults. What can we do with them? How can we make this time fun for them as it is for us?

There are typically a few places to celebrate New Year’s Eve: home, at a party in someone else’s home, a party at a banquet facility or elsewhere. I’m going to focus on parties at your home and a party at someone else’s home and break down each section into different ages. For children of all ages, it’s wise to understand one thing: if either parent is going to be drinking alcohol (as this is typically one of the drinking holidays), make sure there is at least one responsible parent who will keep the kiddos away from open alcohol containers and who can drive if partying away from home.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve: Ages 0-2

Home: Babies and children this young should really go to bed at the regular bedtime, especially if they have a regular schedule. If you’re a parent, you know you don’t want to mess with a regular sleep schedule, especially if you’re going to be staying up late! The last thing you want is a cranky baby when you wake up the next morning; they will wake up in the morning at the usual time (or in the middle of the night if they awaken to nurse or take a bottle). The best thing to do is to go through the regular bedtime routine and kiss them goodnight. That way, if you have stayed up late to watch the ball drop and are sleepy the next morning, it will be easier to have a happy baby to take care of than a cranky one…

If you think your two-year old can handle staying up with you (or at least nap until it’s time), then you can let them spend some time with you. Go for a late night walk through the neighborhood, looking at the Christmas lights that will probably still be on. Put together some puzzles or play some games, like Simon Says or Hide-and-Seek.

Away from home: You have two options here: arrange for a sitter or bring your child(ren) along to the party. If you arrange for a sitter, be sure that you leave instructions for the sitter as far as feedings and bedtime and phone number (or two) where they can reach you.

If you decide to bring the child(ren) with you (ask your host if that is okay with them, of course, if kids aren’t invited explicitly), you’ll need to bring some items along. Depending on the age of the baby, I would suggest bringing: a pack n’ play (or other portable playing/ sleeping bassinette/ bouncy seat), feeding essentials, pajamas, swaddler/ sleep sack, small toys, and books. If there are any ‘loveys’ your child uses to sleep, like a favorite teddy bear or blanket, bring that as well. You want your child to feel as comfy away from home as he/she does at home.

Ask your host if there is a safe space where your child can rest and where you can set up a play/sleeping area (it would be wise to bring a baby monitor along as well if this space is out of general sight or hearing). Make sure there are no open outlets or decorations that could pose safety concerns.

Until the child is sleeping, remember that you are in charge of him/her. If he/she is mobile, keep an eye on him/her at all times. Don’t assume that someone is watching your child; the others at the party are there to have a good time, not to babysit for you. If you’d like your child to stay in one place as he/she, it would be great to have the pack n’ play in the living room.

Celebrating New Year's Eve: Toddlers and Older

How will I be entertained?
How will I be entertained? | Source

New Year's Eve Ideas for Kids Ages 3-11

Home: Kids at these ages are a bit more aware of when it is time to sleep, but they would also try to stay awake for the festivities. Give them the option of going to their bedrooms when they feel sleepy, letting them know that it is okay to take a break. You can promise them that you will wake them before the ball drops.

If they try to stay awake, include them in the fun. Make a fun punch for them and some fun appetizers/snacks. Let them make party hats with the New Year in numbers. Leave out crayons and coloring books for them to color. Play card games like Uno or Go Fish. Build crazy buildings, sky scrapers or castles with building Mega Bloks.

At this age, many parents also choose to celebrate around noon and have a party during the day, which is another great idea. I have also read that it would be a cool idea to find out what time other nations celebrate the New Year and to celebrate all day long.

Away from home: Similar to the younger kids/babies, it’s a good idea to bring along some items to keep the kids busy and comfy. Consider: pajamas, board games/card games, handheld gaming console, MP3 player, portable dvd player, books and a blanket. Again, it would be wise to ask your host where in their house would be a safe and quiet place for your child to play and rest.

Also, at this age, it is important that your child understand that he/she is a guest in the house and he/she should behave appropriately. When eating and playing they should exhibit polite manners and be considerate of all others at the party. Encourage them to rest if necessary. For the youngest of this age group, it would be advisable to remind them now and again to use the potty to avoid any accidents.

Our Favorite Tablet to Travel

Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, 7" Display, 16 GB, Yellow Kid-Proof Case - (Previous Generation - 7th)
Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, 7" Display, 16 GB, Yellow Kid-Proof Case - (Previous Generation - 7th)
Whenever we need some entertainment for the kids, we break out our Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets. They are great to bring along to help keep kids entertained. They have games, apps, movies, and books. Just connect to a WIFI connection and they're all ready to go!

Simple Fruit Juice Punch for Kids

Mix together in punch bowl:

  • lemon lime soda, like Sierra Mist
  • fruit punch

Drop on top:

  • rainbow sherbet
  • orange slices
  • maraschino cherries

Serve in small plastic punch glasses.

New Year's Eve Ideas for Kids Ages 12-17

Home: Depending on the age in this group and awareness of being ‘cool’, some of these tweens and teens would probably rather hide in a hole than have to celebrate the holiday with you (I say this in jest, yet…).

For those that are still family oriented, there are plenty of family fun ideas out there. Since they’re more likely to stay up until the ball drops, or even later, now would be a great time to play a family classic like Monopoly, Apples to Apples, Life, Cranium or other great family games.

If you’re family is into cooking, set up a taco bar or pizza bar where everyone can make their own tacos or personal pizzas.

Find some funny movies to watch, or play with the Wii or Xbox Kinnect. For the final countdown, use noisemakers and have a blast!

Away from Home: Chances are, the oldest children of this age group would want to be with their friends. If you permit them to go to a friend’s house, make sure there are responsible adults at that house and make sure your teen has his/her cell phone. (Review the dangers of alcohol and drugs, to be on the safe side. It wouldn't hurt, would it?)

If you're not comfortable with your teen partying at another house, suggest that he/she bring a friend to your house or to your destination (again, making sure it is okay with the host!).

For the children who will be attending a party with you: let them know what to expect and give them the option of bringing along some items—MP3 players, portable gaming consoles, books, games, etc—to keep themselves occupied if they choose.

Explain that you expect them to use polite manners and to have fun while being mindful of the others at the party. At this age, they are usually old enough to either join everyone else at the party in the fun or to find ways to keep themselves amused.

Apples to Apples

Mattel Apples to Apples Party Box The Game of Crazy Combinations
Mattel Apples to Apples Party Box The Game of Crazy Combinations
We have so much fun with this game at parties!

Celebrating New Year's Eve with Kids: Have Fun!

New Year's Eve can be another great holiday to spend together as families and friends, adults and children alike. Make the best of it. Make great memories and start some new traditions. Most of all, have fun!



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