4 Tips for Celebrating New Year’s Eve with Kids

I love the beginning of a new year.

We’ve spent New Year’s Eve every which way, from celebrating with my sister Merrick and her family in California to spending the day making an 11 hour drive through Texas to Alabama.

Two years ago, we made chocolate fondue for New Year’s Eve and had some cousins over for a few card games.

Last year, when we started talking about New Year’s Eve, my girls all started shouting “our tradition is fondue and games!”

new year's eve with kids

I hadn’t realized it was a tradition after one year, but I was in and we had a great time last year with two other families playing some group games and eating all the chocolate fondue we could hold.

This year, we won’t be hosting a party, but we’ll definitely be breaking out our fondue pot and some of our new Christmas games.

Since I hate staying up late, celebrating New Year’s Eve with kids is actually GREAT for me, since I don’t want to stay up until midnight anyway.

If you’re celebrating at home with little kids too, here are some of my tips for making it a fun and special evening without making you or your kids crazy either that night or the next morning.

kids new years eve party

4 Tips for Celebrating New Year’s Eve with Kids

  1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO UNTIL MIDNIGHT. Your children might be night owls, but mine are definitely not (well. . . .they think they are, but the way they behave the following day is a clear sign that they cannot handle a late night). We’ll let them stay up a little past their bedtime, but hopefully all of them will be totally zonked out by ten p.m. I have zero interest in starting the new year with crabby, over-tired children. Also, I like to end every night, even the last one of the year, without children.
  2. PICK ONE OR TWO ACTIVITIES. You know those New Year’s Eve parties you see on Pinterest with activities to do every hour or half-hour? Those make me want to go take a nap. No WAY am I coming up with that many activities. I like the idea of one or two simple things, whether it’s watching a movie as a family, a dance party or playing a few games. No need to make it overly complicated.
  3. A FEW CELEBRATORY ITEMS GO A LONG WAY. I always skip the confetti (because who wants to clean that stuff up?) but I love some fun party hats, party blowers, and sparkling cider. They take virtually no effort and they really add to the celebratory feel of the evening.
  4. START A (SIMPLE) TRADITION. It feels like most families have plenty of Christmas traditions but not a lot of New Year’s Eve ones! If you don’t have one, pick a special treat or activity that you can do every year without too much fuss and make it something to look forward to each year. For us, chocolate fondue has been a great tradition for our family because it’s so social, everyone likes it, and picking out the things we’ll dip is half the fun. Plus, we don’t usually do fondue other times during the year, so it feels extra special (but is super super easy. If you can melt chocolate chips in the microwave, you can make fondue).

new year with kids

Any favorite ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids? I’d love to hear!

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Photos by Heather Mildenstein

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  1. I can't handle anything about New Year's Eve, and our tradition is foir New Year's Day anyway. My mom is from New Orleans and they have the southern tradition of a New Year's Day dinner of pork for health, greens for wealth, and black-eyed peas for happiness. So every New Year's Day, we have a big holiday dinner of pork, greens, black-eyed peas, rice, and cornbread. It makes me feel connected to my own family to make this dinner anywhere I am, knowing that they're making it too wherever they are.

  2. My kids were more night owls, and staying up to 9 PM was definitely doable. So we'd stay up to watch the ball drop in New York, and then bang pots, and then send them to bed. There was also a family tradition of card games, mostly forms of blackjack, with nuts for betting. Hey, counting to twenty one is educational!

    For New Years day we had the cake with treasures cooked inside, but that's probably safer for the school aged crowd.

  3. In Argentina it is very common to have our children up to 10 pm or more. Luckily, my toddler has energy only to 9 or 9.30 pm as latest! But the New Years Eve is different… it is very difficult to send him to bed because he wants to keep on playing with his elder cousins. We eat a lot for dinner, a lot for dessert time and a lot when we make the toast. By midnight, anyone can move from their chair jajajaja

  4. We played a number of boardgames and video games and the kids lasted until midnight (ages 5 and 7). *I* did not. I went to bed at 11:15 and hurray 2016!

  5. I kept meaning to organize some kind of New Years party this year, but never quite pulled it off. My kids are getting bigger now (11, 8 and 6) and wanted to stay up until midnight. I quickly made a little schedule, with different activities every 20 minutes or so starting at 6:30PM(some taking up two or three blocks, like…dinner, and one was an episode of a tv show). I literally threw it together in two minutes, one activity was a dance party, another was playing Bounce Off, another was playing skip-bo, another was a snack break, not intense stuff. Anyway, all this is to say that the best idea ever was giving each kid a block of time to choose what to do. So I did "Ivy's Choice" and "Ben's Choice" etc. It was by far the highlight of the night! Ivy chose to host a party in her room, there were three stations( a game, coloring, and I think another game?), Ben chose to do a "show" with some lego starwars thing he had made (like, basically, we sat and watched him play legos), and Gwen used our balloons and made up a series of "keep it off the floor" games. You probably had to be there but it was one of the most fun nights our family has had, and it reduced my planning. Live up those NYE when your kids go to bed early, it was so weird/fun/exhausting to have three kids up that late, and we did pay, ever so dearly, the next day 😉

  6. we don’t have any New Year’s traditions but maybe we will start this year! by the way, LOVE your shirt! where is it from?

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