25 Ideas for a Fun and Festive New Year’s Eve at Home with Kids
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Spending New Year’s Eve at home with kids? Us, too!
And truthfully, it’s my top choice.
With a) a toddler who still wakes up random times in the night and has a perpetual cold this winter and b) two older kids who have been on winter break since December 17th, I’m TIRED!
Ditch my leggings and hoodie for fancy going-out clothes and make-up? No thank you!
Oh, and also, my sleep is negatively affected if I have more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks, and I struggle to speak in complete sentences by about 9:30.
In conclusion, I’d definitely recommend motherhood if you want to turn into a real life-of-the-party kinda person! 🙃
But in all honesty, I’ve found that even though the New Year’s Eve parties might not look *quite* the same as they did in my 20s, a celebration at home with kids can actually be a blast.
Here are 25 fun ideas to spend some special time as a family ringing in 2023.
Decorations for New Year’s Eve at Home with Kids
Turn your Christmas tree into a New Year’s tree.
This tradition accomplishes THREE things at the same time:
- It creates a festive focal point for your New Year’s Eve celebration.
- It provides a fun family activity.
- It makes the task of undecorating the Christmas tree way less depressing.
Here’s how you achieve the transformation: first, take down all the ornaments but keep the strings of lights.
Second, accessorize your tree.
You can use beaded necklaces, photo booth props (it works great to poke the sticks between the branches), oversized sunglasses, a bowtie, a big pair of lips, etc.
If making your own decorations from paper or cardstock, make sure to leave room for holes where you can tie strings and hang them on the tree.
Add a speech bubble for fun effect. Perhaps your tree, having witnessed the transformation of your living room from Christmas zone to New Year’s zone, can be saying, “Epic party, dudes!” (Okay, I wasn’t planning on a speech bubble, but now I totally want that one.)
Finally, place a party hat or other fun hat on the top of the tree to take the place of the star or angel. Dollar Tree sells giant party hats that do the job perfectly.
Later in the evening, you can write down wishes for the new year and hang them as ornaments on the tree. More on that below.
Light candles and start a fire in the fireplace, if you have one.
Place a few glow sticks in vases or jars.
We generally don’t use glow sticks since they’re not great from an environmental perspective, but we were gifted a whole bunch of them that will last for quite some time.
I’m taking the middle-of-the-road approach by breaking out the glow sticks only for special occasions (like New Year’s!).
Blow up some balloons.
Some families stage their own balloon drop and swear it’s super easy, but that whole part about getting things to stick to the ceiling makes me skeptical (if you feel up for the challenge, this looks like a good tutorial).
The other downside of the balloon drop is that the kids don’t get to play with the balloons since they (the balloons, not the kids) don’t appear until the midnight countdown.
I say get those balloons circulating early to add to the party ambiance.
You might also consider filling a few balloons with confetti and letting each kiddo pop one at midnight. We haven’t done this activity before but I’m going to give it a try this year (using newspaper for DIY confetti that’s biodegradable).
Apparel and Accessories for New Year’s Eve at Home with Kids
Keep the cozy pants and the hoodie, but add some bling!
Get some accessories — the bolder and tackier, the better!
Hit up the dollar store or the Target Dollar Spot for funny glasses, funky hats, tiaras, crowns, glitter wigs, headbands, and beaded necklaces. It’s so much fun to wear goofy accessories and take pictures.
We have a stash of items that don’t feature the specific year so that we can use them over and over again.
Make 2023 glasses for the whole family using pipe cleaners.
This fun idea is number 32 on this list.
Print off some party hats that your kids can color for their own custom look.
Here are three options, all free printables:
Food and Drink for New Year’s Eve at Home with Kids
Yes, you can go all out with a fancy meal, white tablecloth, and gorgeous centerpiece. But consider your audience – simple food presented in novel ways is really all that’s required for kids to be wowed.
Here are six easy food and drink ideas to make the night festive.
For your main meal:
Get food from a favorite restaurant, or make it a point to celebrate a new year by trying a new place.
Bake pizza in the shape “2023.”
This simple yet festive idea makes dinner easy peasy, and pizza’s about as close as you can get to a meal that pleases everyone.
Roast hot dogs or make pie iron pizzas in the fireplace.
Full disclosure: we’re trying this out for the first time this year and we’re excited, but I don’t know how/if it’s actually going to work.
I’ll report back in my NYE post next year whether this was a good idea or a terrible one!
Have a picnic.
Whatever you decide to eat, consider having your meal picnic-style.
Grab a blanket, spread it out on the living room floor, and watch your kid delight in the prospect of an indoor picnic.
Pro tip: avoid drink spills by putting a cake or loaf pan in the middle of the blanket and requiring the kids to keep their drink in it between sips.
Roast marshmallows in the fireplace and make s’mores.
It’s a fun treat to enjoy out of season!
Make an ice cream sundae bar.
Ice cream + toppings galore = kids jumping up and down with excitement. Use whatever combination of toppings you want. My kids’ favorites include sprinkles, M&M’s, hot fudge, caramel, strawberry slices, and whipped cream.
For your midnight toast:
Make some mocktails.
If you want to make it super easy, grab a drink you don’t normally let your kids have — lemonade, fruit punch, Sprite, etc. – and you’re done.
But it could also be fun to involve your kiddos in picking out a special drink for toasting. Here are some great ideas for mocktails to accompany the adults’ champagne toast.
Make sure to serve the drinks in champagne flutes, even if they’re just plastic, for full effect.
Family Activities for New Year’s Eve at Home with Kids
You’ll want fun activities planned to pass the time and build excitement in the hours leading up to the countdown. Here are some ideas:
Reflect on things you want to leave behind in the past year.
Give each family member a few strips of paper to write down things they want to leave behind in 2022 (younger kids can draw pictures or get help from a parent or older sibling).
These things could relate to personal struggles or to bigger societal issues. Once written on the strips of paper, these things be shared with one another or kept private, depending on your family members’ preferences.
Then take turns burning them up. You can do this a couple ways.
If you have a fireplace or firepit, take turns crumpling the papers and throwing them into the fire (it is this practice that’s resulted in our family referring to the things we want to leave behind simply as “crumples”).
If you don’t have a big fire option, light the end of the paper by dipping it into a candle and dropping the paper onto a ceramic plate, where it will burn out.
Write down New Year’s resolutions/intentions for the new year.
After you’ve listed out the crappy stuff and burned it up, think about good stuff for the coming year!
Using small squares of tagboard, or regular paper glued to cardboard to give some sturdiness, have everyone write down some intentions for the new year. Punch holes in them, add string or ribbon, and hang them on your New Year’s tree.
Have a family dance party (add glow sticks or balloons for some extra fun).
Make your own playlist featuring your family’s favorite songs, or stream a dance party mix from your favorite music service. You could also pay tribute to this particular year by rocking out to the biggest hits of 2022.
Add glow sticks or balloons for extra fun.
Even though you might play board games on other occasions, it’s extra special when the whole family joins in.
If you’re looking for fun games that are more active, check out these “minute-to-win-it” games.
Have a family movie night.
Find a light-hearted movie the whole family will enjoy.
Do a New Year’s Eve ad libs activity.
My six-year-old giggles like crazy every time we do these. I’m excited to add this element to our New Year’s Eve celebration this year. Here are six options.
Create a time capsule.
Want to capture how everyone changes from year to year? Create a family time capsule!
Have your family members fill out a questionnaire with their current age, favorite show, favorite memory from the year, etc.
A lot of the templates you’ll find are designed with kids in mind, but I personally think adults should do them, too — just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you stop growing and changing!
Then put the completed questionnaires in a jar labeled with the year. Store the jar with your other holiday decorations and bring it out for review next New Year’s Eve.
Over the years, you’ll gather a whole collection of questionnaires that will be so fun to look back at.
If you want to give some historical context, you could add a slip of paper with current prices of items like gas and milk, the year’s number one songs, what movies you saw in the theater, who won major elections, etc.
Create a slide show of your family’s year in review.
My photos are a hot mess (#2023 goals), but I’d love to do this in future years! I know my kids would love this fun way to reminisce and see how much they’ve grown and changed in the last year.
Here’s a tutorial on how to create a slide show in Google Photos.
Make a family vision board.
The end of the year is a great time to reflect on your family’s goals, values, and identity.
Gather up old magazines, grab a piece of tagboard or big piece of paper, and let the cutting and gluing begin! This activity gets everyone involved and can spark some great conversations.
When creating your board, think about your family’s values, fun things you want to do together, new habits you want to form, vacations you might want to take, etc.
When you’re done, make sure to hang your vision board in a place you’ll all see it often.
Create your own noisemakers.
For an easy way to
give yourself a pounding headache create celebratory noise, fill plastic containers with rice, beans, or pasta, or just grab some wooden spoons and pots and pans.
Let your kiddo go crazy ringing — or shaking, pounding, and banging — in the new year!
Do a fabulous midnight countdown…just not at midnight.
The worst way to start the new year is with cranky, sleep-deprived kids.
Skip the late night by doing your countdown an hour or so later than the normal kids’ bedtimes – late enough to feel special and give your kiddo that “oooh, I’m up SO late!” feeling, early enough to avoid wreaking havoc.
For the excitement of a live New Year’s eve countdown and some international flair, figure out a country whose time zone aligns with your planned “midnight” time and find a livestream (e.g. if I’m in Minnesota and want our family’s countdown to happen at 9 pm, I could try to find a live broadcast from Argentina, which is 3 hours later).
You can also enjoy the excitement of a countdown through a kid-friendly countdown. I think I’m going to go with #5 in this list from The Everymom.
Also make sure to have a fabulous rendition of Auld Lang Syne at the ready.
With a little planning, New Year’s Eve at home with kids is super fun and memorable. I hope this list gives you some ideas you’re excited to try.
Wishing you and your loved ones a joy-filled celebration. Happy New Year!
The idea of burning something we want to leave behind from the previous year seems very therapeutic.