New Year's Eve traditions for kids

The Best New Year’s Eve Traditions with Kids

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Are you looking for family-friendly New Year’s Eve ideas? I grew up absolutely loving New Year’s Eve, so let me share some fun ideas with you! For years we would get together with my extended family and have tons of fun! My parents did lots of little things to make it special. Now that I’m a mom, I want to start my own fun with our family! Below are a ton of ideas for New Year’s Eve traditions with kids that will help your whole family enjoy the celebration of another trip around the sun! I’m sure you can find something that’s just right for you!

What can a family do on New Year’s Eve at home?

If you are looking for some ideas to celebrate New Year’s at home with your family, look no further! All of the ideas below are something you can do at home with just you and your family. But you can also add more people to your party if you want! It’s up to you!

What are some family traditions for New Year’s?

Get some festive outfits/accessories

Dressing the part is always a fun way to bring extra hype to any holiday! You can go all out wearing the classic colors-black, silver, and gold. Feel free to add sequins or sparkles if you are into that sort of thing!

Or if you are looking for a more low-key option for you and yours, get some New Year-specific gear that has the year on it. Get hats, glasses, sashes, necklaces, whatever. A lot of stores carry small party favor-ish trinkets that will help your fam feel festive! This set includes hats, necklaces, headbands, and more!

Decorate the house!

Sometimes half the fun of celebrating is getting the look right! After you get gear for you and the fam to wear, try getting some fun decor for the house! Keep it simple by blowing up some balloons, or go bananas with tinsel, lights, and maybe even your own photo booth spot! You could also get your own disco ball for a ball drop right at home!

If your kids are old enough, let them be part of the decorating! You can pick out decorations together, and let them decide what will go where. Making your kids part of the process will likely get them excited to celebrate with you!

Invite some friends over

New Year’s Eve is one of the few holidays that is not particularly family-oriented. So if you don’t have plans with anyone already, you can start the party! The choice is yours- invite just a few friends, or make it a huge get-together? Both options can be fun!

Just be sure to put the invite out early enough so your guests have time to plan!

Make a special meal

If you’re anything like me, one of the ways you celebrate is with food! So if you want to celebrate, make a special meal! Sometimes it can be fun to make a fancy meal or a meal that has particular meaning to your family.

I love to enlist my kids in making family meals because there is so much to learn!

Related Article: Cooking with Kids

Have a snack night!

You can certainly choose a fancy meal, but my favorite for New Year’s Eve traditions with kids is to focus on snack foods! Make a charcutie board, or mix and match any number of great finger foods for a fun way to dine on the last day of the year! If you need some snack food inspo, check out this article from the Pioneer Woman. She’s always got great ideas!

And again let the kids help with prepping the food and putting it out. The more they can be involved, the better!

Feel fancy with some sparkling juice!

Have you guys ever had that sparkling grape juice stuff? It honestly kind of looks like wine and has some bubbles in it to make it extra fun! This drink is perfect for New Year’s Eve, because it feels extra festive and it’s not something you probably give to your kids very often. You can take it a step further, and even get fancy glasses for everyone!

Obviously, you can have your own beverage of choice, too. You might pick wine, or another spirit to ring in the New Year. However, you can also join in with the kids and drink some the sparkling grape juice. My husband loves it to this day, likely because of all the fun memories of drinking it for the holidays.

Do a “Year in Review”

I LOVE looking back on past years and reflecting on fun times together. You might pull up some pictures of vacations or special days and talk about the fun memories made. Kids change a lot in a year, so it can be fun for them to look back on pictures from a year ago. You can go through month by month and think about one (or more) specific thing that happened and talk about it together.

Of course, not all things are happy. Maybe your family dealt with some really difficult things in the last year. I think it might be cathartic to talk about it together, anyway. Create space for your children to discuss the hard or sad things.

Just be sure to try to include both kinds of reflection: the positive and the negative.

Write family New Year’s resolutions

I grew up as a kid always writing New Year’s resolutions, and I kind of love it. I know a lot of people say that it is overdone, or that you aren’t likely to stick to the goals, but I still think it’s a good exercise. Writing resolutions is a good way to reflect on how things have been going and set goals in order to make improvements in your lives.

So, why not write goals with your family? Talk about things you like to do, things that have been hard, and ways you can make some changes.

You might decide that you should have more family nights. Perhaps you all need to work more on keeping the house clean by re-organizing the way you do chores. Or maybe you want to have friends over more often, read more together, or go to church as a family. Just brainstorm with your family and come up with a few things to work on together.

Have a dance party

Dance parties are always fun! (Unless you have teenagers that think you are utterly lame, but you can take the opportunity to embarrass them a little!)

You can make your own family favorite playlist, or tune in to one of the several stations that has artists performing. Either way, just be silly and enjoy it! Depending on the age of your kids, you can all take turns teaching each other new dance moves. The giggles will be plentiful, I’m sure!

Make your own photo shoot/photo booth

Is a party really great if you don’t have photo evidence? Not these days! So capitalize on it, and make sure to do a New Year’s Eve photo shoot with all the decor and/or props you got for the party. Take some silly pics, and maybe a few where all the kids are smiling at the camera (good luck!).

Or you might want to go all out and do an official “photo booth”. Make a special spot in your house for picture taking. Set it up with props like hats, scarves, and glasses for an extra dash of fun.

New Year’s Eve Activities with Toddlers

Celebrate at 12 noon (if you have kids that can’t stay up until midnight)

If you have a toddler, keeping them up until midnight might sound like the worst party in the world (sounds terrible to me!). But if you don’t want your little one to miss out on all the fun, celebrate New Year’s Eve at 12 noon. Our local library threw a party like this once, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since!

It allows you to celebrate with your child, without ruining the night or the next day! It also means that you can have a grown up celebration at midnight. Definitly a win/win!

Have your own ball(oon) drop!

One of my favorite New Year’s Eve traditions with kids is making your own balloon drop. When I think of New Year’s, I instantly think of the ball drop. Since most of us will probably never get to Times Square to see the ball drop in person, we can make our own balloon drop at our house!

We did this with our kids one year and it was magical! They loved that we did a countdown (to noon of course), and then we released the balloons all over them with exciting music playing in the background. It was super fun and we will continue that tradition for sure!

I’m no expert in making balloon drops, but you can check out this article on how to DIY one that won’t disappoint!

Get some noisemakers or make your own!

What toddler doesn’t love to make lots of unnecessary, loud noise? New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to let them go all out! Let them make lots of noise as they ring in the new year!

You can do toilet paper kazoos (use an old toilet paper roll and secure a small piece of wax paper to one end with a rubber band). You can also make a shaker by using a plastic egg and putting in rice or beans and taping it shut. Try making a little drum with a leftover container like an ice cream bucket or a big yogurt tub.

After you make the noisemaker, let your child go wild on decorating it!

If you aren’t wanting to make your own, you can always buy some noise makers, too! There are always plenty of NYE noisemakers to be had!

New Year’s Eve Traditions with Older Kids

Make a playlist

Music can really set the right mood for your festivities. Let your child help pick out songs that will be the soundtrack to your party. Pick songs that are good to dance to, or specific New Year’s Eve songs (Songs like “Auld Lang Syne” or Taylor Swift’s “New Year’s Day” are a great start!)

You can also add in new music that came out in the last year or just family favorites! Make it fun, and make it yours!

Try some classic board games

A classic New Year’s Eve tradition with the whole family is to play games. There are tons of board games out there for all ages. Playing games is a fun way to wait until the ball drop (or the balloon drop!).

In my family growing up, we had a huge board game tournament complete with point systems and different games each year. I always looked forward to it with great anticipation! We did silly games like “Hungry, Hungry Hippo”, and more difficult games like “Scrabble”. The variety was always an added layer of fun!

Do a minute to win it contest

If you haven’t tried a few minute-to-win-it contests with your family, New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to start! If you’ve never heard of minute-to-win-it games, the overall idea is simple. Complete a given task in under one minute to win.

There are TONS of variations of this game, like placing an oreo on your forehead and trying to get it into your mouth without using your hands. (That’s a guaranteed laugh and a delicious treat rolled into one!) There’s another one where you have to move as many chocolate kisses from one bowl to another using chopsticks.

For more family-friendly minute-to-win-it games, check out this post by Mom Loves Best.


New Year’s Eve is one of the few times in the year where many states allow fireworks. You can choose to light off some of your own, or you can check to see if there are any shows going on around you to bring in the new year.

After browsing through the list of great New Year’s Eve traditions with kids, I hope you find what will be the most fun and exciting for you and your family! I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

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