New Year’s Eve at home with the kids isn’t a new idea for this year. In general, New Year’s Eve parties for parents are more about trying our very best to stay up till midnight (though 10 PM is more like it) and drinking sparkling cider with our kids as we watch the ball drop on TV. And, honestly, that’s okay. But this year during Covid, even those of you lucky parents who generally spend New Year’s with other over-21s are likely home with the kids.
So this year, we’re bumping this post, to share some of our favorite New Year’s Eve ideas for when you’re at-home with the kids.
To be clear, New Year’s Eve with your kids at home does not have to be an afterthought or even second best to an adult party, and these ideas prove it.
Whether you’re hosting a kid-friendly New Year’s eve party with a limited quaranteam (safely!), or just staying in with your own crew, as we basically have all year, we think some of these ideas are not only fun and special, they may make you wonder why anyone ever bothered to battle the throngs in Time’s Square.
Top: champagne countdown cake at Pizzazzerie
This post has been updated for 2020
1. Plan a countdown to midnight…any time you want! (The kids don’t have to know it’s only 8:30.)
This year, there are plenty of options for family friendly New Year’s Eve programming, but our favorite is Netflix’s 14 different on-demand New Year’s Eve countdowns. Whether you’re currently into Boss Baby, Skylanders Academy, or Fuller House, start the 1-2 minute countdown any time thanks to their YouTube videos, cheers to “midnight” then send everyone off to bed!
For more entertainment ideas until then, you can also check out the Roku Winter Streamland, which is back this year with curated collections of movies, TV shows, live TV channels, kids and family entertainment, plus unlocked premium content.
And of course there’s always every freaking streaming channel you probably own by now!
2. Celebrate the stroke of midnight in another country.
Well, maybe not actually in another country. Just choose a country with a time zone that works better with your kids’ bedtime, and celebrate their own start to 2019. The Pacific islands, Australia, Japan, Russia and South Korea are some of the first to ring in the New Year, so order in your favorite takeout or delivery, then party along at home as those countries set off their own fireworks.
3. Make dinner something a little more special.
Charcuterie board tips via Katy’s Cookin
Start right here with these party-inspired dinner ideas, from burger bars to DIY pizzas, that are all fantastic for a New Year’s Eve at home with the kids.
Or maybe you want a more fancy (but kid-friendly) sit-down dinner, a dinner made up entirely of kid-friendly appetizers, a make-your-own pasta bar or burrito bar, or one of these brilliant food bars perfect for all ages.
A holiday snack tray or charcuterie board is definitely the no-fuss dinner (or dessert!) of the year, and this is a good chance to whip one up yourself.
Or hey, why not make breakfast for dinner? We have ideas beyond pancakes — though nothing wrong with pancakes, either.
4. Mix up special New Year’s Eve mocktails for the kids.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think any dinner at home is much more festive when you mix a fancy drink to go with it. These 7 New Year’s Eve mocktail recipes that Carolyn shared on Cool Mom Eats are perfect if you’re partying with the kids. (And all non-drinking friends and family.)
This Willy Wonka-esque Pop Rocks Pear Punch mocktail for kids from Glitter and Bubbles, above, is definitely a special treat for a special night!
Or check our entire mocktails category for the ideas that appeal most to your all-ages New Year’s Eve partiers.
5. Bake a New Year’s Eve themed dessert together.
If your kids love to bake, be sure to check out our New Year’s week meal plan over at Cool Mom Eats, which includes this fun champagne countdown cake from Pizzazzerie that we found. It’s a clever way to celebrate with kids who have fun when they’re in the kitchen with you.
6. Find a fun way to go through your year in review. (Well, the good parts of it, ideally.)
While there are tons of favorite family card games to play or of course, board games over Zoom with far off family, here’s one more: A printable New Year’s family game from Alice and Lois, which lets you you and the kids laugh (and yeah, maybe even cry) over some of the biggest moments of your year together.
Each card challenges you to think through the funniest moments, biggest lessons, and sweetest memories that we experienced this year, and we could really use that New Year’s 2020 more than ever. (Okay, maybe skip the card about memorable trips.)
7. Make a resolution tree or gratitude garland
Some of us want to keep our Christmas tree decorations up until February this year — but if you’re ready, take your decorations down but keep the tree there. Hand the kids strips of construction paper so they can write their resolutions (or goals, or wishes) for the New Year. Staple the ends to turn them into loops, then hang them from the tree.
If you don’t have a tree, no worries — pop each of those resolutions into a jar, a bowl, or put them into a book. Even better — you can pull them out again next year to see how many goals you all achieved.
Alternatively a DIY gratitude garland is a simple craft to help us all be more thoughtful and grateful in the coming year — and it makes a terrific New Year’s Eve activity at home with the kids.
Also, be sure to try this wonderful idea for making one-word New Year’s resolutions, which we swear is the trick to making ones you can finally keep!
8. Host a board game tournament.
Are you gamed-out yet? Good! Then pick three to four of your favorite family board games — you can try some of our favorite card games and board games for families, or grab something new to change up your game shelves — and set up a family tournament to see who is the ultimate family gaming champion. If you’ve got a larger group, check out our picks for favorite board games for 6 or more players or even these 20 fun, educational board games that our kids came to love as homeschool activities.
9. Make your own silly party glasses.
Follow this simple tutorial at Handmade Charlotte to make your own DIY New Year’s Eve glasses from pipe cleaners and other basic supplies…then wear them while you watch the ball drop! A craft project keeps everyone busy, and they’re so much cooler than buying the cardboard ones from the store.
10. Conduct year-end interviews with the kids.
Grab your phone, sit your kids down, then video them answering questions about their year. What skill did you learn this year? What do you want to be when you grow up? What was one funny thing that happened during school this year? What’s one thing you learned about yourself this year? What’s one thing we did that you want to do again next year? What do you want to learn more about next year?
You’ll look back on the videos later and be so glad you did this.
And hey, they can conduct the same interviews with grandparents and other relatives over FaceTime for an extra-special idea to connect your households.
11. Watch all the holiday movies you haven’t gotten around to yet.
There are just so many terrific choices yet, from the classics like Elf or It’s a Wonderful Life, to new movies like the documentary about Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (Ibi’s review will make you want to watch it twice), Soul, Jingle Jangle…you name it!
12. Make some glittery New Year’s Eve slime.
If your kids are still slime-obsessed like ours are, make a big batch of safe, non-toxic slime from one of these terrific recipes. To make things more celebratory, try the instructions for festive New Year’s Eve slime at Little Bins, Little Hands seen here. Might as well start the next year off as parent of the year, right?
13. Create your own balloon drop.
OMG, my kids would absolutely love it if I organized a DIY balloon drop like this one from One Good Thing. If you’ve got a ceiling fan, you can follow these instructions to surprise the kids (or just delight them) when the clock strikes midnight — or, you know, 9PM.
Yes, it’s a bit of work. But it’s no glitter bomb.