New Year’s Eve at home with the kids isn’t exactly like New Year’s Eve home without them. New Year’s Eve parties for parents are more about trying our very best to stay up till midnight (though 10 p.m. is more like it) and drinking fun cocktails with our kids as we watch the ball drop on TV — or even a fake ball drop. But hey, it can be more fun than that! So we’re sharing some of our favorite New Year’s Eve ideas for when you’re home with the kids.

Top photo by Wout Vanacker on Unsplash
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Related: 11 fun New Year’s Eve dinner (and dessert) ideas for kids

Fun Ideas for New Year’s Eve Home With the Kids. (As In, Fun for You Too, Parents!)

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 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.

1. Plan a countdown to midnight…any time you want! (The kids don’t have to know it’s only 8:30.)

Kid- friendly New Year's Eve countdown by magic move on YouTube

This year, there are plenty of options for family friendly New Year’s Eve programming, but our favorite is an on-demand New Year’s Eve countdown made just for kids. We’ve shared our favorites on Cool Mom Tech, including this sophisticated version from magic move.  (Pro tip: Queue them up in advance so you don’t have to watch the ad first.)

2. Celebrate the stroke of midnight…only 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 2024. The Pacific islands, Australia, Japan, Ukraine and South Korea are some of the first to ring in the New Year, so order in your favorite takeout honoring the country or make your own kid-friendly dish, then party along at home.

3. Make dinner a little more special. 

David Chang Momofoku noodles: good luck foods for New Year's Eve

We’ve found so many fun kid-friendly recipes for New Year’s Eve and they’re all worth checking out. Start right here with these party-inspired dinner ideas, from burger bars to DIY pizzas. 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. Or hey, why not make breakfast for dinner?  We have ideas beyond pancakes — though nothing wrong with pancakes, either.

Tip: Noodles are a traditional New Year good luck food that kids happen to love. May we recommend picking ups some of David Chang’s Momofuko noodles (above) and making them at home? Who could say no to that!

4.  Mix up special New Year’s Eve mocktails for the kids.

New Year's Eve mocktails for kids: Pop Rocks pear punch | Glitter and Bubbles
 Pop Rocks Pear Punch mocktail for kids from Glitter and Bubbles

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. Shirley Temples are always a favorite, or check out these 7 New Year’s Eve mocktail recipes that Carolyn shared on Cool Mom Eats — perfect if you’re partying with the kids, or any non-drinking friends and family. Like this Willy Wonka-esque Pop Rocks Pear Punch mocktail for kids (above( from Glitter and Bubbles, which  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.

New Year's Eve with the kids: Countdown Cake at PizzazzerieChampagne countdown cake from Pizzazzerie

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.)

Free printable year in review New Year's game from Alice and Lois: great for New Year's Eve with kids!

While there are tons of favorite family card games to play, 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 funniest moments, biggest lessons, and sweetest memories of your year together.  Speaking of which…

7. Make a gratitude garland

DIY Gratitude Garland tutorial: Write down what you're thankful for on each cut-out.© Kate Etue for Cool Mom Picks

Gratitude practice is always a good idea. A DIY gratitude garland (above) 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.

This beautiful Scrabble game from Anthropologie makes a wonderful giftLuxury Scrabble Game from Anthropologie or you know, just the regular Scrabble is fine

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. And yes, video games count too. Just Dance 2024, anyone?

9. Make a fun silly New Year’s Eve party craft

New Year's Eve activities with kid: Make your own DIY silly party glasses with this tutorial from Handmade Charlotte

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.

New Year's Eve with the kids: Make NYE Slime at Little Bins, Little Hands

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 from Little Bins, Little Hands seen here.

New Year's Eve candy watch craft for kids from Handmade Charlotte

Also, we loooove this adorable DIY also from Handmade Charlotte for candy New Year’s Eve watches. Easy — and edible!

10.  Conduct year-end interviews with the kids.

Grab your phone, sit your kids down, then video them answering a series 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. (Psst…it’s also a great idea for the kids to interview the grandparents.)

11. Watch all the holiday movies you haven’t gotten around to yet.

There are just so many terrific choices across all the streaming networks, from classics like Elf or It’s a Wonderful Life, to newer seasonal documentaries like the one about Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. (Ibi’s review will make you want to watch it twice.) It doesn’t even have to be a holiday movie — if you’ve got older kids, watch Maestro on Netflix!

12. Create your own balloon drop.

New Year's Eve with the kids: Balloon Drop at One Good Thing

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, 9 p.m. Parenting tip: Skip the confetti-filled ballon idea, unless you’re outside. Or just skip it.