Remember celebrating new year’s eve before you had kids? It used to be several weeks of party planning, outfit planning and drinking fancy bubbles. Now, the best bubbles are one of those automatic bubble-making machines to keep the four year old entertained. We’ve spent the last 7 new year’s eves at home, usually with friends, just to keep it easy with the kids. And let’s be realistic: if you’re at home, you’re possibly a little over constructing new Christmas toys and feeding a houseful of hungry kids all day long. My kids have never once made it to midnight, but love NYE because they feel like it’s a ‘party night’ for them, too.
We’ve usually had fairly casual drinks but have always had activities lined up for the kids, to keep them entertained and us sane.
So, as a service to other parents out there, here are my top 10 things to do with your kids on new year’s eve. Some are things you can go see/do and others are great for keeping the kids happy at home, if you have friends over for a celebration.
– early. I know the city fireworks at midnight are a huge drawcard for lots of families, but the idea of dragging my kids through packed crowds, on public transport, to sit amongst a pack of total strangers, leaves me cold. What we have done in the past, is work out a few local beaches that had good views of local fireworks, head there for an early picnic and game of beach cricket, watch some fireworks, then get the kids home to bed relatively early, so we can have a NYE drink. Some local councils also do early ‘family’ fireworks in parks, so look around your local area.
Go camping (at home or away)
– of course, if you have planned in advance, book somewhere and go camping. Still is my kid’s favourite thing. If you pick a family friendly holiday park, you’ll probably be surrounded by plenty of other kids riding bikes with glow sticks, trekking to and from the local beach or river and eating BBQ late into the night. Otherwise, put up a tent in the back yard and have a ‘camping night’ at home: BBQ, cook marshmallows and tell stories.
– if you’re within an hour of the beach, embrace the fact that we live on a big island and have a beach picnic for dinner – or even just fish and chips. Build sandcastles, write in the sand, play beach cricket and generally try to wear the kids out before you get home! If it’s not warm, snuggle under a blanket and tell stories and make resolutions.
Make your own party hats
– I’ve bought plain, inexpensive cardboard ones from a local $2 shop before and have also made my own from sheets of craft cardboard and stapled on thin elastic – whichever is easier for you. Then, I put a pile of them on a table with craft glue, glitter, pictures cut from magazines, textas, leftover Christmas tinsel . . . whatever I have handy, really.
Party table for the kids
– we often have friends over who also have kids. So, I get my kids to help set up a ‘party table’ for the kids to eat at. I get out any leftover Christmas bon bons, get the kids to make place cards and cut out big paper stars for each place. We put pens/pencils on the table and get the kids to write their ‘new year wishes’ on the stars and decorate them to take home. We also make sure we have a supply of glow sticks and sparklers, for when it gets dark.
The kids help me make party food during the day (usually, sausage rolls, sushi or ribbon sandwiches, dips with veggies, fruit kebabs) and we make ‘fruit water’ by filling jugs with water and letting the kids choose whatever fruit they want to float in the water jugs: berries and citrus are good. The kids love making home made icy poles in the lead up to having friends over. They ‘design’ their own icy poles and we freeze them in layers, to be brought out as their special dessert to share with friends. My daughter favours strawberry, yoghurt and honey and my son prefers banana, cocoa and almond milk, both with big chunks of fruit left in to make them pretty. Icy pole moulds are pretty cheap and get a good work out over Summer time at our place. Just don’t leave them in the backyard with the dog, when finished. Lesson learnt the hard way.
- New year’s eve interview – print out an ‘interview sheet’ for everyone at your place. You might do the interviewing or give the job to a child who can read and write. Questions could be about reflecting on the year they’ve had and wishes for the coming year. Scan or photograph them and email them to yourself to have handy for next year – you can read them out at the 2017 NYE family party and create a new tradition!
Create a countdown
– if you think there’s a chance your kids will be staying up until midnight, creating a countdown is fun. You could sneakily help them learn to tell time, as well, by creating a clock face with movable hands (use a plastic or paper plate, stick on numbers and cut out hands to attach with a split pin or press stud), so they can change the time every half hour then write the time and how long it is until midnight strikes. A long piece of butcher’s paper would be perfect for this. Or, if your kids are younger, you could blow up a row of balloons and write a time on each one – they are burst at that time, to reveal a little note you’ve put inside. It could be a joke or an instruction.
– lots of parties have a fairly professional photo booth set up, but you can do your own relatively inexpensive one at home. Choose a spot and either use a blank wall or hang some sparkly fabric as a backdrop. Gather some fun props for the kids: my kids love dressing up in some of our clothes (hats, bags and sunglasses), which I bulk out with items from the op shop and $2 shop. You could take some great photos on your iPhone or just give the kids a disposable camera for the evening, to take their own.
Create a disco
– the grandparents gave one of our kids a rotating disco light, which pretty much exploded their minds. That, combined with a few glow sticks and a Michael Jackson playlist is all they need for the best disco ever. Teach them a few dances: think The Bus Stop, Nut Bush and Macarena, and they’ll love it. Mine love it even more when the parents have broached the third bottle of wine and take over the playlist . . . I have very happy memories of my own parents showing us the dances they did to music they loved as teenagers.
- Party games – this one could be a 10-part blog post in itself because there’s endless options for party games and activities at home with kids. So, for the sake of brevity, I’m going to just share a few of my current favourite links to activities:
http://howdoesshe.com/15-fun-new-years-eve-activities-for-kids-or-adults/ (I love the make-your-own time capsule in this one – get kids to fill it then open it next year . . . or 5 years if they’re patient)
http://igamemom.com/new-year-printables-for-kids/ (some handy printables here!)
http://www.123homeschool4me.com/2014/12/new-years-activities-for-kids.html (they have some free printable photo booth props)
http://lemonlimeadventures.com/5-tips-new-years-eve-kids/ (I love the ‘It’s Midnight somewhere’ activity in this one!)
So there you have it! We hope you all have a fun-filled and safe new year with your families.
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