As the holiday season is in full swing, many people forget to make plans for New Year’s Eve. This holiday celebrates the changing of the calendar year and it’s the perfect time to celebrate big moments in your household and reflect on the fun that you had in the last year. It’s also a good time to practice a reset and celebrate the ability to start a fresh new year filled with possibilities. Enjoy a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party with your whole crew this year, either at home or at a new vacation destination.
We’ve pulled together some ideas to help you get the ball rolling. There are some fun party ideas to try in your own home with a group of any size. Create a fun party atmosphere with a small budget and a tiny bit of creativity and everyone will look forward to your NYE parties for years to come.
If you crave an escape at the end of the holiday season and winter break, consider getting out of town for the holiday weekend. New Year’s Eve is known as a big party holiday, but that doesn’t mean that you have to leave the kids at home. There are plenty of kid-friendly New Year’s celebrations that everyone will love. Kick off the new year while exploring a new destination with the family and spending quality time together. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, so browse the list and start making your plans.
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Fun Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Party Ideas at Home
If you’re planning a fun New Year’s Eve celebration with your family and friends in your home, we’ve got a few ideas to help you throw a fun party. These options help make sure the kids feel included in the party and can create some fun new traditions with the family. Start making your plans now for your NYE gathering.
Fun Dance Party Playlist
One way for some guaranteed family fun is to enjoy a dance party at your New Year’s Eve party. Put together a playlist using your favorite songs, plus some favorites of your children. Turn up the music and turn down the lights and get out there and dance. Make it into a dance contest or just allow everyone to let loose and have some fun. It’s the perfect way to celebrate with your favorite people.
Confetti Balloons for a Countdown
Balloon drops are an epic part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Bring that fun to your party at home with confetti balloons. All you need is a bag of shiny or sparkling confetti (you can also make your own by cutting up scratch paper at home) and some balloons. Fill up a balloon for each hour that your celebration will span. For example, if you’re starting at 8 PM and going until midnight, fill up five balloons. Each hour, you can pop one balloon in the countdown and let the confetti fall with a cheer. It’s a very affordable, but fun way to enjoy the countdown and utilize balloons creatively and joyously.
Fun Beverage Bar
For bigger groups, a fun hosting idea is to set out a beverage bar and allow people to help themselves to a fun drink that they can customize. It helps cut down on the time you’ll spend serving everyone as well, so you can enjoy the party more. With adults, you can include some boozy options and cocktail fixings, but to make it family-friendly, consider a hot chocolate station for everyone. There are so many ways to customize your hot cocoa using flavors that you stir in or toppings. It serves as decoration too because nothing is more photogenic than a table covered in marshmallows, chocolate, and candies.
Some Party Games
Board game nights are always a fun family activity. Older kids can take on the adults and compete in games like charades, Pictionary, and other family favorites. Pull out a collection of your board games and make some snacks. Make it an annual tradition to play games on New Year’s Eve with your friends and family. You could organize it like a tournament and have trophies and prizes for the winning teams.
Unique Midnight Toast
When the clock strikes midnight, it’s customary to have a toast and clink glasses celebrating NYE and all the good that is to come in the new year. If you’re celebrating with the whole family, you can still have a toast, just utilize mocktails or sparkling cider for the kids. Another popular option for young kids is a milk and cookies toast or some fancy milkshakes topped with whipped cream. Make it a special toast with the kids, and let them add some words or wishes for the new year. Try to snap a picture so you can add it to your memory book.
Sparklers to Light Up Yard
New Year’s Eve happens during the time of year when the nights are extra long. Have some fun outside using fun items that light up. Glow sticks are safe if you have very young children. Sparklers are a popular option if everyone is old enough to follow the safety rules while holding the lit sparkler. Keep up your holiday lights well into the new year and enjoy playing outside in the twinkling lights during the last sunset of the year.
DIY Party Hats and Noisemakers
There’s no better way to say Happy New Year than making a bunch of noise and cheering loudly with the people you love most. Prepare for the big countdown to midnight (or whichever time you chose to celebrate) by creating some noisemakers and fun party hats. These will make some great party favors that your guests can take home with them too.
One simple way to make your own noisemakers involves paper plates. Each person needs two paper plates they decorate the bottoms of. Use markers, crayons, paint, glitter, and anything else you can attach. Once they are decorated, add some dried beans or similar small pieces of something to one of the plates. Put the other plate on top with the decorated side out and glue them together. Tape works too, you just want to make sure that the plates stay glued together so you don’t lose the pieces that make the noise. Another option is to reuse water bottles by filling them with beans and decorating the outside. And if you don’t want to make your own, pots and pans work great to bang together too when the clock strikes midnight.
Consider what foods are favorites for the entire family and plan a fun dinner around them. Do you have a very adventurous family? Consider taking a trip around the world with dishes from different countries to eat throughout the day. Don’t worry, you can order takeout if there’s something that’s above your expertise in the kitchen (or you just want to avoid dishes.)
Depending on the age of your kids, you might want to even include them in the dinner prep. Organize a pizza dinner where each member of the family and any guests can build their own pizza. Put out some of the most common toppings, and maybe some weird experimental options too. Once the dough is flattened and covered in tasty toppings, you can cook them in a pizza oven. Desserts are good for this too. If you want to keep your main meal simple, you can invite everyone to decorate their cookies or cupcakes and make fun and colorful creation.
Dress up with a fun theme or get dolled up for dinner with the family. Use this holiday as your excuse to have a fancy night. If you don’t want to pull out your Sunday best, you can take this idea in the opposite direction and wear fun pajamas, like matching onesies. Even if you’re having a pretty standard night at home, you can up the fun levels with an assigned and festive dress code.
Props for a Fun Photo Booth
If you’re throwing a New Year’s bash, set up a fun photo booth with props and simple costumes. Find fun party favors with the new year on them, like glasses or glittery headbands, or hats. You can make a simple background with a sheet or fun wrapping paper. Use a polaroid camera or just a phone so that you can print photos on the printer. These are great party favors if you’re having friends or extended family over, or you can just keep them and collect them from your own family throughout the years.
Reflection on the Past Year
One of the best parts about New Year’s Eve is the opportunity to reflect and celebrate the fun things and important moments from the year. There are many fun ways to do this. You can put out the supplies and have everyone work together to build a time capsule. Invite each member of your family to choose a few of their favorite small items and souvenirs from the year. Print out some photos and write little notes documenting things you want to remember when you open them in the future. It’s a fun DIY activity for the whole family and can be done a hundred ways.
If you want something a bit more simplistic, take some time over dinner or with a fun mocktail toast to go around and share a top memory from the year. Invite each person to share something they learned in the last twelve months or something they are most proud of. You’ll often be surprised at the things that stick out in your child’s memories for the year.
Fun Family Activities on New Year’s Day
What better way to kick off a brand new calendar year than a super fun family activity? Decide how you want to celebrate the first of the year on New Year’s Eve. Try something outside, like ice skating or sledding. Plan a fun scavenger hunt in your city, or check out a new restaurant or museum as a family.
If you want something more laid back, you can plan a fun breakfast spread when everyone wakes up. Make pancakes, waffles, or whatever the favorite of the household is. Let everyone enjoy breakfast in bed or set up a fun picnic in the living room in their pajamas. It’s all about spending time together and enjoying the holiday doing something that you all enjoy.
Places to Visit for a Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a family vacation somewhere new this year. Many destinations put together family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations. This list has something for all families, from fireworks displays to face painting to unique countdowns at age-appropriate times. Explore somewhere new with the family and ring in the new year in style this year.
Beach Ball Drop in Panama City, Florida
Escape the cold weather and enjoy a kid-friendly New Year’s celebration in Panama City. The entire pier shuts down for traffic so people can enjoy all the festivities safely. The main attraction is the beach ball drop. The kids’ beach ball drop happens at 8 PM (so you can still have a normal bedtime.) 10,000 inflatable beach balls are dropped over the guests, followed by a fireworks special. If you didn’t get enough, you could enjoy live music until their second fireworks show and another beach ball drop at midnight.
Noon Year’s Eve at Port Discovery in Baltimore
Bring the whole family to Baltimore, Maryland, to attend the Noontime New Year at Port Discovery. This popular event is packed with winter-themed activities, like Snow Fun and a Polar Bear Party. Kids can meet Time Travelers who tell fun stories about their adventures through time and space. Add on a trip to the Aquarium and make it a weekend of educational but fun activities for the family.
Pajama Party at the Seattle Children’s Museum
Travel to the Pacific Northwest, where there are some world-class museums, plus some of the most beautiful National Parks within a day trip from the city. On New Year’s Eve, you can head to the Seattle Children’s Museum for the Pajama Party. Throughout the day, they have dance parties, a countdown at noon, and a station set up to make time capsules. While you’re there, kids can learn about the mountains, the Orcas who live in Puget Sound, and the stories of the PNW Native Americans. The museum is a perfect getaway for families with young kids.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Disney
Disneyland always has unforgettable fireworks displays for holidays and special occasions. On New Year’s Eve, the park has a fireworks show at 9 PM and 11:55 PM, so plan accordingly. If you’re going to spend the day enjoying the rides and magic of Disney, find your way towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle early to grab a spot and watch the incredible show before leaving the park. Just be prepared for crowds. It’s one of the busiest times during the year for visitors.
Live Music and Parades in New Orleans
New Orleans is a celebration destination, but most people think of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Many family-friendly events are happening for New Year’s Eve so that you can bring the kids along to enjoy all the fun. The Louisiana Children’s Museum has many fun activities at the end-of-the-year celebrations.
Pool Party in Glenwood Hot Springs
Just a few hours west of Denver, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, you can ring in the new year at Glenwood Hot Springs. The Springs provide a fun place to swim and play in the water, and you can even catch the annual fireworks show from the water. The city offers face painting, live music, and hot cocoa for families. It’s fun to get into the mountains for the holidays and still celebrate with all the classic New Year’s festivities. Maybe you can add a day or two on the ski hill.
Noon Yards Eve in Washington DC
Celebrate new year’s eve in the Nation’s Capitol with Noon Yards Eve. There are glitter tattoo artists, bounce houses, carnival games, and fun music. It’s a perfect way to close the year with the kids and have a blast together. With so much to see and do in Washington, DC, it’s an excellent getaway for the entire family. Check out the museums, tour the famous National Mall sights, and see if you can snag a tour of the White House while the Christmas trees and decorations are still up.
Kid-Friendly Celebration at CAMP in NYC
CAMP is a family experience company that offers fun-themed experiences in their shop locations. The New York City location host a Noon Year’s Eve event with a countdown, sparkling cider, a dance party, and all kinds of crafts for kids and their families to work on together. It’s the perfect option for families in the Big Apple who might want to avoid the madness of Times Square.
Pizza and Pop Train Ride in Ohio
The Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad offers a New Year’s Eve Train with Fireworks. There is a wine and cheese option for adults, but they also offer a pizza and pop option for kids and their families. You’ll head out on a two-hour train ride that leaves at 10:30 PM and stops at midnight so you can enjoy a beautiful fireworks show. Enjoy a fun getaway with your family to ring in the new year. These scenic train rides are a favorite of many families in the Ohio Valley area.
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodges has nineteen locations around the United States. This family-friendly water park resort offers a huge selection of fun indoor activities to help the entire family escape the cold weather. During the holiday season, they run an event called Snowland at all locations. Daily activities include crafts, meeting Santa, yoga classes, bingo, trivia, and scavenger hunts. Check out all the seasonal things on the calendar and take advantage of all the attractions that are open year-round, like the water slides, arcades, and lazy rivers. It’s a great way to get out of your home and surround yourselves with fun to ring in the New Year.
Final Thoughts on Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Party Ideas
We hope this list gives you some ideas to help plan your end-of-the-year festivities. Let us know your favorite New Year’s traditions and what you plan to do with your family this holiday. Also, if you’re looking for ways to keep the energy high this winter, take a look at our list of “25 Holiday Travel Tips to Keep you Merry on the Move”!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are throwing a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party, create some confetti balloons in advance that you can pop with each hour getting closer to midnight and let the kids toast with sparkling cider.
If you want to travel and enjoy a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party, consider one of the Great Wolf Lodge locations, or head to Port Discovery in Baltimore for a fun Children’s Museum celebration.
Create new traditions by spending the holiday reflecting on the year and planning something fun. Pick up a copy of Adventures from Scratch and choose one of the dozens of adventures in the book.