Holidays are usually a drag for teenagers. They are too old for all the cutesy kiddo parties, but not quite ready for adult antics either, and finding that perfect combination of age-appropriate and fun can be difficult. Add volatile hormones and quickly changing interests to the mix, and it becomes dang near impossible. New Year’s Eve is especially hard for teens, as NYE parties tend to revolve around copious amounts of alcohol, scant outfits, and wild antics, or they’re boring nights in with your mom’s book club friends. Neither screams fun for your 14-year-old. That’s why we have scoured the internet for these amazing parent-approved New Year’s Eve activities just for teens!
Adventures From Scratch: Friends Edition
Snag a copy of our adventure book made especially for friends! Your teen will find over 50 scratch-off activities, in several adventurous categories, to share with their friends. Let your NYE activities be a surprise with a scratch-off adventure from Adventures From Scratch!
The Best New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Teens
Whether you decide to throw your own New Year’s Eve party or arrange an activity outside the home for your teens, look for events that have a balance of freedom and adult supervision. If you’re the adult in charge of a group of teens, you don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but you also don’t want to be that parent who lets chaos ensue under your roof or on your watch.
Your teen isn’t an adult yet and doesn’t have any experience with party planning. So, if they ask to throw a party or want to take friends out, they are going to need help planning the event. Take this opportunity to work with your teen, getting their input on everything from food, to games, to the playlist. Use your experience to help them knock out the little details that they might not think of, but leave the choices up to them, as much as you can.
1. Appropriate Food
No party is a good party without tasty treats. For teens, stick to finger foods and hearty appetizers. Remember, they tend to eat a lot, so you might put out a little more than you would for adults. Consult your teen and make sure you have a few of his or her favorites. They may know the favorite treats of the friends they invite as well.
2. Variety of Games
Teens are fickle, and you never know what they might enjoy on any given evening. Your best bet is to have several options from DIY party games to age-appropriate board games, to active games that let them burn off some energy. Set up stations for Twister, Karaoke, video games, and charades. Some artsier tweens may even want to have a craft section where they work on a New Year’s resolution-based collage or poster. You may also want to have a playlist full of their favorite dance tunes should a spontaneous dance party break out.
For a list of appropriate board games, check out the student section of “40 Fun Board Games to Play With Friends.” You could easily adapt any of the options from “25 Fantastic Party Games to Play With Friends” for your teens.
3. Festive Decorations
A fun way to amp up the glam for your teen’s New Year’s Eve celebrations is to treat it like an adult party. Confetti, streamers, a disco ball, and plenty of sparkly party decorations will add some festivity to your bash. See if your teen wants to have guests dress up in their prom or homecoming attire to add a bit of glamour to the party. Prepare some take-home party favors for your teens to consume on New Year’s Day to remember the awesome night they had! Include a tasty treat and a positive affirmation or funny prophecy for their new year.
4. Time Capsule
High school is a special time in the lives of most people, and whether it was miserable for you or a blast, you probably have strong memories related to this period. Help your teen create positive memories by encouraging them to build a time capsule. Have each guest bring one item that “represents the past year” for them. Combine all the items in a shoe box or an appropriate box and set a goal to open it on their high school or college graduation. Make sure to include a list of all the participants on the outside of the box, so they can all be present, at least by zoom, for the grand opening later. It’s a fun activity that will bring create a lasting connection between your teen and their friends.
5. Non-Alcoholic Party Drinks
Another fun idea is to set up a faux drink station for teens to experiment with creating mocktails. You can find some free printable recipes online, line up some common cocktail syrups and garnishes, and make a mocktail recipe book for them to peruse and create. Pick up some plastic martini glasses or champagne flutes from your local dollar store, or if your teens are old enough, let them borrow your real set.
6. Kid-friendly Countdown
The climax of any New Year’s Eve Bash is the actual ringing in of the New Year. The timing will depend on the age of your kids. If you’re planning a party for tweens, then you might need to orchestrate a ball drop earlier than midnight, but if your kids are older, then allow them to watch the real deal. If you need to do it earlier, either watch the drop in a time zone ahead of yours or create your own DIY drop on a nearby flagpole!
Champagne toasts of sparkling cider or hot chocolate, noisemakers, and confetti all make the New Year’s Eve countdown extra special!
7. Fun New Year’s Eve Photos
Set up a photo booth in your living room with funny props for guests to get snaps of their awesome night with friends. Feather boas, glitter glasses, and funny hats are staples, but you could also do a theme like the 1920s, western wear, or disco. Set up a smartphone to capture the shots and give them the ability to easily share shots with each other. Teens will obviously use their phones too, but having a central camera will allow you to make sure you get a copy of all the hilarious shots.
Top Activities for Teens on New Year’s Eve
8. Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt
Set your teens loose on a fun-filled scavenger hunt from Let’s Roam. Our hunts are expertly curated for maximum interaction and hilarious antics. Teens will set out on a mission, learning interesting trivia and competing in photo and video challenges. Our hunts generally take place within a one-mile walking radius, so your teens will have some freedom but be contained within a fairly compact area. We have hunts in cities all over the world, and most are appropriate for the whole family including your tweens.
If you aren’t comfortable with setting your teens loose in the city, Let’s Roam also offers incredible in-home scavenger hunts.
9. Virtual Murder Mystery Party
If you prefer to keep your gathering virtual, look into our amazing array of Virtual Murder Mysteries at Let’s Roam. Murder on the Space Station would be a great option for teens. The keynote speaker at an inter-galaxy summit is murdered on the space station. Work together to apprehend the killer before intergalactic chaos ensues. The game usually takes an hour and can be played with very small or very large groups. Our murder mysteries are hosted by a crew of professional actors who will keep you on task and entertained the whole night through!
10. Late Community Outing
Check around your community for businesses that are teen-friendly and open late on New Year’s Eve. This could include ice skating rinks, teen clubs or arcades, bowling alleys, or mini golf courses. These establishments are a nice compromise as your teen will get some freedom, but you will know where they are and that there’s at least some adult supervision.
11. Movie Marathon
Whether you send them to the drive-in, book tickets for a couple of shows at the local theatre, or rent a few fun movies for the house, a movie marathon can be the perfect NYE activity for a low-key group of teens. If you choose the drive-in, hook them up with tons of good snacks and drinks to cut down on concession prices. If you choose to have the marathon at your house, have each teen bring their favorite movie, and then bring out the bean bags. hot chocolate, and tasty treats
Movie marathons easily flow over into sleepover antics. Since your teens will likely want to stay up for the ball drop, just plan on having them all hang out at your place until morning. Celebrate New Year’s Day with fresh donuts for the crew.
13. Amusement Park Celebrations
Amusement parks often have special holiday celebrations, complete with decorations, fireworks shows, and concerts. Most major theme parks have areas that are made for older kids with terrifying rides, hands-on carnival games, and age-appropriate shows. The confines of the park allow teens a large amount of freedom, but keep them in heavily camera-monitored areas. For a little extra security, you might remind your teens that they are on candid cameras.
14. Night Ride
If you live in a rural area where you have access to forests, large pastures, or ATV trails, organize a late-night ride for your teen’s friends. You will need to enforce some driving rules and make sure you have safety equipment for everyone. To really make it fun, turn the drive into a giant game of capture the flag or a scavenger hunt for hidden finds along the trail.
15. Midnight Polar Plunge
Some teens are all about the extremes. For a group of rowdy exhibitionists, organize a midnight polar plunge in a local swimming pool or trough of ice water. The kids can ring in the New Year by jumping in the frosty water together. Have a seating area around the fire and plenty of hot chocolate ready as they will be psyched up and need to get out all the giggles as they warm up. Most of them will never have felt something that exhilarating and listening to their conversation afterward is a lot of fun.
16. Pizza and Beer
Invite a few friends over for a pizza-making extravaganza. Provide the dough and all the fixings and let the teens make their own creative concoctions. You can provide ginger beer, root beer, and non-alcoholic beers to add a little adult flavor to the get-together.
17. Painting Party
If your teen has a creative side, then organize a painting event for them and a small group of friends. Most cities have a facility that specializes in wine and painting parties. Just ask them to swap out the wine for some sparkling cider and reserve a spot for your creative kiddos. These activities are perfect for budding artists as there’s a template to follow and guided direction. Each person usually makes the same piece of art, so the teens will have matching keepsakes to remember their night by.
18. Backyard Bonfire
Hit up a beach, pasture, or your backyard, and be sure to pack the s’mores kits. Crank up a good playlist, start a raging bonfire, and encourage teens to tell their best ghost story, play truth or dare, two truths and lie, or share their New Year’s resolutions. You could also have them write down any bad habits they want to get rid of this year and toss them in the fire. Bonfires naturally create an environment for conversation and intimacy, so invite your child’s besties and let the flames work their magic. Just make sure you have plenty of food for the ravaging teens.
19. Volunteer Project
Young people are the most willing participants in community projects. They have big ideas, tons of empathy, and an untainted view of the world that allows them to serve others without judgment or overcomplicated thought processes. If your teen is interested in community service projects, then gather a small group and go serve at a local food kitchen, take party favors to the local homeless shelter, or spend the evening playing games with elderly citizens at the nursing home. Afterward, retreat to your home for a movie marathon and tons of yummy snacks. Holidays are hard on the homeless and those who can no longer be with family and friends for whatever reason. Having your teens around for the evening will bring them joy and a positive outlook for the new year.
20. Camping Trip
You’re going to be up all night anyway, you might as well spend it around a campfire with hot cocoa and roasted hot dogs. If your crew loves the outdoors, then spend the evening on a sunset hike and then huddle up around the fire for songs, stories, and games. You will need several tents and perhaps an adult to sleep in each. If you live in a really cold environment, you could rent a cabin for your adventure weekend.
21. Snowman Contest
If you live in a place where snow abounds, then put the teens to a challenge. You can present them with a theme or challenge them to build the largest snowman. To make it more difficult, you can limit the tools they are allowed to use or only let them use items they have in their cars. Take photos of each team’s creations and have the teens post them on their social media platforms. The team that gets the most votes wins a special New Year’s Eve gift.
22. Parent Pranking
If you have a mischievous group, pile them in the car and pay their families a little visit. Allow them to come up with their own pranks or give them a little guidance. Just make sure the pranks aren’t too extreme and don’t cause permanent damage. The teens know their families pretty well and will have a good idea of what is too much. Pranks could include surprising an unexpecting dad with a pop of confetti, moving all the porch decorations, or making prank phone calls. Get creative with it, just don’t go too far.
23. A Late Night Sporting Event
One of my favorite pastimes as a teen was late-night basketball and flag football games at the city park. We would gather all our friends, park our cars and turn on the headlights and play until curfew. Set out some ice chests of cold drinks and plenty of finger foods, and you have a night of fun that is easy, cheap, and innocent.
24. Giant Food Fight
The New Year is the time for “out with the old, and in with the new.” Take this opportunity to clean out those 12 bottles of expired ranch dressing in your fridge and the fresh spinach that is now mush. Have your child’s friends do the same, and organize a food fight in a large open space. Kiddie pools full of rotten fruit and balloons filled with watery ketchup make disgusting weapons. Split the kids into two teams and let them go at it, or devise a few obstacle courses or gross games involving expired food products. It’s nasty. It will take a lot of cleanup the next day, but holy cow is it fun?!
Writer note: When I was a teenager, we ended our church camp every year with a gigantic food fight. The counselors gathered all the leftover food, mixed it with water and mud, and set us free in a giant field. It was the best part of the whole summer, and I still remember rolling in the muck with my besties to this day. You will be picking noodles and beans out of your hair for hours, but it’s worth it for the memories.
25. Take a Little Trip
Spend New Year’s on a train journey. Visit a fun city near you, or book a few days on a dude ranch. The kids are out of school and are likely stressed by this time of year. They could use a getaway, and so could you. Let them take a friend or two and plan plenty of age-appropriate activities. Let your teen help with the planning and do some of the research for your activities. Planning a joint trip is a great bonding experience and will be a good learning experience for them too.
Time to Party
Alright, parents, it’s time to pick your poison and start planning. However you want to let your teen celebrate the New Year, make sure that you take don’t push your ideas on them. We know after reading this, you’re very excited about the possibilities, but your first move should be to share this article with your teen and see if anything piques their interest. They may choose one from the list, or it might spark a creative idea of their own! Either way, good luck with your planning. You got this!
If you have experience with teenage New Year’s Eve ideas, drop your memories in the comments for us all to enjoy!
Did that last idea of taking a winter vacation sound pretty good to you? Check out our list of “32 Wonderful Winter Vacations in the U.S.” for some great cold-weather ideas!
Frequently Asked Questions
For a fun NYE with teens, plan a glam party complete with dancing and photo booths, have a snowman-building contest or organize a late-night sporting event.
For a fun and safe tween activity, download the Let’s Roam app and sign them up for a city scavenger hunt. They will hunt for clues through a small part of town, competing in trivia, photo, and video challenges along the way!
NYE activities for teens should provide autonomy but reasonable safety as well. Consider a movie marathon at the local theatre, a bonfire, or a New Year’s Polar Plunge!