When you think about celebrating New Year’s Eve, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the clinking of champagne glasses as the clock strikes midnight. However, when you have kids, New Year’s Eve celebrations are more of a home-based affair, and thankfully they can be just as fun, with no costly babysitting or cold weather to contend with. If, like us, you’re staying home for the holiday, here are wonderful ways to usher in the New Year as a family.
Kids love to play dress up, so why not have the whole family slip into swanky party clothes for dinner? To make the outfits a little extra special, consider accessorizing with gold and silver beads, top hats, bowties, tiaras and funny glasses, all of which can be purchased from dollar or party stores. For bonus points with the kids, set up a photo booth using a piece of solid coloured fabric or roll of paper and costume pieces or props, and take pictures of the whole family.
Start a New Tradition
We love the idea of interviewing kids—they often say the funniest things! New Year’s Eve is a great time to reflect on the year that was and look ahead at what’s to come, and giving the kids a questionnaire to fill out is a great way to document who they are and what their favourite memories were, while also getting them to think about what they might like to do in the next 365 days.
Print off the questionnaire, ask the questions (or have older kids fill it out themselves), and put it away until the following year, when you repeat the activity and read through the previous year’s answers. You will love them—we promise!
Toast with a Special Drink
Create a signature mocktail/cocktail for the whole family, and offer a tailor-made toast to the New Year! Feel free to garnish your drinks excessively (pieces of fruit and berries work well) and dress them up with miniature umbrellas and special straws. Don’t forget to serve your spirits in fancy stemware (you can use plastic champagne flutes for the littlest people in your family).
We recommend Pomegranate and Pear Party Punch for a kid-friendly option. (For the adults, simple add Prosecco.) Here’s how plus more festive mocktail recipes.
Have a Dance Party
Who knew mom and dad could cut a rug? Probably not the kids, which is why a family dance party is the perfect time to show them your moves. Make a playlist of your favourite kid and grown-up songs (or use our New Year’s Eve playlist as a guide, and groove your way to a good time for all. When you get tired—and trust us, you will—sit back and watch your kids get-down. For extra fun on the dance floor, start a game of freeze dance. The rules are simple: start the music, get everyone to dance, and when the music stops everybody has to freeze until the song starts up again.
Family Board Game Bonanza
Family game night is always a hit, so why not try a New Year’s Eve board game bonanza? If you’re spending the night with other families, ask everyone to bring a few of their favourite games along with them.
Wondering what to play? We have some picks for the best board games around, for both big kids and little kids.
Feast on Fabulous Food
Cheese fondue is a fun, communal meal that works just as well for four people as it does fourteen, so this will work for when you can invite some friends or neighbours over for a New Year’s Eve feast everyone will enjoy. Start the evening off with simple munchies like veggies and dips or maple cinnamon almonds, and end with chocolate truffles—a decadent (but oh so simple!) finish to your celebration meal.
Celebrate a Mock Midnight
If your kids are small, it might be hard to keep them up for a full night of festivities. Instead, try celebrating midnight in another country or province, when it’s still early enough in your part of the world to let the kids participate in the fun. You can celebrate the New Year in Paris (6:00 pm EST) or keep it Canadian and celebrate midnight at Newfoundland Standard Time (10:30 pm EST), and then put the kids to bed before breaking out the bubbly for your own late-night bash.
Have a Family Slumber Party
Make a list of movies to watch, shop for snacks and snuggle up for a family slumber party in the living room. Spread out blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags on the floor and have fun camping out by candlelight (or the fireplace). For extra fun, play a game to see how many family members are still awake at midnight.
Balloon Pop Countdown
Write an activity on a piece of paper, roll it up, and stick it inside a balloon. Blow up the balloon, and write a time (i.e. 8:00 pm) on it with a permanent marker. Hang the balloons from the ceiling and when the clock chimes a new hour, pop the corresponding balloon and do the activity. Make a balloon for each hour until midnight or mock midnight, whichever works best for your family.