The New Year is just around the corner, and for many, that means a festive night out. But if you’re a caregiver, a New Year’s celebration might mean time spent at home with the kids.
With a little imagination, there are plenty of kid-friendly ways to celebrate before the ball drops.
We curated nine New Year's Eve family activities to send off the old year while spending quality time together.
Fun New Year's Eve Family Activities
Ready to put on your party hats and start the New Year's Eve celebration with the family? While they may not make it to the countdown, kids can still enjoy a memorable New Year’s Eve.
Here are two lists of New Year’s activities for kids—one for toddlers, and one for preschoolers.
New Year Activities for Toddlers
Here are 4 of our favorite ideas for the under-3 crowd:
#1 New Year’s Noisemakers
A paper plate shaker is a quick craft you can put together in minutes—all you need is:
- Paper plates
- Dried beans or peas
- Crayons, sequins, stickers, etc. for decorating
Let your little artist decorate the plate, then add a handful of beans or peas. Fold one plate in half, or sandwich two together for a circular shaker. Staple the edges shut. Add crepe paper streamers for more flair—then start shaking!
#2 Make a Colorful 2024 Banner
Print or cut out large numbers for your child to color and decorate with stickers, glitter pens, etc. Then string it together with yarn and let your child decide where to hang up their creation.
#3 Fireworks Paintings
This easy painting activity only requires washable paint, a circular dish brush, and heavy paper.
- Let your child dip the brush into the paint, then press it onto the paper
- Layer lots of prints over each other in different colors to create a colorful starburst design
- Use glitter paint for a brilliant sparkly effect
#4 Confetti Countdown
Countdowns don’t have to wait until 11:59. Choose any time a little past regular bedtime—whether it’s 7, 8, or 9 pm, any hour can be your family’s New Year’s Eve countdown to “midnight.”
- Show your child where the hands of the clock will be when the big moment arrives
- Make or buy confetti crackers, or hand out cups of confetti or “countdown bags” to throw when the clock strikes the hour
- Play last year’s New York Ball Drop celebration on YouTube to make your countdown feel more like the real thing
New Year Activities for Young Children
Here are 5 festive ideas for ages 3 and up:
#1 Make a 2024 Calendar
Help your child learn the months of the year by creating a 2024 calendar:
- Encourage your child to make 12 new drawings, or let them choose 12 favorite pieces from the past year
- Download and print out calendar pages (Canva has free templates)
- Sandwich the 12 finished drawings with the printed calendar pages, then staple them together on the long edge to make a simple homemade calendar
#2 Gratitude Activities to Celebrate 2023
Talk about what made last year special:
- What are they grateful for from 2023?
- What were some special events, favorite moments, or funny memories?
You can use coloring pages and worksheets from our Gratitude Collection to dive deeper into thankfulness and appreciation activities. These exercises can help preface New Year's resolutions for kids to set attainable goals that foster emotional growth.
#3 Make Party Blowers
No New Year’s celebration is complete without party blowers, and they’re easy to make. Here’s how to do it1:
- Gather straws, thin paper (printer paper works well), a pencil, and tape
- Cut paper into rectangles about 3” wide by 7” long
- Fold the long edges of the rectangles inward to make a tube, then tape one end closed
- Roll the rectangles tightly around the pencil to curl
- Tape the open end of the rectangle to the straw, pinching it to form a tight seal
- Enjoy your homemade party blower!
#4 Dance Party
Create a curated playlist of tunes your kids love, then make space in the living room for a family dance party:
- Make it a dance-off where family members try to top each other’s best moves
- Or just have an open dance floor so the whole crew can boogie down together
- Dress up in wild, colorful, or fancy outfits for even more fun
#5 Virtual Connections
Don’t leave distant family out of the party—schedule a family chat to reconnect with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and anyone else who can’t be present in person. Do separate chats if needed for time zone differences, or gather everyone together in one Zoom or Google Meet room.
#6 Making a New Year’s “Wish”
Resolutions can be tough for kids to wrap their heads around, and lead to frustration if the child or caregiver are not living up to their expectations. Making a wish can be a kid-friendly tradition. Kids can make a wish for the new year like "more family time" or "wanting to have more adventure this year". The family could agree on a wish together or each person could have their own. Light a candle or write it down to make it feel special and meaningful.
Creating Family Time During the Holidays
It’s not easy to fit everything in when your holiday season is brimming with school functions, shopping, cooking, hosting, and traveling. Here are 3 tips for finding family time amidst all the hustle and bustle:
- Prioritize quality over quantity. Choose a few special activities or traditions to focus on, and make the most of them. Kids enjoy a relaxed, present parent more than a packed schedule.
- Unplug and be present. Try setting a daily limit on your screen time, at least during the holidays. You may be surprised how much extra time you find for family moments instead.
- Be flexible. A strict schedule of holiday activities can create needless stress, while loosely planned family time lets you take things as they come and enjoy each moment. Learn how to create a kid-friendly holiday routine that makes the holidays more manageable.
Why are Family Traditions Important?
The winter months are packed with opportunities to reinforce the bonds that make our families strong. It’s the perfect time to practice empathy, gratitude, and kindness, and slow down to appreciate our loved ones.
Family traditions help us do all of that and more by:
- Creating shared memories
- Strengthening family identity
- Building a sense of safety and stability
- Creating consistency and routine
But it takes a little thought to create traditions that go beyond gifts and food and sparkly decorations. Let’s take a look at what makes a positive and meaningful family tradition.
Characteristics of Good Family Traditions
- Inclusivity – Whether it’s step-siblings or step-parents, adopted family members, or extended family, show your children that your family traditions have room for everyone.
- Deeper meaning – The most special traditions are those that have a unique significance for your family. It might be as simple as a family in-joke or a funny way of saying good night. Or it could be that special recipe you cook together every New Year’s Day in honor of Grandma. That extra meaning helps build a sense of family identity.
- Flexibility – Healthy traditions adapt to changing circumstances and family needs. Whether that’s welcoming a new sibling into the bedtime ritual, or downsizing the pile of presents when the budget is tight, show your child that traditions can accommodate change without falling apart.
For Special Family Moments, Let Slumberkins Be Your Guide
This New Year’s Eve, take the opportunity to create some new family traditions your kids will always treasure. And there’s no need to wait until December 31st to start the celebration. Spend some time in the days leading up to New Year’s to reflect on the past year together and all the moments to look forward to in the days ahead.
Slumberkins can help you create special moments together any time of year with our resources, activities, books, and more. Here’s to a new year filled with togetherness, connection, and growth. Cheers!
- Gummerman, Laura. "Party blower DIY" Childhood Magic. Updated 2 March, 2023. https://childhoodmagic.com/party-blower-diy-a-fun-new-years-eve-craft/
- Spagnola, Mary et al. "Family routines and rituals: A context for development in the lives of young children." Infants and Young Children. Published October 2007. https://depts.washington.edu/isei/iyc/20.4_spagnola.pdf