If your first thought after reading the title of this post is nope, trust me. I get it. New Year’s Eve and kids can be scary business. You’re messing with bedtimes and, if there’s a party involved, totally risking some form of public humiliation. That said, it’s not exactly easy to get out and party with grownups once there are kids in the picture. In fact, it might actually be easier to throw a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve party instead of a whole group of friends attempting to find babysitters on one of the biggest party nights of the year.
But don’t head into it without a battle plan. You need to prepare yourselves for boredom and fighting and general exhaustion. The more tricks you have up your sleeves, the more successful you’ll be in keeping those fickle little monsters busy—and, more importantly, happy.
Here are 15 ideas to keep kids entertained at a New Year’s Eve party:
- Make it a fancy pajama party so that if they crash, they’re at least comfy. The addition of beads, boas and hats can make it seem more special—and will result in some really cute photo opps. You can even set up an easy photo booth (the grownups will have just as much fun with it!).
- Set up a snuggle zone. If all else fails, they can get cozy in a pile of pillows and sleeping bags with some books or a movie.
- Set up a hot cocoa bar, a cupcake or cookie decorating table, or ice cream sundae station to give them something to do and something to eat. Maybe edible party horns?
- Put together simple countdown balloons that give the kids something new to focus on every hour.
- Have some crafts ready. Fireworks rings, noisemakers, glittery play dough, or New Year’s glasses would all be a hit with my crowd.
- Set up an indoor campground, complete with teepees and twinkle lights.
- Switch things up by going glow-in-the-dark for a bit! Glow sticks and black lights will be a huge hit with the kids.
- Have a bunch of board games and maybe even some Minute to Win It games ready to go.
- Take down all of your Christmas ornaments before the party and let the kids turn it into a New Year’s tree.
- Put together a New Year’s Eve scavenger hunt.
- Set up a temporary tattoo or henna spot.
- When things seem to be reaching a tipping point, stop everything for a dance party break.
- Older kids might enjoy filling out this year in review/New Year’s resolution printable.
- When all else fails, YouTube Kids.
- While the grownups clink champagne glasses, have cookies and milk in plastic flutes for the kids to do the same.
JENNIFER GARRY is a writer and the mom of two girls who talk as much and laugh as loud as she does (just ask her husband). She writes about motherhood with humor and brutal honesty on her personal blog, Cuddles and Chaos. Read all of Jennifer's posts.