Celebrating New Year’s at Home with the Kids

In movies and media, New Year’s Eve is synonymous with parties, champagne, high heels, and excitement.  In my realm of reality, it’s at best a gathering of friends for some low-key socializing.  Add kids to the equation, and staying up until 12 am can be a recipe for emotional fallout the next day. However, there are a lot of ways to make celebrating New Year’s Eve at home with the kids a really fun tradition for your family. Especially since a lot more people are going to be celebrating at home with family this year, I wanted to share some of my real-life experiences.

kids celebrating the new year

Last year, we could have given into the temptation to slump into stuck-at-home syndrome.  Instead, we chose to make our New Year’s Eve celebration at home with the kids into something special!  It included games, food, activities, and even a New Year’s countdown.  Best of all, it ended with the kids in bed by 10 pm.  This year we find ourselves with no definite New Year’s plans again, and I think that we will repeat the fun we had last year celebrating New Year’s at home with the kids.  Here are some of the things we did to make it successful!

Choose a Time Zone

The biggest obstacle for me has always been the idea of having young kids stay up ’til midnight.  It spells emotional disaster for New Year’s Day.  Then I hit on the idea of celebrating the switch-over from the old year to the new year according to a time zone farther east of ours.   It was as simple as choosing 9 pm as our time to celebrate and then googling a country that was experiencing the New Year at 9 pm our time.  We live in South Africa, so for us, Pakistan was it.

Time-Zone Related Activities

Talk about excitement! There was almost a full-on fight among the kids as to who got to find Pakistan on our globe.  It all felt very educational when we started discussing time zones and lines of longitude and calculating how much time each line of longitude represents.  Then we pulled up the Wiki article on Pakistan to find out more about the country we were celebrating with.

We discovered that a demonym is a word that denotes a person or thing that originates from a particular country.  For example the demonym of South Africa is South African.  America?  American.  Pakistan?  Pakistani.  We compiled all our knowledge on a kind-of mind map, which included an incorrectly-drawn South Africa flag.  Oops.  And we spent some time praying for our chosen country as well as our family and beyond.

Note: This is a great way to sneak in some geography and social studies lessons!

New Year Notes

We chatted with the kids about what New Year’s Eve is and recorded their answers for future laughs.  Some of our favorites were our younger two boys’ views.  Sam (7): “It was the night that Eve was made!”  Micah  (5):  “When we have crackers!”

New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

Instead of creating long lists of New Year’s resolutions, we chose to focus on hopes.  I drew a template and then printer-copied it for the kids.  The idea was for them to express what they loved best about this year and what words they hoped to be characterized by next year.

We all got involved, even Dad!


Anything that causes lots of laughs will be a winner for New Year’s Eve.  Where we live, it’s warm weather around Christmas and New Year’s – so outdoor play is a lot of fun too.  We had an outdoor game of lawn cricket going, some swimming, and a fair bit of chasing Daddy around with water pistols.  But, even in the coldest winter, indoor games can be just as much fun.  Storytelling by the fireplace, nerf-gun indoor fun, and fort-building are a few winners.  As are the fun games we played a little later that evening – like Charades, Jenga and Pictionary.

Fun Food

It can be loads of fun creating New Year themed foods – cakes or cupcakes with clock faces; fruit roll-ups or cold-cuts arranged in the shape of the new year; and ice-cream cones decorated like New Year party hats are just a few ideas.  For the less creative like myself, it’s a perfect opportunity to keep things low-key and call in the pizza guy.  For our evening, a huge family-sized pizza, some ice-cream, and a bunch of ice-cream topping treats like M&Ms and sprinkles made the kids’ night.  S’mores, hot chocolate, and other wintery treats would have made our list had we been celebrating in a colder climate.


Nearer 9 pm, begin the countdown.  We watched the count-down clock on my phone.  And of course we had on hand some noisemakers, streamers, and party hats, with lots of allowance for noise and excitement, and it was time to welcome the New Year in.  Well, the New Year in our chosen country, that is.


kids celebrating the new year


It was a jam-packed evening filled with lots of fun activities, all before 9 pm!  The kids went to bed thrilled to have been included in the fun of celebrating a new year.

This is just one way to celebrate New Year’s with the kids.  We’d love to hear how you celebrate too!  Share with us your ideas here in the comments or in our community on Facebook.

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