15 Ideas for Celebrating New Year’s Eve at Home with Kids

Noisemakers and party hats make the evening feel festive from the start! Photo by Ivan Samkov via Pexels
Noisemakers and party hats make the evening feel festive from the start! Photo by Ivan Samkov via Pexels
12/22/22 - By Jean Kuo Lee

Celebrating New Year's Eve with kids doesn't have to mean a boring night at home. Keep the night at home but lose the boring with these 15 fantastic family-friendly activities to help celebrate New Year's Eve with kids at home. The most meaningful celebrations are the simple ones with those we love the most, but simple doesn't have to be dull. From balloon pops to ball drops, discover how to ring in the new year in the most festive and memorable way.

For more stay-at-home fun with an international flavor, check out our guide to 23 Family-Friendly New Year’s Traditions from around the World. Chair leaping or grape eating, anyone? Then, when you wake up way too early on the first day of the new year, there are so many things to do on New Year's Day on our local event calendars. However you celebrate, from all of us at Mommy Poppins: Happy New Year!

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It's like bubble wrap popping on a really big scale! Photo courtesy of How Does She

1. Pop a Balloon Every Hour

There’s something exciting about popping balloons at the top of the hour, every hour, until midnight—the biggest pop of the year! Of course, you don't have to keep popping until midnight. Start at noon, start after dinner, do a dozen, or do just a few; one of the best things about this activity is that it can be tailored to the ages (and bedtimes) of the kids in the family.


Before putting helium or air into colorful balloons, try stuffing them first with sequins, confetti, or glitter and a slip of paper with an activity for that hour written on it. The anticipation adds a little mystery and excitement to the evening.

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An escape room kit for kids can be downloaded even at the very last minute.

2. Make an Escape Room at Home

Puzzle your way into the new year with an at-home escape room. Download one of several Escape Room kits with options suitable for ages 3 and up and turn your home into an escape room puzzle game. 

3. Have a Dance Party

There's nothing better than dancing your way into the new year. Put on your favorite tunes, pull up a kid-friendly playlist, or get a free Just Dance app for some family-friendly booty shakin'.

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For bigger goodies, there are bags! Photo courtesy of Simple Easy Creative

5. Countdown Treat Bags 

For goodies that won't fit in balloons, opt for simple paper bags filled with treats and activities, one for each hour of the night. Kids can help decorate the paper bags, but make sure to keep the insides a surprise. The bags can be filled with an array of things, like a new game to play or book to read, special treats to eat, or even fun things to help celebrate, like noisemakers or party hats.

6. Make Your Own Party Poppers & Noise Makers

Crafty families may not want to buy their party hats and noisemakers—instead, make crafting part of your celebration. Try making holiday crackers, confetti poppers, noise-maker shakers, glitter slime, or even party hats. (These make great accessories for your photo booth...)

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Get dressed up for the photo booth! Photo courtesy 5 minutes for mom​

7. Dress-Up with a Photo Booth

Who doesn’t love to dress up for a special occasion? Break out the feather boas, top hats, or exaggerated plastic glasses. Anything goes! Try these printable photo booth props or spend the day crafting with the kids to make your own unique props, using this tutorial. Whatever you choose, make it fun, make it silly, and make it memorable to mark the end of the year. Set up a little corner with a camera and tripod, or go all out and create a party-style photo booth in your living room, and start snapping.

8. Create a Time Capsule

Something that will become extra meaningful down the line is creating a time capsule of this year. Take the time to collect all kinds of items in a time capsule for your family to look back on when these childhood days are a mere memory.

9. Cook New Year’s Eve Dinner Together

Reservations at a fancy restaurant for New Year's Eve are just not happening. Instead, make a reservation Chez Vous, and have the kids help out in the kitchen. The best way to get kids excited about cooking is to make their favorite foods, so try letting them set the menu. (It's just one night, so if nothing green is included, that's ok!) If the idea of cleaning up a kitchen that has been hit by hurricane little chef is too daunting, get them involved on a smaller scale. Kids can help make festive popcorn balls, or set up a fondue table for an activity that both entertains and feeds the family.

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Get festive for whatever you decide to do! Photo by Mommy Poppins

10. Make New Year’s Resolutions

Making New Year's resolutions is a tradition ingrained in American culture. Since making resolutions helps us break with the past and look with hope to the future, it feels like an especially important thing to do at the end of each year. It's a great time to get kids to think and talk about everything they experienced in the past year. Give everyone their own sheet for individual resolutions, or opt to have one big family resolutions page.  

11. Brainstorm a Bucket List for the New Year

On the flip side of making resolutions is making a bucket list of things you hope to do in the coming year. A great way to generate excitement for the future is to make a wish list together of the adventures and new experiences you want to have next year.

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Board games keep everyone from getting bored. Photo by Lisa Mancuso

12. Play Special New Year's Eve Games

Of course you can break out the old standbys, like Chutes and Ladders or Sorry. But for something extra special, try some New Year’s Eve-themed games, like New Year’s Eve Bingo, New Year’s Eve Mad Libs, or New Year’s Eve Charades. Don’t forget to play Two Resolutions and a Lie: each player shares three resolutions, one of which is a lie. Everyone else has to figure out which resolution is fiction. (That would be the one about giving up coffee...)

13. Watch a Slideshow of the Old Year

Hook up this year's photos and put them on a loop for a year-end slideshow. Have your kids narrate the show; it's always funny to hear what they remember from specific events.

14. Stargaze with a Warm Drink

The show is in the night sky—and it's free. Take advantage of the chill, the winter sky, and the final, auspicious night of the year. Bundle up, grab a blanket, and fill a thermos with cocoa or hot cider. Then go outside and look at the stars. In North America, these constellations are in full view, provided the skies are clear and the city lights are dim.

15. Watch a Countdown ... or Several!

Sure, every year families gather to watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV (or online), at least those who can stay awake that long. But now that everything is streaming, there are a million (give or take) countdowns and celebrations to choose from. Or you can watch them all! The family-friendly Netflix New Year’s Eve Countdown Collection is a great place to start. To see one of the first major fireworks shows to ring in the new year, check out the Sydney Harbor Fireworks (just remember that they're 16 hours ahead of the East Coast, though families can catch it replaying online at any time).

3... 2... 1... Happy New Year!