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15 Fun New Year’s Eve Traditions with Kids to Start This Year

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How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids?

New Year’s Eve is kind of hard to celebrate with your kids when they are so little. And if you’re a new mom, you’re probably going to be falling asleep well before 10 o’clock (so forget about midnight).

But my favorite thing to do since having a little one of my own is sharing the things that I’ve enjoyed doing.

And that means that we’re going to start some New Year’s Eve traditions with kids this year!

Now since my son is only 2, we’re not going to be having any big parties or staying up super late, but there are definitely things I can do to usher in the New Year, while making it enjoyable for him.

I hope you can find something here that your family will enjoy doing year after year and continue to make special memories together!

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What are some traditions for New Year’s Eve?

clock decoration pointing to midnight
Photo by Jill Wellington

1. Stay up late

This is the easiest New Year’s Eve tradition with kids you can start as soon as they are old enough.

First, they’ll feel like an adult, since everybody else is staying up late. And they’ll enjoy ringing in the New Year right at midnight.

You can choose to watch the ball drop or enjoy any of the other activities on this list of New Year’s Eve traditions for kids.

Oh, and if you have little ones, who tried very hard to stay awake, but didn’t quite make it. Wake them and tell them Happy New Year. Then, put them to bed.

Don’t let them miss out just cause they’re eyes got a little heavy.

game of monopoly
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

2. Play games

If it’s a holiday, you can bet my family is playing board games.

You could play other games as well. Come up with your own scavenger hunt clues, some minute-to-win-it games, or even an escape room.

Here’s some of my favorite board games to pass the time on New Year’s Eve:

  1. Monkey Around (ages 2+) – Get your young kiddos up and moving with this fun educational game.
  2. New Year’s Bingo (all ages) – Easy to play bingo game with fun New Year’s pictures.
  3. It’s in the Bag! Jr! (ages 5+) – An educational take on party charades. Pictures make it easy for kids who can’t yet read.
  4. Kids Create Absurdity (ages 7+) – Match the cards for hours of silly fill-in-the-blank fun.
  5. 3 Card Games in 1 (ages 7+) – Uno, Phase 10, and Ono 99 are included for some number and color matching fun.
  6. Do You Really Know Your Family (ages 8+) – See who knows the family best with this family trivia game.
  7. Spontuneous (ages 8+) – Fun for music lovers, be the first to sing your way through this game.
  8. Beat That! (ages 9+) – A game of challenges for the whole family.
  9. It’s in the Bag! (ages 10+) – A different take on traditional party charades.
  10. Doomlings (ages 10+) – A card game where you need to score the most points before the end of the world (or before the clock strikes 12).
little boy turning dials on old radio
Photo by Victoria Borodinova

3. Listen to music

I spent many years watching Dick Clark’s Rocking Eve before watching the ball drop at midnight. (Oh my gosh, how old am I?! And do you even know who I’m talking about?)

My point is it was hours of music to enjoy on New Year’s Eve.

Maybe your kids aren’t into the top 40, and you’re still in the Wheels on the Bus crowd. That’s okay. Put on the music they love and host your own dance party.

Or even give the Christmas music one last hurrah before the New Year gets started.

list of New Year's resolutions
Photo by Polina Kovaleva

4. Make resolutions

New Year’s Eve is all about the resolutions. Raise your hand if losing weight is at the top of your list again this year. (That doesn’t sound like fun at all.)

So, kids may have some habits they need to break (and your New Year’s Eve traditions with kids is one of the best times to try that).

But it’s also the perfect time for kids to learn and try new things. Let that be their list of resolutions.

Learning to ride a bike. Learning how to cook. Trying a new meal. Learning how to do laundry. Learning how to keep their room clean. (Ok, we can add some things in there that will help us out as moms, too!)

typewriter with paper stating "things to do before"
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

5. Make a bucket list

A bucket list is different than a resolution. Resolutions being things you should learn, try or change.

But a bucket list is everything that you want to do!

Check out this winter bucket list for ideas to get you started. You could make a bucket list for each season, each holiday, or even each month. Make a special birthday bucket list or travel bucket list for the upcoming year.

And have fun crossing those things off together!

movie theater popcorn
Photo by Pixabay

6. Have a movie marathon

This one is especially fun if New Year’s Eve is on the weekend, as you will have the whole day to binge-watch your favorite movies.

But even if it’s during a weekday, you can still stay up late watching movies, and then continue the fun on New Year’s Day!

Get these New Year’s popcorn boxes for a special treat!

woman holding a camera
Photo by Dmitriy Zub

7. Take a photo at midnight (or hourly)

I love taking photos, even more since I’ve had a baby. So, this is a fun New Year’s Eve tradition for kids that you will look back on fondly over the years.

If your little ones are still too young to make it to midnight, consider taking pictures each hour until their countdown to bedtime. Of course, you could even do this with older kids (having them show off what they did that hour).

You could even have your kiddo take pictures throughout the day to see the holiday from their perspective!

mother and son decorating the tree
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

8. Take down Christmas decorations

I typically wait until after the New Year to take down my Christmas decorations, but New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to say out with the old and in with the new.

Start early in the morning, so you don’t have a mess of tinsel and boxes to clean up when you should be celebrating.

New Year's sign and party balloons
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

9. Put up New Year’s decorations

And while we’re taking down some decorations, why not put some up as well?

Get some balloons and streamers (or these fun swirlies) and let New Year’s Eve be the holiday that your kiddos get to decorate. Not only will this be a fun New Year’s traditions with kids, but it will also be one that is specifically just for them!

woman holding a gift box
Photo by Monstera

10. Give a small gift

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. A gift?! We just had Christmas! (And those gifts aren’t even put away yet.)

But wait, I’m not talking about a traditional gift. And actually, this gift might take a bit more time and thought than a traditional gift (but it will be so meaningful to your kiddo).

  • Homemade coupons. They could be for things to do in the New Year. I’m thinking family trips to the zoo or museum, or maybe a movie or spa day. You could give 12 (one for each month). Or you could even tuck some get-out-of-chore-free cards in there.
  • Notes (or a journal) about your kids. If it’s December, and you’ve just come across this list, then go for simple this year. Get some index cards and a photo album, and write things you love about your kids, things you remember being proud of them for during the year, and what makes them special. Tuck those cards in a photo album so they can enjoy them! Next year, get yourself a small journal and write things down as they happen during the year for a special New Year’s Eve tradition your kiddo will cherish.
  • Self-care package. Self-care is so important for everyone and it’s important to show your kiddos how to take care of their mental health. So, give them a self-care package. Get a special box and put things in there they enjoy. A nice journal (and some pens), fun kid soaps, sensory bottles, fidget toys, and even a calm down kit are great ideas when you’re just starting out.
New Year's Eve traditions with kids: New Year's balloons

What can toddlers do on New Year’s Eve?

Toddlers can do some of the New Year’s Eve traditions with kids I’ve already mentioned, but there’s a few things you can do on New Year’s Eve that they can definitely take part in. Of course, get your older kids in on the fun as well.

couple holding year 2021 balloons
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

11. Special countdown

Toddlers can’t stay up until midnight (although some days mine would like to try).

So, prepare a special countdown. Use balloons or paper chains (maybe confetti if you don’t mind the mess) and add numbers for each hour they will be awake.

Then let them pop the balloons or pull apart the chain on the hour. (You could even add the half hours to give them more fun.)

kids with party hats and noise makers
Photo by Vlada Karpovich

12. Party hats, necklaces or noise makers

New Year’s Eve is really just one big party celebrated across the world over and over again.

Let your little ones join in on the festivities by giving them party hats to wear, colored necklaces (if they’re old enough), and some noise makers to play with. (Then hide those things the next day!)

Get your own party kit before it’s too late.

little girl in pink party dress with party hat and balloons
Photo by Ivan Samkov

13. Special outfit

While we’re all decked out in party gear, why not get dressed up in a special outfit as well.

Maybe that means fancy dresses or silly bow ties. Or maybe it means spending the day (or evening) in comfy pajamas.

Whatever it is, make it your New Year’s Eve tradition with kids year after year to make it extra special.

What should kids eat on New Year’s Eve?

strawberry smoothie
Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography

14. Special (non-alcoholic) drink

We all know what people are usually out doing on New Year’s Eve, and maybe you’re even partaking in your own home.

That doesn’t mean your kiddos should miss out on their own special New Year’s Eve drinks.

Whether it’s kid-friendly mocktails, a hot chocolate bar, fruit smoothies, or homemade milkshakes, your kiddos can enjoy sipping their own drinks as a New Year’s Eve tradition. (You could even get some umbrella straws for those drinks.)

plate of sauerkraut topped with onions
Photo by Jana Ohajdova

15. Special meal

We’ve always had sauerkraut and mashed potatoes on New Year’s Eve, right at midnight. My grandma always said it brought good luck for the year ahead.

I have always loved this New Year’s Eve tradition for kids, but I’m also a fan of sauerkraut. And I know that not everybody is. Especially kids (who are picky eaters to begin with).

So, skip the sauerkraut. Make chocolate chip pancakes. Or have a taco bar. Or treat your kiddos with something you usually say no to.

And if they ask for it the rest of the year, you can tell them that is their special meal for their New Year’s Eve tradition.


There you have it: the best ideas for New Year’s Eve traditions with kids to get your family excited for the year to come. Your kids don’t have to be little to start a fun new tradition. Find the ones you love and go for it!

Does your family have a special New Year’s Eve tradition, or did you find one you’d like to try? Let us know in the comments.

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15 Fun New Year’s Eve Traditions with Kids to Start This Year

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