This year, most of us will be celebrating New Year’s Eve at home. You can still have a fun, kid-friendly celebration – the key is to keep the kids occupied as the clock counts down. We’ve gathered a few ideas to help:

Count Down the Hours

There are so many fun ways to help kids mark time until the new year arrives. Pick the time you want to start (and end!) and count down to the new year by opening a bag, package or even popping a balloon. Mark each bag with the time and include a fun activity for each hour. This doesn’t need to be expensive – here are some ideas for the bags:

Party hats and noisemakers
Party poppers
A deck of cards and game instructions
Pens and paper to write New Year’s resolutions
Craft projects
Glow sticks

Milk and Cookie Cocktails

Every party needs snacks! Serve up milk and cookies in style by coating the rims of small glasses or even wine glasses with colorful sprinkles. Spread a thin layer of honey or corn syrup on a plate, and then pour out sprinkles onto a separate plate. Dip the rims of glasses in honey or corn syrup then dredge in the sprinkles. (Leave the glass upside down in the sprinkles for a few minutes so that the sprinkles don’t slide down the glass!) Cool the glasses in the fridge, fill with cold milk and serve with cookies.

DIY Noisemakers

Create noisemakers for midnight from objects around the house. Decorate empty, lidded canisters such as butter containers, coffee cans or potato chip cans and add dried beans or rice to make shakers. Or thread large jingle bells onto pipe cleaners, then twist the pipe cleaner together at the ends for a jingle bracelet.

Photo Booth

Even if it’s just you and the kids, why not have a photo booth? No need for an elaborate set-up – just tack up a sheet or plastic tablecloth to the wall to use as a background. Gather fun props from around the house such as hats and sunglasses, or buy a New Year’s Eve photo booth prop set. You can even cut your own silly mustaches and hat shapes from construction paper and tape them onto skewers.

Bake a Clock

If your kids enjoy baking, a fun and delicious activity is to make a countdown clock. Bake cookies or cupcakes and arrange the treats in a circle on a round serving platter or pizza pan. Decorate each with the numbers of the clock and use licorice sticks as clock hands to mark the time.

Balloons, Balloons, Balloons

It’s not a party without balloons, right? Confetti-filled balloons will brighten up your space, then you can pop them at midnight for a confetti shower! Look for pre-filled balloons online, or make your own by stretching the end of a balloon over a funnel and adding confetti. Use a straw to push it down into the balloon. If you really want to wow the kids, stage your own balloon drop! Kits are available online, or make your own by taping a plastic party tablecloth filled with balloons to your ceiling.

Sparkling Science

Younger kids love to watch bubbles grow when vinegar is added to baking soda. You can glam up this simple science experiment by adding glitter or confetti. Mix together baking soda and glitter or confetti in a shallow bowl (be sure to use plastic confetti, not paper). When kids add drops of vinegar with droppers to the soda mixture, it will produce sparkling bubbles. If you don’t have droppers, kids can pour small amounts of vinegar over the baking soda with cups.

Holiday Crackers

Christmas crackers may be traditional for Christmas dinner, but they’re equally as fun for New Year’s Eve. These brightly wrapped cylinders are pulled apart, breaking the cracker open with a popping sound. Be sure to check the prizes inside to get kid-friendly crackers. Have fun making your own with empty paper towel rolls, wrapping paper and ribbon. Cut the paper towel rolls in half and put small toys, jokes, trinkets and candy inside. Roll a square of paper around the tube and tie it at both ends.

Family Time Capsule

Making a time capsule a part of your New Year’s Eve activities is a nice way to reflect on the past year. This can be as simple or elaborate as you wish! Grab a shoebox or large envelope and gather your time capsule items, such as your child’s handprint, a family picture (wearing masks, of course), and an interview. Questioning your kids about their current likes and dislikes, life goals and more provides insights to look back on next year. Search “interview questions for kids” online for ideas – some bloggers even offer printable Q&A forms. Once finished, tuck away your time capsule and open it next year.

-Tiffany Doerr Guerzon

New Year’s Trivia

Don’t eat these items on New Year’s Eve, or you’ll have bad luck for the year! Since lobsters move backwards, eating them may cause setbacks throughout the year. Winged fowl will cause your good luck to fly away.

In the South, you should eat black-eyed peas, ham and collard greens or cabbage for good finances and good luck throughout the upcoming year.

The ball in Times Square weighs 11,875 pounds, is made from Waterford Crystal and has more than 30,000 LED lights.

45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but 25% of them give them up by the second week of January.

Baby New Year has been a symbol of the holiday since 600 B.C.E., and he’s depicted as wearing a diaper, top hat and a sash showing the year. Myth states that he matures into an old man during the year.

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