Once you become a parent, New Year’s Eve celebrations take on a whole new meaning. For many, the last day of December no longer means a late night out; instead, it means a family dinner at home (because two-year-olds and restaurants aren’t exactly friends), a bedtime story or three (which may or may not turn into a debate about bedtime), and perhaps — if you’re lucky — fitting in an hour of “me-time,” or relaxing with your partner.
For most parents, the goal is getting the little ones to be sound asleep before midnight. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun before bedtime. With all the excitement of the holiday, it’s fun to engage in a family activity that doesn’t require staying up late.
Here are some kid-friendly crafts to do with your little ones to ring in the New Year:
Create a Photo Booth
You don’t have to hit a big party to have a photo booth opportunity — you can create one right at home with your kids. Use a solid colored roll of craft paper to create a backdrop, and then decorate it: you may write the year, the words “New Year’s Eve,” use bright stickers, and more.
Look around your home for fun props or costume pieces to use, like hats, boas, or silly glasses. You can even design your own mustaches from construction paper, and tape them to straws to hold up for the picture. Have your kids take turns posing — and make sure you get in a few of the photos, too. This is not only an entertaining activity in the moment, but it leaves you with fun memories you can look back on for years to come!
Design a Wishes Jar
Who says you need to have just one or two resolutions? As we turn the calendar page, the new start is all about dreaming big, right? Capture that feeling with your own wishes jars. Take small glass or plastic jars (you can even clean and re-purpose peanut butter or pickle jars), and then provide supplies for the kids to decorate them. Go for press-on numbers that spell out the new year, stickers, paints, and markers. Once each child has decorated his or her wishes jar, grab some paper and have each kid write down new wishes for the upcoming year. If you make this an annual activity, you can read back over your wishes the following New Year’s Eve.
Make a Memory Game
You know what they say: The family who plays games together builds lasting memories together. Have each family member pick their favorite 5 photos from the entire year. Print two of each photo from your computer, and tape each paper photo onto thicker card stock. Write the name of the year on the back, and then place the card photos face down in a random order (with the years facing up). Now you have your very own personalized matching game! Take turns flipping cards over (two cards per turn), and trying to remember where the matches are located. Make it an annual game; each New Year’s Eve, bring out the set and have everyone add one favorite photo from the current year. Your game will slowly grow, naturally becoming more challenging as your kids get older.
Build a New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
Your kids don’t have to stay up late to watch the ball drop in Times Square – you can create your own at home. Start by cutting out a long, narrow sheet of paper (approximately 18 inches long and 6 inches across). Write a countdown vertically along the paper, starting with 10 at the top, and ending with zero; don’t forget to add the words “Happy New Year!” Have your kids draw the numbers; or stencil the numbers in advance, and have the kids color and decorate them. Finally, cut a circle piece of paper (this will be your “ball”) and let the kids decorate it with markers, glitter, or stickers. Take turns moving the ball from the top to the bottom, and counting down from 10.
For a fun, musical craft that isn’t actually all that noisy, try designing noisemakers with your little ones. You just need paper towel rolls, foil, decorative tape (like printed or decorated duct tape), and small objects that will make a little noise when shaken (beans or coins work well). Close off one end of the empty paper towel roll with foil, and then pour your noise items into the open end — fill the roll about one-third full. Seal off the open end with foil, and then decorate the roll with tape, stickers, and markers. Put some fun music on, and dance around with your noisemakers. Your kids will have a blast shaking them around the house to “ring” in the new year — a simple, inexpensive way to celebrate.
Embrace Your Children’s Excitement
Welcoming the New Year as a parent can feel very different from your celebrations before kids — but in many ways, celebrating with your kids is a lot more fun. Allow yourself to soak in their youthful excitement for the holiday and remember how big and impressive an entire year felt when you were young; after all, starting a brand new year is a wonderful thing! Try to make the night memorable for your little ones, by planning activities they’ll enjoy and that bring you closer as a family. Some of their best memories when they’re older may be from those New Year’s Eve nights of their childhood.