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7 Steps to celebrate a special New Year’s Eve with little kids

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family, parents, children, new year, holiday

Impact Photography | Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 12/30/22

I found a way to make New Year’s Eve fun for my kids, even though they won't be staying up past their bedtime!

Celebrating New Year’s Eve can be really tricky with little kids. 

The usual ways that adults celebrate—cocktails, elegant parties, staying up until midnight for the big countdown—aren’t doable with small children. And little kids don’t understand time the way adults do, so a “new year” doesn’t mean anything to them.

For a long time, as a mom of little kids, I found myself at a loss for how to celebrate the new year. 

Some years we went to the New Year’s party for kids at our local library, but this always fell a few days before the actual New Year’s Eve, so the day itself felt anticlimactic.

Last year, I decided I wanted to find a way to make New Year’s Eve feel really special and fun for my kids, even though they wouldn’t be staying up past their bedtime. I looked up some ideas online, asked my friends for suggestions, and thought about what my kids would enjoy doing. 

Here’s what we came up with, and it was a big success last year! This is how I plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve with my kids every year going forward … at least until they’re old enough to attend actual New Year’s Eve parties!

1A dance party

There are few things my kids enjoy more than a dance party, especially when my husband and I join in!

2Look at photos from the past year

My kids loved looking at photos of all our fun adventures and family memories from the previous year.

3Write down goals

I had each of my kids choose a simple goal for what they wanted to accomplish in the new year. They didn’t exactly take this seriously—one child who shall remain nameless stated the goal to “Do less school”—but I think these will be fun and entertaining to reread this New Year’s Eve.

4Play a board game

My older kids really enjoy board games, but my husband and I don’t often have time to play with them. A day off like New Year’s Eve is the perfect occasion to do something fun and a little more time-consuming like this.

5Sing Auld Lang Syne

It’s tradition, right?

6Eat your traditional foods

Different cultures have different traditional foods for New Year’s Eve. In my Cuban culture, we eat 12 grapes at midnight, symbolizing sweetness in all 12 months of the new year. The kids can have their grapes when we do an early countdown (there are lots of them online!).

7Watch a New Year’s movie

There are not a lot of New Year’s movies, much less New Year’s movies for kids, but I did find one about Winnie the Pooh called A Very Merry Pooh Year. It’s a sweet and simple movie that clocks in at 65 minutes, perfect for my early-to-bed crew.

That’s how we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve this year. How about you?

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