A New Year’s Eve Tradition Your Family Will Love

If you have kids, you know that it’s not always EVER easy to get out of the house. Therefore, our New Year’s Eve tradition centers largely around the home. And that’s perfectly fine! It’s simply the stage of life we’re in.

Also, we need for our holiday festivities to wind down before midnight. Because, whoa, no one wants to see my kids the next day when they haven’t slept. It’s just not worth it.

clock countdown pin for the New Year

New Year’s Clock Countdown

For that reason, we do our own kids’ activity countdown from 5 pm to 8 pm. This gives us a festive night of fun and entertainment, but our kids still go to bed at a normal time. Then, my husband and I get a little adult time to unwind (and fall asleep before midnight).

How it Works

I write 15 minute time increments on clocks that I laminated several years ago. The time is written in a Visa V pen so that it can be erased! Then, I write the activity on the back so that I know what we’re doing. When it’s the time on the clock we do a special activity. We keep going until all of the clocks are done (and it’s bedtime :))

I don’t remember where I printed my blank clocks from, but HERE are a bunch of free clock templates!

Tradition for New Year's Eve with kids

FOR YOUNG KIDS

For toddlers and young kids, set an alarm to keep kids on track for your countdown. Make activities every 15 minutes to keep them moving and relieve the inevitable impatience between activities.

FOR OLDER KIDS

Older kids can read the clocks on the door (it’s great practice!). For kids with more patience, every thirty minutes works well. Or try a combination of time lengths that work depending on the activity.

A Sample Schedule

New Year's Eve Tradition

Here’s a sample schedule for activities every thirty minutes.

5:00 EAT A FUN DINNER

Make it fancy-schmancy or throw out some chicken nuggets. Either way, a fun family dinner is a must!

5:30 DECIDE ON FAMILY GOALS

Come up with 5-10 things you want to do as a family this coming year and goals you may have. Our list last year included things such as going to church more often, seeing a national park, and more family exercise. Adults usually write it and kids add pictures. Then, it goes up on the fridge.

6:00 EAT A FANCY TREAT

It’s New Years, and who doesn’t love a treat? I bake some healthy(ish) banana bars with fancy chocolate on top. Be sure to include 12 grapes for good luck!

6:30 SPECIAL BEDTIME RITUAL FUN

I LOVE the idea of getting ready for bed as part of the countdown. I mean, make bedtime as easy as possible people! Draw a bath for the kids (involve some new special toys if you’d like), read a great story, and have them brush their teeth. (Or save the teeth brushing for after your toast).

This book is a great one for New Year’s Eve…

New Year's Eve Tradition

7:00 LOOK AT PICTURES

We take tons of photos, so why not celebrate them? Cuddle up and look at all of the pictures that you took over the year. Talk about your best memories. We just use our phones or computer, and we always find special moments we forgot about already!

7:30 NEW YEAR’S EVE QUESTIONS

The best tradition for New Year's Eve

We’ve used a questionnaire for the last five years. The kids love reading what they said in past years. There are tons of free printables on Pinterest for your own questionnaire! Or just ask them general questions!

8:00 THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Finally, do your own countdown and toast to the New Year (with sparkling grape juice, of course) – Drop balloons from the ceiling or hop on Netflix to choose from several of their kids’ countdowns. We do two or three different countdowns for fun and make LOTS of noise.

Other Great Activities for the Countdown

In years past, we have varied the activities. Different things work for different kids and ages! Here are others that we’ve done and additional ideas to try.

BRAIN BREAKS

We ALWAYS need to get the wiggles out. Pop See Co by Koo Koo Kangaroo (video below) and Cosmic Kids Yoga are our longstanding favorites, but a simple Youtube search usually gives us lots of options to move our bodies for 15 to 30 minutes.

DON’T LET THE BALLOON HIT THE FLOOR

And now we’re going old school. Again, get the kids’ energy out. We included this last year and the kids LOVED it. Simple, but effective.

NEW YEAR’S BALL GAME

The Saran Wrap game! If you’ve seen this game, you know it’s a big ball of plastic wrap with various goodies inside. You sit in a circle and roll a dice to see how long each person gets to unwrap the ball and try to get a prize.

Honestly, we’ve never done this because I don’t love the idea of wasting all of that plastic wrap. However, I recently saw someone re-using Christmas wrapping paper to use in their ball. Brilliant! We’ll give it a shot this year as one of our activities!

Check out game rules and another way to make the ball eco-friendly HERE.

TREASURE HUNT

If you’re feeling industrious, do a simple treasure hunt for the kids to search inside or outside of the house. Have a small prize or coupon at the end. Older kids can even make their own for the rest of the family to do.

WATCH A FUN 30 MINUTE SHOW

Do they have a favorite show they love? Add it into the countdown! This is a great activity to help them wind down for the night.

HAVE THE KIDS COOK

This one has to be done BEFORE dinner, obviously. But it’s a great activity to get them involved. As they get older, they could have their own New Year’s Eve signature dish.

MAKE A TIME CAPSULE

Put a few special items from 2019 in a box and record your best moments of the year. Bury it in your backyard or set it in a back closet or the basement.

BRAINSTORM YOUR FUTURE

This one is similar to family goals, but a bit more open-ended. Get a huge piece of poster board and go crazy brainstorming things you want to do as a family, places you want to travel, projects to conquer, and goals to accomplish.

WRITE A FAMILY LETTER

Recap some of the major events that happened in your lives in the past year. Then, include something that you each hope for in the coming year. As the years pass, take some time to read the letters from previous years.

Keep going for great tips for your new tradition on New Year’s Eve!

Grab the Ultimate Guide to Family Traditions Ebook for More New Year’s Eve traditions for your family and spouse!

Family activities and traditions

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5 Tips to Make the Night Amazing

New Year's Traditions

1. SIMPLE DECOR

Include a few decorative items in the evening! We like to add a “fancy” tablecloth and flowers to the dining room table, and we get out a few balloons. Nothing crazy, but enough to make the evening special.

2. DO SOMETHING SCANDALOUS

Scandalous for the kids, that is. Pick one thing that adds a little craziness to the night. Buy some ridiculous hats, eat only with spoons, or wear your pajamas inside out. The giggles you’ll hear will be worth it!

3. PRE-PLAN

This is not meant to be a stressful activity for parents. So, make-ahead items for dinner or your treat and buy everything well in advance. Or just use items in your home. Then…

4. GO WITH THE FLOW

Like the rest of the holidays, expectations can get out of hand. Make mental notes for what works and what doesn’t. Choose the easier activities if you need to. But remember, your time together is the most important thing here.

5. CREATE A NEW YEAR’S EVE TRADITION WITH ADULTS

This kid party finishes early. So, grab your ebook and finish out the night with some special rituals you love with your partner or friends.

Something to Consider

Since starting this New Year’s Eve tradition with our kids the night has gone SO SMOOTHLY. The first time you do it, there’s a little setup work, but after that, it’s incredibly easy. It adds a special flair, and it’s a fantastic transition into bedtime.

End the year with the right tone. Be reflective and excited for what comes ahead! The future is bright!

What’s your favorite New Year’s Eve tradition? Is it with family, friends, or your partner? I’d love to know below!

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