Family, Kids & Relationships

Celebrate New Year’s Eve With Your Kids—Without Losing Any Sleep

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It’s an annual question for many parents: How can we ring in the new year and take part in all the fun, festive New Year’s traditions as a family, when the kids need to be in bed way before midnight?

If you want to celebrate — but don’t want to start the new year with tired, cranky kids who stayed up past their bedtimes — try celebrating Noon Year’s Eve instead. Rather than staying up until 12 midnight, your family can count down to 12 noon with kid-friendly versions of all your favorite NYE traditions. This is also a fun playdate idea, so consider inviting some friends, then mix and match these family-friendly activities to make your party really pop.

Get crafty

Turn on some upbeat music, and set up an easy craft to keep kids occupied while you prep for the festivities. One suggestion: Decorate a piece of plain or colorful construction paper with markers, stickers, and whatever fun, sparkly craft supplies you can find. Then roll it into a cone and tape the seam so it stays put — instant personalized party hats!

Set up a photo booth

You don’t have to rent the professional ones, just a wall decorated with streamers to use as a backdrop works perfectly. Gather some fun props like hats and silly glasses, which you can find at dollar stores, or raid your own Halloween stash or your kids’ costume or dress-up collection. Most kids love a photo shoot — as long as they’re allowed to be as silly as they want — so call out directions like “Act surprised!” and “Make a funny face!” Or just let them be their naturally goofy selves and express their personalities while you fill your camera roll with candid shots.

Memory game

This game is just begging to become a family tradition. Write some prompts like “Best Movie I Saw This Year,” “Funniest Moment of the Year,” “Biggest Surprise,” and the like on rectangles of paper.

Let your family take turns answering the questions — this often leads to great conversations, and if you write everyone’s answers down on the cards, you can combine them with your photo booth pics later for an easy record of all the year’s highlights.

Drop the ball

Your kids might not stay up to see the ball drop in Times Square, but you can mark the moment the clock strikes twelve (noon) with a balloon drop instead.

First, cut a plastic tablecloth in half and lightly tape the seam back together (packing tape, painters tape, or duct tape work well for this). Leave a little extra tape hanging off the end so your child has something to pull when the time comes. Tape the corners of the tablecloth to the ceiling, leaving plenty of room for balloons (and confetti, if you don’t mind the mess!) inside.

Right at noon, your child can pull the tape, which lets all the balloons and confetti fall down for a festive and fun way to celebrate. Don’t forget how much kids would love the tradition of making lots of noise at “midnight,” so grab some noisemakers (shaking boxes of uncooked pasta works in a pinch) and let them stomp, laugh, and maybe even pop a balloon or two.

End the “night” — and start the new year — right

Top off your festivities with a toast — their favorite juice in a fancy glass will do. Then we parents are free to stay up until midnight and ring in the real New Year like grown-ups (assuming we can stay up late enough)! But even if we fall asleep before the stroke of midnight, we’ll rest easy knowing we started off the new year with a big parenting win.

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.