New Year’s Eve: How to make NYE special for Kids

After the year we’ve all had, I want to make New Year’s Eve special for my girls. Last year, at the grand old age of 5 they made it to midnight for the first time. With a combination of friends, activities and sugar we had a great evening and were able to ring in the new year and watch the fireworks on TV together.

This year, it’s looking like it’ll be just us but as the girls haven’t stopped talking about New Year’s eve, I’m sure they will still enjoy our new traditions just as much.

What we did

I knew if I was going to keep them up, there would need to be somthing to keep them going. After a bit of Pinterest scrolling, I settled on the idea of an activity every hour. We chose to do this hidden within a balloon and hung from string across our living room.

new years eve countdown

I’ve also seen the balloons arranged in a large circle like a clock face. Alternatively, you can have envelopes, party bags or any number of other creative ways to reveal the activity every hour.

New Year’s Eve Countdown

Each balloon was labelled with a time starting with 1pm and going through until midnight. On the hour, each hour, the children took it in turns to pop the balloon and discover the activity inside.

Coming up with 12 ideas wasn’t too tricky as I included things we would have been doing at certain times anyway. For example the midnight one was ‘Watch the fireworks’. At 5pm, when we’d normally eat, I wrote ‘Party Food’.

The rest I filled with simple activities, crafts and games. Here’s my full list but you could totally adapt this to suit your family’s interests.

New Year's eve countdown

New Year’s Eve by the Hour


We started things off with a silly game. You just need a pair of tights, a soft ball and some paper or plastic cups. Let everyone take turns to put the waist band over their head and attempt to knock down as many cups in a given time. The children just enjoyed doing this and helping each other and didn’t need the competition like the adults.


I picked up some glittery wands from Home Bargains and everyone shared their New Years’ Wish. A simple one but made everyone think.


Typically this is snack time so I simply wrote ‘Chocolate Fountain’ and watched them all go crazy. We have a very small chocolate fountain that only gets brought out for parties and special occasions. I served marshmallows, pretzels, strawberries and biscuits to dip. It got messy but was great fun.


We decided it couldn’t be a proper party without party clothes so this is when we all got changed into something festive and sparkly. This is also when I brought out the NYE party hats.


Dinner time or in this case party food. We put on a buffet of finger foods like pizza slices, cheese and nibbles, crisps and sausage rolls. A perfect, casual dinner.


Another craft to prepare us for the big moment. We used toilet rolls, balloons and confetti. If you don’t mind the mess, you’ll be fine otherwise I’d substitute this one.


Time for another game. This one is definitely not one to be doing this year if you have guests with the virus still around but maybe one you could do if it’s just your immediate family. Place 10 smarties or similar type sweets on one plate and ask players to move them to another plate a metre or so away using only the straw. Again this can be done with or without a timer.


Any kind of fun drink would be good here. Maybe an ice cream float or make your own smoothies. add to pretty glasses and add some decorations to make the drinks look extra special.


I picked up a NYE photo prop set and we set about taking lots of silly photos. These make lovely memories of the evening and remind you to get out your camera or photo to take some pictures.


Everyone may start to get a bit sleepy at this time so when better to pop on some party tunes and have a dance party. You can find great kid’s dance party playlists online. We also put on a dance tutorial to teach the children the macarena which was hilarious and got us all dancing.


Almost there so just time for one last silly game. We played pass the balloon which just turned into balloon play.


You made it. Time to settle down with a glass of fizz and toast in the new year. Surely 2021 has got to be better.

New Year’s Eve Checklist

Here you’ll find a list of all the items you’ll need to buy or find to do all of these activities. Some you’ll have around the house but the rest don’t need to break the bank and can be bought cheaply from budget stores such as Home Bargains or Poundland.

This year, as we won’t have friends to fill the gaps between activities, I may well add in a film or longer activities such as a nighttime walk. I’d love to hear what you do on New Year’s Eve and whether your children make it to midnight.

Happy New Year to you all…may all your New Year’s wishes come true.


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