Family-Friendly Ideas for a New Year's Eve at Home


2020 is coming to an end, and most of us will be ringing in 2021 at home instead of at a big New Year's Eve party with crowds of other people. If that's you, you're in the right place. We've put together a few fun ideas and activities to get the entire family involved in the festivities. Mix in these suggestions with some board games and movies for an easy, memory-filled day celebrating a new chapter with your loved ones.


Young boy wearing a plaid shirt and a hat holding a lit sparkler

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially recommended that holiday social gatherings be limited and traditional gatherings be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are not medical professionals, and as such, defer to their expertise. You can read more about the CDC's recommendations for holiday celebrations here.


"Noon" Year's Eve

I know that the new year starts at midnight. You know that the new year starts at midnight. It's totally okay if your kids think the new year starts at noon. Or 6pm. Or whenever is best to keep everyone on their schedules!

There are several New Year's Eve countdown videos on YouTube that will let you ring in the new year with all the pomp and circumstance any time you want. Netflix even has a New Year's Eve countdown collection with videos featuring different children's characters!

DIY Photo Booth

A little construction paper, some streamers, and some balloons are basically all you need to put together your very own photo booth! Have everyone make construction paper party hats, glasses, mustaches, or funny captions to use as props in your silly photos, and use crepe paper streamers and balloons for a festive backdrop!

If this is a little craftier than you feel like getting the week after Christmas, I hear you. Amazon has foil fringe curtains that make perfect photo backdrops - and they're less than $10! You can find pre-made 2021 photo booth props there, too!

Confetti Balloons

Part of the fun of New Year's Eve is all the confetti and noise makers that come to life when the clock strikes midnight!

For your own confetti-filled balloons you can pop at midnight (or whenever), use a large hole punch (or scissors) to cut confetti out of construction paper, leftover gift wrap, or tissue paper. Cut a plastic soda bottle in half, and use the top half as a funnel. Stretch a deflated balloon over the spout of the soda bottle, then fill the balloon with your homemade confetti. Blow up the balloons and hang them up as decorations or keep them loose around the room. When the clock strikes midnight, it's time to pop!

Snack Bar

There's something about a snack buffet that just feels more festive and extravagant than a plain old plate of food. Set out an array of party food* and let the kids choose their own snacks for the night.

*Party food can totally be veggies with dip and pretzels and other healthier options if you want to limit the sugar-intake. And an "array" can absolutely be 2 or 3 options. It's really more about the presentation here.

Sparkler Photos

Sparkler writing

Sparklers are mesmerizing, and they're a fun photo prop, especially for a holiday that centers around fireworks!

If you're using a DSLR, the National Association of Professional Child Photographers has a list of excellent tips for perfect long-exposure sparkler photos here.

If you're using a smartphone camera, you can definitely adjust the shutter speed and light settings to get some great shots! iPhone Photography School has a great guide here with some tips, tricks, and app recommendations.

No sparklers? No problem! You can get a similar light-writing result using flashlights!

Reflect on 2020

This can be done entirely on New Year's Eve, or you can start on Christmas Day and spend the week collecting memories to read aloud at your NYE party.

Have everyone in your family write down (if you've got non-writers, you can be their scribe) their favorite memories from this past year. I know, you might not be too keen on reliving 2020. But there are probably some good moments that are worth remembering in there. It's interesting, too, to see what your kiddos remember and how they viewed some of the things that happened this year!

Look Forward to 2021

Resolutions don't have to be all about losing weight or dumping debt. They can be things like laughing more, reading more books, or being more present in the moment. They can be trips you hope to take (please, 2021, please!) or movies you want to watch. Your kids probably have dreams and goals and wants, too, so be sure to include them on the resolution setting!


 Happy new year in scrabble tiles