Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Fun

Make it a happy New Year with these seven family-friendly New Year's eve ideas, whether it's an intimate affair or for a big group of partiers.


Looking for a few ideas to have fun with the kids for New Year’s Eve? Look no further!

New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to mean a last-minute scramble to find a babysitter. And it doesn’t have to mean an obligatory expensive night on the town either. Celebrating with your kids can be just as much fun—if not more. Hey, what better way to unleash your own inner child a little than with a nostalgia-filled evening of s’mores and popcorn, or a perfect night with toboggans and steamy thermoses…?

Not sure where to start? Here are 7 family-friendly party ideas to inspire you.

1. Countdown While Indoor Camping


You can invite your best friends and their kids over for this, or just make your fun with your own little crew. Make sure everyone has a sleeping bag and pillow and plan to camp out on the living room floor. While you wait for the strike of midnight, make s’mores in the microwave, pop popcorn and serve hot chocolate. For entertainment, sing songs and have a living-room dance/karaoke party. Or turn the lights down low to tell ghost stories (nothing too scary for the little ones, of course). Then just before midnight, break out the noise makers, sparklers and count down to the New Year.

2. Ring in the New Year Somewhere New


For this celebration, the more the merrier. Plan a skating, skiing, snowshoeing or tobogganing party and get the whole neighbourhood involved. You could simply head to the local arena or hill to have your fun, or for a more private affair, you may want to pool funds and rent a nearby rink, or to drive out of the city to a lesser known hill. Pack thermoses full of hot chocolate and cider, and make sure to have snacks on hand (cut fruit, Rice Krispie squares and trail mix are all good portable options). To add a little something to the countdown, give the kids sparklers just before the big moment (be sure there are enough adults around to keep a close eye on the kids for safety).

Tip: Make sure everyone dresses in layers to keep warm. Nothing ruins winter fun quite like frostbite.

3. Capture Time


Get creative and make a time capsule together. While this requires a bit of advanced planning, it will make a fabulous memento that could inspire another memorable New Year’s Eve if you decide to open it together years from now.

  • Collect photos, newspaper clippings, school play programs, birth announcements—anything you think represents your family at this time.
  • Get each member of your family to write a note—either to themselves or the whole family—that will only be read when the time capsule is opened. Some ideas for what to include: what each of you did in the past year, goals you have, favourite sayings/bands/movies, feelings about each other. No peeking!
  • Put all of the items in a sturdy, archival box, then seal the box and store it away in the attic or basement. Wrap it in plastic if it’s not waterproof.

4. Find a Party


No time to organize a party or event of your own? Look at your local listings—there’s sure to be a family-friendly event in your area. Your kids will love being invited out with you, and you get to feel like the hip, parents-about-town that you are.

5. Ring It In Twice

Want an adult New Year’s Eve when you have wee ones at home? Celebrate twice! Have an early countdown by picking a city around the world with a countdown that falls at the kids’ regular bedtime. Get out the noisemakers and party hats and don’t forget the non-alcoholic champagne of course.

Or, get some help from your friends at Netflix. They’re helping out this year by having 10 on demand countdowns for kids. Kids get to celebrate with mom and dad, and parents get the kids to bed before midnight—a win-win for all. This year’s countdowns are based on some of kids’ favourite shows: Word Party, Puffin Rock, Luna Petunia, Beat Bugs, All Hail King Julien, Skylanders Academy, Trollhunters, Project Mc2, Fuller House and Chasing Cameron.

Count it down with all the excitement and frivolity that New Year’s deserves, just a few hours early. Then, once the babes are in bed, break out the bubbly and hors d’oeuvres and have a cozy celebration with your closest friends. You really can have it all.

6.  Plan a Movie Night


Gather up the popcorn and candy: it’s going to be one heck of a movie night! Clear away the furniture and make pillow piles on the floor or bring all the blankets to the living room so you can sit back, relax and enjoy a few fave family flicks.

Start out with a good kid favourite like Guardians of the GalaxyThe Secret Life of Pets or Inside Out. Later, when wee eyes grow heavy and kids head to bed, move onto the couch with your sweetie and watch a slightly more adult fave like Love, Actually, Brooklyn or even Trainwreck (because 2016 has been one!). What better way is there to begin a new year?

7. Take a New Year’s Eve Vacation


You don’t have to go far to impress the kids, just staying at a hotel can make them jump for joy. Pack up the overnight bags (include a few toys and games) and check into a local hotel, preferably one with a pool. Eat out for dinner, or order room service. Go swimming, rent movies, whatever your vacationing hearts desire. Then before you head home in the morning start your day (and the New Year) right with a deluxe brunch.

Bonus: The Morning After

After any good party comes the morning after,  with cranky kids and tired parents. So Netflix is also making parents’ lives a little easier the next morning. Inspired by a strategic playlist of shows kids will jump at the chance to watch back-to-back, Netflix has created a simple tool that will give kids permission to press play while parents hit snooze: The Netflix Door Sign.

It’s easy! Parents can print and cut out their Netflix door sign at home, then hang it on their bedroom door before hitting the sack on New Year’s Eve. Parents can almost guarantee precious extra Zzz’s the next morning, when kids realize they can watch back-to-back episodes of the (strategically recommended*) shows listed on the door sign… a compromise sure to appease adults and children alike.

Fun Fact: There’s a big spike in kids content viewing on New Year’s Day, making Jan. 1st one of the most watched days of kids content on Netflix. In fact, according to viewership data, total viewing of kids content on New Year’s Day 2016 exceeded nearly every single weekend day in 2015.


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