Since midnight is past most kids' bedtimes, they can't participate in the Champagne toasts. However, there are still plenty of ways kids can celebrate the new year.
Here are some fun ideas to create New Year's Eve memories with kids.
Have a Mock Midnight
If you know your kids won't be able to stay up until midnight, don't hesitate to fudge on the time a bit. Rather than waiting for clocks to strike actual midnight, do your countdown a few hours earlier instead. Then the kids can go to bed happy that they got to participate in the tradition, and the adults can stay up to celebrate the real midnight if they wish. You can even create a special January 1 tradition with a New Year's Day breakfast for those early-to-bed, early-to-rise kids.
Sound the Alarm
Ask your party guests to bring as many alarm clocks as they can, and set them all to go off at midnight (or earlier if you're celebrating a faux midnight). When the alarms start ringing, bang pots and pans, toot horns, and make a general ruckus as you hug, kiss, and wish everyone a happy year. Then, send the kids to run around and silence the alarms.
Create a Piñata Ball
Is it really New Year's if you don't watch a ball drop? For your kid-friendly party, consider making a ball-shaped piñata that resembles the big ball that drops in New York City. You can even have the kids help you decorate it with paint, sparkly beads, and glitter. Then, at midnight, let the kids bang it open to find candy and trinkets inside.
Balloons are always a treat at children's parties, and a balloon drop is perfect for New Year's Eve. Suspend a bunch of balloons in a net above the guests, and then release them at midnight. An alternative is to fill balloons with confetti before you blow them up, and then have the kids pop them at midnight.
Give a Toast
Just because kids can't drink alcoholic beverages doesn't mean they can't enjoy a toast. Pass around glasses of sparkling cider, ginger ale, or some other bubbly mocktail. Then, have the kids take turns toasting one another with compliments, making sure everyone is included. After each toast, everyone can take a sip of their drink.
Scrapbook the Year's Memories
Dedicate part of your New Year's Eve party to scrapbooking with the kids. Have guests bring a few photos of fond memories from the previous year. Then, offer each person a blank scrapbook page and other scrapbooking materials. They can add their photos to the page, along with written accomplishments from the year and resolutions for the next year. Finally, let everyone share what's on their finished pages.
Throw a Slumber Party
Turn your New Year's Eve party into a slumber party. In fact, you can start the theme right from the beginning by having guests arrive in their pajamas. Pitch a tent or put out sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows in your living room, so everyone can crash together. Be sure to plan food for a fun breakfast in the morning.
Maybe a pajama party isn't exactly your style. You always can go the opposite route and invite kids to dress in their fanciest clothes. You can even provide some dress-up attire at the party, such as crowns and feather boas, for the kids to wear. Then, have a photoshoot—or even a photo booth—where everyone can show off their look.
Have a Game Marathon
If your guests are pushing to stay up until midnight, they'll need some fun games to occupy the hours leading up to the countdown. Board games are a great option, as they're engaging for kids and usually take a good chunk of time to complete. Karaoke is also a fun way to pass the time. And a dance party will keep everyone awake and moving. You can even hand out glow sticks and turn out the lights to play some glow-in-the-dark party games.