I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve fan. As a teen and young adult, it just seemed like a big deal for something not all that exciting. I never liked the pressure of feeling like I wasn’t cool enough if I didn’t have some big party or a fancy date – it just all seemed pretty arbitrary and silly to me. Mostly I just wanted to stay home, have some fun snacks, and maybe watch a movie.
Once we had kids, it seemed even less exciting. Early on, we didn’t feel like paying a ton extra to a NYE babysitter (nor could we afford it!). As our kids got older, it was fun to do a special evening with them.
But after the rush of December and the holiday season, we’ve never felt like putting a ton of effort into planning a whole big party. We wanted something fun and exciting but also very low-key – a great way to relax and spend time together before jumping back into work and school in the new year.
Our Favorite Easy New Year’s Eve Tradition
A few years ago, we dropped by Trader Joe’s a couple days before New Year’s Eve on a normal grocery shopping trip. Since it was during the break, we happened to make it a family outing, and a couple of our kids noticed some fun snacks. So I suggested they could each pick out a fun snack or appetizer of their choice for a little family New Year’s Eve celebration. They were THRILLED and have asked to do it every year since!
Trader Joe’s is perfect because they have a huge variety of good snacks and appetizers that taste good and are simple. My kids usually pick out things like mozzarella sticks, frozen ravioli, or frozen pizza – things that we never get on a normal basis so they think are really exciting. We usually supplement with a good salad, as well as a cheese board arrangement. Things that are good for snacking all night!
I find these things tend to be better quality at somewhere like Trader Joe’s, but you could definitely do it at any grocery store that’s convenient for you!
Other Easy New Year’s Eve Family Activities
Other than our New Year’s Eve appetizer night, we also usually do these fun and simple New Year’s Eve activities with kids:
- Board Games – here are some favorites:
- Minute to Win It Games
- Dance party (we love this disco strobe light and also this fun hanging mirrored disco ball)
- Movie Night
- Noise makers
- Fizzy drinks in plastic champagne flutes
- Stick on mustaches
When to Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Kids
We never actually celebrate New Year’s Eve at midnight. Since we live in California, we almost always celebrate at 9pm, on east coast time. Then we can watch the ball drop in New York on TV and do a quick call with family. We always have our kids in pajamas and ready for bed at this point so they can go right down after. Dan and I usually watch an action movie together after the kids go down and head to bed right after midnight.
You also don’t need to wait until 9pm! You could countdown to noon or 6pm or whatever. It’s easy to find a countdown on YouTube for somewhere like Sydney that is much ahead in time, or you could pull one up from a past year – your kids probably won’t even notice (or care).
This is the first year one of our kids (our oldest) has asked to stay up until midnight. We figure 11 is old enough to decide to if he wants; we’ll see if he actually makes it!
There you have it! Super fun and ultra simple ideas for a family New Year’s Eve party. I hope you love it like we do!