One of our fun winter traditions is a New Year's Eve Countdown for kids!
Kids love a celebration (although most won't stay awake long enough to see the ball drop in Times Square) so we've pulled together a list of ideas to enjoy throughout the day!
With this awesome list of activities, you can start your New Year's countdown anytime during the day -- make it an all-day activity or just an after dinner countdown until they're ready for bed.
And many of these fun ideas will introduce the kids to how other countries celebrate New Year's around the world.
New Year's Eve Countdown Ideas for Kids
Pick a few ideas or have an hour by hour countdown all day long if you like - in addition to creative activities, we've also included affiliate links for some of our favorite items too. However you choose to bring in the year, we're wishing you health, happiness & edventures in the New Year!
8:00 am - Last Breakfast of 2016
This will be the last time for breakfast in 2016 - make is special!
Serve a favorite breakfast, maybe snowman pancakes or 'snow' waffles (use powdered sugar for the snow).
Talk about some of the highlights of the previous year - what was your favorite memory? What new things did you try as a family?
Try making a 'Year in Review' list by month like this one from Frugal Fun 4 Boys!
9:00 am - Create an actual New Year's Eve Countdown for the kids
Sneak in a little math practice by creating a countdown to New Year's!
Teaching Preschool has an easy countdown activity that helps kids learn to count backwards. Try practicing this during the day so they're ready for the big countdown tonight!
You can also label some envelopes from 1 to 10 and put a note in each about the activity that you will do each hour during the day for your countdown. Older kids would enjoy drawing a clock on each bag that states the time they should be opened.
And if you're looking for fun counting items, see our 100 Ways to Count to 100 list! If you want a real math challenge, have the kids count out 2017 of something (that should keep them busy for a while ;)
10:00 am - Grapes, Pigs, Underwear & More from around the World
Introducing kids to new cultures is a great way to expand their knowledge and appreciation of the world. And since the New Year is celebrated around the world, this is a wonderful opportunity to share how people in other countries bring in the new year!! One of the books we really love is Kids Around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands since it shares various customs from around the worl for many celebrations.
Here are some super fun traditions from Mexico shared by Kid World Citizen that kids will enjoy on New Year's Eve! Note: The kids may insist on running to their rooms to change their underwear once you read this!
Another fun tradition shared with us from Red Ted Art hails from German and involves Marzipan Pigs and good luck!
Many cultures believe that eating lentils or beans on New Year's Eve will bring wealth for the new year. Or try the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight and making a wish for each one! (we do this at 12 noon instead of midnight and don't forget to cut the grapes if you have younger kids :)
And a New Year's custom from Norway is to make rice pudding with one almond in it on New Year's day -- when you serve the pudding, the person with the almond in their dish is said to have wealth in the coming year.
11:00 am - Get Creative Activities
If you're looking for craft & activity ideas, visit our New Year's Eve pinterest board for more than 100+ ideas of fun ways to get into the spirit for 2017!
Older kids will enjoy playing a few games or creating a printable photo booth, both shared by The Educator's Spin on It.
12:00 noon - Time for Lunch & a Story
Turn lunchtime into storytime today!
Share some fun books about the new year, traditions and resolutions. We've listed a few of our favorites along with affiliate links for your convenience.
Here are some fun picture books for younger kids:
Older kids will enjoy these chapter books about the new year which include fun ideas on resolutions, new starts and putting the 'bad stuff' behind you:
And make sure to read about the Mexican tradition of eating grapes from our 10 am hour - do this at lunch instead of midnight!
1:00 pm - Get Some Fresh Air
Enjoy a walk outside and get some fresh air this New Year's Eve -- and if you'd like, have your kids do a scavenger hunt too! Choose from this list of 50+ Scavenger Hunt printables or try this idea:
During your walk, ask the kids to find an item that begins with the letters in "New Year". For example, they might see a 'nutcracker' decoration for the letter 'N', or a 'yellow house' for the letter 'Y'. You can also scout out house numbers and street signs to see if you can find the numbers 2017 too.
For older kids who understand the idea of resolutions, ask them what their goals and aspirations are for the new year. A walk is a great time to talk about family goals too.
2:00 pm - Make Some Noise
Get ready for some fun tonight by making noisemakers! Kids will really enjoy this fun kazoo & easy paper plate noisemaker from East Coast Mommy.
3:00 pm - Create a Time Capsule
Here's a fun idea from Red Ted Art - make a family time capsule that you fill with special objects and items on New Year's Eve! You can also try this fun book -- Time Capsule: A seriously awesome kid's journal!
Our family has a time capsule for Leap Day and we always enjoy opening it and reminiscing about what we put in it and why. Include photos so you can see how much the kids have grown during the year.
4:00 pm - Movie Time!
I do enjoy watching the holiday specials with my kids and there's even a few for New Year's Eve.
One of our favorite Rankin & Bass show is Rudolph's Shiny New Year (we love the caveman & baby new year!)
We have a tradition at our house -- we buy holiday crackers before watching the movie and each choose a character -- when our character shows up on screen, we pull open our cracker!
We also enjoy Happy New Year, Charlie Brown -- but it's hard to find. It is available on the Peanuts: Christmas & New Year's specials DVD at this affiliate link.
Hopefully, one of the tv networks will air it this year (usually it's ABC who features the Charlie Brown specials).
5:00 pm - Jot Down a Few Resolutions
I know, that's a big word for kids - but we're all into teaching them big words at a young age! Just explain that a resolution is something you would do or do differently next year.
I always like to encourage our kids to try new things -- maybe a new food, definately visiting someplace new and exploring! You can also discuss that as they get older, they become more confident and helpful -- so trying new things around the house or at school also make a great resolution.
Here's a great idea from Kitchen Counter Chronicles on Family Style New Year's Resolutions!
Another wonderful idea for making resolutions is using this printable from Creekside Learning that helps kids identify what activities they'd like to do in the New Year.
6:00 pm - Dinnertime
Our family loves to 'pop' holiday crackers at New Year's Eve dinner!
7:00 pm - Bath Time Fun
Bathe the kids before the evening fun in this themed New Year's Eve bath from Bath Activities for Kids!
8:00 pm - Snacktime!
To send the old year out with a BANG!, you can have the kids decorate their own Fireworks Cookies from NutureStore.
Or decorate with sprinkles or candy on these cookie-shaped numbers from Mess for Less.
Your choice of serving them with milk or sparkling juice -- but do serve the drinks in a fun glass or cup for a 'Happy New Year's' toast!
9:00 pm - Bring in the New Year
There's so many fun ways to bring in the New Year -- paper hats, a balloon drop, noisemakers and of course, a big kiss for all those you love!
And it's midnight somewhere, so determine what time you'll 'ring in the new year' and locate a country in the time zone that will be celebrating at the same time.
You can print your own New Year's Eve hats from Totschooling too.
And make your own confetti to throw by cutting up small pieces of colored paper.
Have a fun countdown right before bed, yell "Happy New Year", jump around in a pile of balloons and give hugs all around.
Wishing your family a Happy & Healthy New Year!