Fun last-minute NYE ideas for you and the kids

Life after children is of course very very different to life before children, and these differences are particularly prominent on New Year’s Eve. Gone is the desire (and ability) to camp out for hours, or even days, for those highly-coveted fireworks view hotspots. Also gone is the concept of you and your mates wandering aimlessly from BBQ to nightclub in search of some new year’s action.

If you’ve got kids and have decided that it’s easier to stay at home for New Year’s this year, there are still many fun things you can do with your kiddies to ensure that it’s a memorable experience for everyone.

Camp in your backyard or living room

Sometimes all you need to feel festive is a small change in routine, and there is no easier way to do this than grabbing a tent, some blankets and pillows, and setting them up at home for that holiday-like feel. Camp out under the stars, or light some candles in the living room for added atmosphere.

Make ‘countdown’ bags

Make up some countdown bags for the kids to open at each hour before midnight. You can fill it up with edible goodies, little gifts or little tasks/dares (e.g. say one nice thing about everyone, draw your mum with your eyes closed). To build the excitement as midnight (or fake midnight, for the cleverly devious parents out there) approaches, each progressive bag can ‘escalate’ such that the gifts get more impressive and the dares more daring.

New Year - countdown bags

Image: Frau Tschi Tschi

Have a dance party at home

Missing your younger days when New Year’s Eve meant knocking back the contents of a goon bag then heading out to town for some mischief? Don’t feel bad. It’s easy to replicate this experience in your very own living room. After all, young children are just like drunk adults. For example;

  • They are loud
  • They are clumsy
  • They think they can dance
  • They grope you inappropriately while declaring how much they love you
  • They like to start fights for no good reason
  • They will expel their bodily fluids in an undignified manner after downing too much of the bad stuff
  • They have poor emotion regulation (e.g. bursting into tears because their drink is in the wrong coloured cup).
  • They pass out at random moments and often in their play clothes
  • That’s if they haven’t already performed an impromptu strip show

So get your drunk little people together, throw on some dance tunes, flick on the strobe lights and you’ll feel like you’re in your city’s hottest nightclub – minus the massively hiked-up cover charges of course.

Do some star gazing

For something a bit quieter, drive or walk somewhere isolated and gaze at the stars. Keep safety in mind of course, otherwise it makes the beginning of a Criminal Minds episode.

New Year - star gazing

Watch some New Year’s themed movies

These may not be as prevalent as Christmas-themed movies, but they are certainly out there if you look hard enough. Some movies which are set on or around New Year’s Eve include the following:

  • Happy New Year, Charlie Brown
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Sleepless in Seattle (Tom Hanks’ character talks about missing his wife on NYE)
  • While You Were Sleeping (which takes place from Christmas to NYE)

Do some New Year’s resolutions with a twist

New Year’s resolutions are a given at New Year’s Eve. Why not make it more interesting by asking everyone to write down their resolution and put it in a hat? As you draw them out of the hat and read them out, each person has to guess who the resolution belongs to.

Laugh or get spooked by last year’s horoscope predictions

Dig out some of those old astrology predictions from the last year, and see if they accurately predicted your own last year. Most of these will be wildly inaccurate (where were you, work promotion?) or wildly unsuitable for younger children (a bit young to have had that romantic date in April with anyone other than their blankie) but it should give you a few laughs.

Hot Tip – if you managed to find an accurate astrologist, HOLD ON TO THEM!

Make some fun predictions for 2019

Channel your own inner clairvoyants and get your kids/guests to make some predictions for the year ahead. Some examples are below.

  • Which musical act will be top of the pops this time next year?
  • Which country will win Eurovision?
  • Which country will have the first leadership change of the year? (Tip – Australia is a good bet)
  • Who will win the footy grand finals?
  • Who will get pregnant this year? (can include people you know or celebrities)

This game is not only fun but also forces your party guests to remain friends with you for at least another year in case they win any bets.

TIp: Remind your young or ‘young at heart’ (read, immature) guests to focus on lighthearted outcomes. Telling your little cousin that he will meet a gruesome end being run over by a herd of angry cattle does not count as lighthearted (1989 NYE flashback – sorry cuz).

Provide some ‘lucky’ food for your guests

The perfect host cares about the wellbeing of his or her guests beyond the NYE party. Ensure that your loved ones and gatecrashers have a happy and prosperous 2019 by providing the following ‘lucky’ foods:

  • Soba or any other long noodles – in Japan they signify good luck.
  • Grapes – a tradition in Spain is to pop one of these for each of the 12 months of the year. Be warned though – if you get a sour one, be extra wary that month.
  • Pork – pigs are associated with good luck because they move forward when they eat. Their round shape also signifies prosperity.
  • Ring-shaped cakes – aka DONUTS.

New Year - grapes

Make some magical mocktails

There’s nothing like a good mocktail to get your kids in a party mood. Splash in some alcohol for the adults to get the party really pumping.

Check out these mocktail recipes here.

Get into some quirky international traditions

Intercultural education? Or an excuse to annoy your neighbours? Take a look at some of these interesting New Year’s traditions from around the world and decide for yourself whether they’re worth doing.

Wear red lingerie – a growing tradition in Turkey, wearing red lingerie at midnight is considered good luck – and, just quietly, it will probably also increase your own chances of getting lucky ifyouknowwhatimean (wink wink, woof woof)

Run around your neighbourhood with an empty suitcase – if you plan to travel in the new year, do this to ensure a successful trip (Ecuadorian tradition)

Don a bear outfit and go door-to-door warding off bad luck – this tradition from Romania is pretty self-explanatory and easy to organise if your child happened to go as Winnie the Pooh for book week, Halloween and their last 15 dress-up parties.

Furniture throwing – in some parts of Italy and South Africa, it’s a tradition to throw old furniture out your window. If you want to do a family-friendly version of this, you can convince your kids to throw out unwanted toys (i.e. ones you hate) neatly into a bag.

Talk to the animals – in some parts of Romania and Belgium, farmers will talk to their animals on New Year’s Day. If you don’t have a farm, your dog or goldfish will do. Don’t be put off by the blank, unblinking reply – Goldy will love it!

Jump in your car

Got a car? Go on a mini-adventure somewhere new. It doesn’t have to be far. Once there, you can explore the local parks, shops and whatever else the place has to offer.

While driving, you can also play fun games like Sweet and Sour where you wave at random people outside the car and see if they wave back (sweet) or ignore you/glare/worse (sour). Being NYE, the atmosphere will be more party-ish than usual so we guarantee you will get some interesting reactions.

If you time the drive to coincide with it getting darker, you could also have a look at some Christmas lights in this new neighbourhood. Even if Christmas is over, many people will still have their lights and decorations out.

New Year - Christmas lights

Still got FOMO?

In trying to plan (or not) your NYE, you may have resigned yourself to a quiet one at home with the kids. Then, all of a sudden, the cheeky FOMO fairy delivers several strong and persistent smacks to your head. Now you’re itching to get out of the house and ring in the New Year with a bang.

Never fear, it’s not too late to organise something that will get you out of the house. Here are some things you can do at the last moment.

  • Find other families who are also experiencing the dreaded last-minute FOMO and invite them over. Better yet, get them to invite you over.
  • Skip the hassle of the big city fireworks and head out to a nearby major suburb or regional centre which may be holding their own fireworks.
  • Suss out where all the best lesser-known views of the fireworks are. It could be on that big open carpark at the top of the shopping centre or on top of a big hill.
  • If you decide to brave the big fireworks in the big city after all, all we can say is… good luck! Leave as early as you can to ‘book’ a good spot to watch them, or ring around to see if anyone you know is already there so you can jump the queue (though bring stacks of goodies to share around – nobody likes an ingrate).

Happy New Year and see you on the other side!


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