Celebrating New Year’s Eve with young children

Teach young children about New Year’s Eve and create activities to keep them engaged during the celebration.

There are many different ways to celebrate the New Year with young children.
There are many different ways to celebrate the New Year with young children.

The New Year is nearly upon us. At the end of every year, on December 31, the celebration of New Year’s Eve begins in the archipelago of Tonga and completes its full day in the Pacific Islands of Baker, Howland and Jarvis. Traditions vary differently around the world, however, each country celebrates the New Year at the stroke of midnight in their own specific time zones. In the United States, most celebrations coincide with watching the ball drop in New York City. To explain the holiday to your young child, a great place to start is to describe your own established family traditions.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally celebrated amongst family and friends to usher in the year to come. A great way for young children to learn about the event is to begin by sharing the traditions of the holiday. Talk to them about why you get together with family and friends. Explain the significance of spending New Year’s Eve with others close to them.

In addition, New Year’s Eve is often a celebration of the year that has passed and a way to begin a new year with wishes of happiness, good health and positive changes. Describe to your child what the new year means to you; share your hopes for them and your family, as well as others closest to you. It is also a good time to talk about resolutions, what they are and what they mean for the year ahead. Share a resolution with your child that you can both hope to achieve; just be sure to keep any resolutions fairly easy to attain. One example would be to learn about how New Year’s Eve is celebrated in other countries.

Another important part of celebrating New Year’s Eve with children is to make sure you have activities on hand for their entertainment. Of course you can have the standards such as coloring books, construction paper and craft materials, but it’s always a good idea to create something new to celebrate the holiday. One idea is to create music makers with household items. You can find simple instructions to make a paper plate shaker at All Kids Network. Another idea is to make fireworks in a water bottle. Fairly easy to make, all you need is an empty bottle, glitter, glitter glue and a glue gun. Instructions to create the fireworks bottle can be found at DisneyBaby. If you don’t have time to go out and buy extra materials to keep children entertained, you can always make paper crowns or tiaras with tape and newspaper, music makers with paper towel tubes and anything the imagination can come up. Consider using boxes, cardboard and wrapping paper left over from holiday celebrations. Remember, noisemaking is a typical way to ring in the New Year!

After you have thoroughly celebrated New Year’s Eve with the children, it will be time to calm down and get them to bed. Keep in mind that you may not get them to bed at their usual time but it is still important to keep their bedtime routine as intact as possible. Be sure to still follow bedtime routines and keep the order the same. For example, you may still brush teeth, get pajamas on and read a short story before tucking them into bed. It is also best to make sure that whoever typically attends to bedtime is still there for the routine. Friends and family members may want to be a part of the bedtime routine, and that is quite alright, but they should not replace who is normally there unless the regular person is unavailable. If someone else is attending to bedtime, make sure they follow the usual order and the same directions so the children do not get confused or frustrated with the change in routine. Children crave routine and bedtime is their most typical routine of the day.

Looking for more resources and ideas for celebrating New Year’s with your child? Michigan State University Extension recommends the following resources:

Happy New Year!

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