Ten family-friendly New Year’s Eve party ideas

Use these planning tips to count down to a fun-for-all-ages New Year’s Eve party that still keeps wee ones’ bedtimes in mind.
By Amanda Sims |
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Throwing a party on the big night for you and the kids? Here are some great ideas to have a rockin' New Year's Eve at home.


10. Decorations

Hang festive black, silver and gold paper fans from doorways ($13 for six-pack at shindigz.com), or get into the New York state of mind with Times Square room setters ($20 for two sheets at shindigz.com). Attach the 4' x 20' sheets to the walls to make like you’re there for the big ball drop.

9. Favors

Event planner Debi Lilly from A Perfect Event (3050 N Lincoln Ave, 773-244-9333, aperfectevent.com) suggests starting your bash around 5pm. For perpetually weary grown-ups with small kids, this is probably more appealing than a midnight celebration anyway, she says. When guests arrive, outfit them with 2013 LED glasses ($4 each at windycitynovelties.com).

8. Games

Get the festivities under way with the “Champagne glass” pyramid game ($7 at American Science and Surplus, 5316 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-763-0313, sciplus.com). The Jenga-like topple game uses 55 two-inch-tall plastic flutes.

7. Snacks

Offer an array of symbolic foods that reflect New Year’s traditions from around the globe, such as black-eyed peas (Southern United States), cooked greens (Denmark) and grapes (Mexico), which are all supposed to bring good fortune.

6. Resolutions

Lilly recommends creating New Year’s Resolution Trees. “Kids can pick up wintery branches in the backyard and set them inside a glass vase,” she says. “Cut strips of paper, and hole-punch one end. String ribbon through the hole, and line these up with pens around the branchy centerpiece.” Guests can then write resolutions or wishes on the strips and hang them on the branches.

5. Dessert

Dig in to vasilopita, a Greek cake sprinkled with powdered sugar traditionally served on New Year’s Day. The lucky guest who scores the slice with a hidden “gold” coin is supposedly guaranteed good luck in the new year ($10 for ten-inch round cake at Artopolis, 306 S Halsted St, 312-559-9000, artopolischicago.com).

4. Noisemakers

For the sake of your eardrums, wait until a few minutes before your New Year’s countdown to break out traditional kazoos , confetti poppers and pots and pans, advises Lilly. For some added flair, hand out tinsel-covered LED maracas ($2.50 each at windycitynovelties.com).

3. Countdown

Lilly recommends 9pm as a good alternative to the stroke of midnight for parties with young kids. Start a countdown at 8:59pm by re-creating the Times Square ball drop with a disco-ball piñata ($15 at Party City, 1755 W Fullerton Ave, 773-525-0399, and other locations). The 12-inch-diameter ball has pull strings to easily release treats.

2. "Midnight"

Have Hershey’s chocolate kisses on hand for little ones who get the heebie-jeebies from too many smooches, suggests Lilly.

1. After-party

Distribute goodie bags (see slideshow) by 9:30pm so guests can get home to tuck their little ones in. Then, Lilly says, parents can “break out the bubbly, turn on the TV, and watch the fireworks begin” in Manhattan. And if you doze off early, well, at least you know it’s 2013 somewhere.

Fill your little partiers’ goodie bags with these treats.

Spruce up your party duds with these disco-ball necklaces, sure to make even the Bee Gees jealous ($7 for 12-pack at windycitynovelties.com).

Gaze ahead into 2013 with Fortune Teller Miracle Fish ($7 for 144 pieces at orientaltrading.com). Placed in your palm, they shimmy and twist into bizarre shapes that forecast your future.

Kids can enjoy bubbly too—with these petite Champagne bottles of bubbles ($6.25 for a 12-pack at orientaltrading.com).

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