Tiffany Guerzon, contributing writer

WHETHER COVID IS keeping you home, you can’t find a sitter for New Year’s Eve, or you just prefer to stay in, you can still have a fun celebration as a family at home. The key is to keep the kids occupied as the clock counts down. We’ve gathered a few family-friendly ideas to help you ring in 2021.

Countdown the Hours

There are many fun ways to help kids mark time until the new year arrives. Choose the time you want to start (and end!) and count down the hours by opening a bag, package, or even popping a balloon. Mark each bag with the time
and include a fun activity for each hour. This need not be expensive. Here are some ideas of what to stuff the bags with:

• Party hats and noisemakers
• Party poppers
• Candy
• A deck of cards and game instructions
• Pens and paper to write New Year’s resolutions
• Craft projects
• Glow Sticks
• Bubbles

Milk and Cookie Cocktails

Every party needs snacks! Serve up milk and cookies in style by coating the rims of small glasses or even wine glasses with colorful sprinkles. Spread a thin layer of honey or corn syrup on a plate, and then pour out sprinkles onto a separate plate. Simply dip the rims of glasses in honey or corn syrup, then dredge it in the sprinkles. (Leave the glass upside down in the sprinkles for a few minutes so that the sprinkles don’t slide down the glass!) Cool the glasses in the fridge, fill with cold milk, and serve with cookies.

DIY Noisemakers

Create DIY noisemakers for midnight from objects around the house. Decorate empty, lidded canisters such as butter containers, coffee cans, Pringles cans, etc., and add dried beans or rice to make shakers. Alternatively, thread large jingle bells onto pipe cleaners and then twist the pipe cleaner together at the ends for a jingle bracelet.

Sparkling Science

Younger kids love to watch bubbles grow when vinegar is added to baking soda.

You can glam up this simple science experiment by mixing glitter or confetti to the baking soda. To do this, mix together baking soda and glitter or confetti in a shallow bowl (be sure to use plastic confetti, not paper). When kids
add drops of vinegar with droppers to the soda mixture, it will produce sparkling bubbles. If you don’t have droppers, kids can pour small amounts of vinegar over the baking soda with
cups or spoons.

Balloons, Balloons, Balloons

It’s not a party without balloons, right? Confetti-filled balloons (found on Amazon) will brighten up your space, then you can pop them at midnight for a confetti shower!

If you really want to wow your kids, stage your own balloon drop! You can make one by taping a plastic party tablecloth filled with balloons to your ceiling.

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers may be traditional for Christmas dinner but they’re equally as fun for New Year’s Eve. These brightly wrapped cylinders are pulled apart, breaking the cracker open with a popping sound. Be sure to check the prizes inside before purchase to get kidfriendly items (most boxes of crackers have a description on the back of the box).

Family Time Capsule

Putting a time capsule together as a part of your New Year’s Eve activities can be a nice way to reflect on the past year. This can be as simple or elaborate as you wish! Grab a shoebox or big manila envelope and gather your time capsule items. Ideas for what to include: your child’s handprint, a family picture, or an interview. Questioning your kids about their current likes and dislikes, life goals, and more is fun in the moment and to look back on next year. Simply Google“interview questions for kids” for question ideas. Once finished, tuck away your time capsule and open next year.