As a parent, you may be anticipating a New Year’s Eve that is less sequins and champagne and more mini hot dogs and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Fortunately, celebrating this traditionally decadent night in a family friendly way can be just as much fun for grown-ups as for kids.

If you’re willing to push back bedtime at least a little bit, those extra hours can provide a great opportunity to enjoy a creative family activity while making memories that will last for years to come. Consider one of these six ideas for ringing in 2016.


Create something together. Take a break from your usual movie night and tackle a more adventurous project as a family. If your children are young, collaborate on a giant butcher paper mural or use wooden blocks to recreate your home and street. Older kids may be ready to take on a 500-piece puzzle or an elaborate LEGO project. End the night with a sense of accomplishment and some great photos of your creation.


Reminisce about 2015. New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to cycle through the digital photos you’ve stored up over the past year. Talk about the memories associated with your pictures, then ask each family member to select their five or 10 favorites. You can spend New Year’s Day arranging the chosen pictures in a customized photo book to print and enjoy.


Create a family “bucket list” for 2016. Maybe you want to take the kids ice-skating for the first time. Or, perhaps your child’s life won’t be complete unless your family attends the local Easter egg hunt in March. As a family, decide which events and activities are most important for the months ahead. Then immediately commit them to the family calendar to make sure they don’t get lost in the daily shuffle.


Dress for Dinner. Regardless of whether you’ll be leaving the house, encourage family members to don their snazziest attire to say goodbye to 2015. Even pizza eaten off paper plates feels special when you’re dressed to the nines! Pick up some New Year’s Eve party hats and other accessories to complete the look.


Stretch your celebration. It’s midnight somewhere! Check out to see where. Per the site’s handy New Year Countdown, Hong Kong will celebrate the arrival of 2016 at 10 a.m., London at 6 p.m. and Buenos Aires at 9 p.m. Central time. If one round of “Happy New Year!” isn’t enough for your family, enjoy a quick celebration every hour on the hour. Or focus on celebrating with the countries you feel personally connected to due to your family history or past travel adventures.


Enjoy your own private “ball drop.” Whether or not you plan to stay up to watch the big Times Square Ball Drop, kids will have a blast recreating this tradition in your home. A racquetball or tennis ball can be manually “dropped” down a length of string while family members count down from 60. As an added bonus, decorating the chosen ball with sequins, glitter, feathers or paint will make a great art project for your kids during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve.

Choose one of these activities, add some tasty snacks and festive music, and enjoy a fun and memorable night with your family. Happy New Year!


Michelle Shirk is an attorney, freelance writer and mother of one. She writes about family, travel and seasonal events for parenting publications across the U.S.



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