A Countdown of New Year’s Eve Celebration Ideas

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By Marla Schultz
After the excitement of the Christmas season, New Year’s Eve can be a bit of a disappointment. Alcohol-induced stupidity doesn’t appeal to me, and I’ve never cared for watching, via television, the ball drop in Times Square. In fact, seeing the masses in New York pressed together makes me claustrophobic even while enjoying the comfort of my living room couch.
I hate to admit it, but we typically hope for an invitation to the home of friends. Many times when this doesn’t happen we succumb to watching a movie and heading to bed early. I have a feeling that we’re not the only family who has lapsed into this “tradition.” On a few occasions though we’ve been inspired to invite friends to our home to welcome in the New Year, and we loved it. Why we haven’t made this an annual tradition yet is a bit puzzling.
If you generally find yourself in this situation, why wait for an invitation? Why not host your friends and relatives—even if it’s fairly low key? Of course, there are times the budget is so tight that even hosting a potluck might be too much, but you can still intentionally plan a special, yet inexpensive, celebration for your immediate family, versus surrendering to the monotony of the everyday. Years later you will look back and appreciate the fact that you took the time to make this celebration memorable.
I asked some of my friends to share their New Year’s Eve celebration ideas and traditions to spark our imaginations and creativity. Here is a roundup of their suggestions:


  1. Potluck and Game night
    Provide something yummy, like fondue or the fixings for nachos, and have your guests bring potluck dishes and games. Depending on how many people participate, you may want to have more than one game being played at the same time. You could also break into two groups and play games as a team like Charades, Pictionary (using a large white board), Scattegories, or Balderdash. Don’t forget to stop at midnight to offer a toast with Sparkling Cider or another sparkly beverage.
  1. Clam Chowder and Round Robin (Around the World) Ping Pong. Serve a big pot (or vat) of clam chowder and crusty bread, and have your guests bring the side dishes and desserts. Follow up your meal with a boisterous game of Round Robin Ping Pong.
  1. Marathon Movie Night
    Make a bowl of popcorn, whip up some hot chocolate, bake some cookies, and gather cozy blankets for bundling up in front of the TV for a Marathon Movie Night. I realize families can have different ideas about what is appropriate for their children, but some movies that our family enjoy are: The Princess Bride; Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Toy Story 3; and all three of the Chronicles of Narnia Some of the holiday classics like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph’s Shiny New Year can be fun at times, if for no other reason than to marvel at how much animation has changed! If you have older children, break out the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogies, stock up on Elven and Hobbit foods (lambas bread or seed cakes, anyone?), and settle in for a trip to Middle Earth.
  1. New Year’s Resolution and Prayer Box
    Have everyone in your family place their New Year’s resolutions, prayers, and wishes in a box. Do not open it again until the next New Year’s Eve. If you are doing this with friends or extended family members, provide a shoe box for them to take home with their resolutions, etc. If you’d like, decorate the box(es).
  1. Jar of Memories
    Over the course of the year when something memorable happens (i.e., someone says something funny, someone has a fantastic day, your child wins a game, a beloved friend or family member comes to visit, etc.) write it down on a piece of paper and place it in a jar. When New Year’s Eve arrives, take time to read, laugh, and remember the past year. Incorporate the reading of these memories into your New Year’s Eve celebration. After you’ve read them, save these precious memories in a scrapbook. (Of course you will need to start this activity after the New Year begins.)
  1. Hour Countdown

I have seen different versions of this idea for years on the Internet and I still like it. I think it’s especially fun for families who have smaller children.
Decide when you want to begin your celebration and how many hours you want to count down and gather one lunch bag, box, or another container for each hour. For instance, if you plan to start at 7 p.m. and ring in the New Year at midnight, gather six containers (7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m., and 12 a.m.). If you plan to begin your party at 6 p.m. and intend to send your children to bed a little after 10 p.m. you will want to have five containers. If you’d like, print out a clock for each box that shows the hour and attach it to the container.
In each bag or container place a slip a slip of paper that describes how you will celebrate that hour, as well as any necessary items. For instance, make New Year’s Eve cookies from 7 to 8 p.m. and place the container of icing and sprinkles into the container. Some of the ideas that I mentioned above (New Year’s resolutions and goals; reading the slips of paper in the Jar of Memories; charades; a board game; etc.) can be incorporated into this countdown as well.
Even if it’s doing Karaoke, playing the same board game every New Year’s Eve, making homemade pretzels, or something else, start a tradition—something you do every year—that your family will look forward to each time New Year’s Eve rolls around. Harness the moments now and create traditions and memories for later.
So … what will you be doing on New Year’s Eve? We would love to have you share your ideas and traditions in the comment section!
Marla Schultz is the wife to Rick; homeschooling mom to six fantastic children, ages 6 to 17; and the Managing Editor of Molly Green Magazine. Marla enjoys writing, crafting, and planning and hosting themed birthday parties and teas.

4 thoughts on “A Countdown of New Year’s Eve Celebration Ideas”

  1. I’m definitely going to start a memory jar! We did a Thankful Tree last year in November, and I saved all of the leaves with everything we were thankful for. It’s been awesome looking back at those memories during this season. I can’t wait to make a jar of an entire year!! A way to focus on and remember the positives throughout the year ???

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