So let me be honest. I can barely remember New Year's Eve last year. J was 4 months old and had just begun his 4 month sleep regression. My husband had to drive 2 hours away for work and on his way back he took a wrong turn and it took him a long time to get home. We ended up eating a few appetizers, drinking a glass of champagne, and going to bed around 9.
This year J will be 16 months and he's in to everything. While he obviously doesn't know what New Year's Eve is, we want to do something fun with him to celebrate but we definitely won't be staying up until midnight. I've been looking for fun things we can do as a family and asking other families with toddlers. I've come up with 7 fun ways to ring in the New Year with a Toddler.
Celebrate the New Year with a Different Country
I have a friend who has always done this with her kids. They pick a country in Europe and celebrate when they turn the New Year. They also cook a meal using food from that country. So you might choose Italy which is 6 hours ahead of us so you would celebrate at 6pm which is midnight in Italy. Then you could have a pasta dinner with wine from Italy and Italian cheese. Choosing a different country each year would be really fun!
First Night is a celebration that takes place in many large cities on New Year's Eve. It often starts in the afternoon and goes until midnight so people with young children can go to the activities in the afternoon then be home in time for bed. Activities often include music, bands, art, plays, food vendors, and more.
Have a Pajama Party
Have the whole family get into their pajamas, make a blanket fort, and watch movies, play games, or eat popcorn! Make sure to have a fun beverage to toast the New Year. There are a lot of great sparkling mocktails out there that would be appropriate for little kids. Once you celebrate the New Year everyone can sleep in their own beds or have a family sleepover in the fort.
Play Dress Up
Remember when you used to get all dressed up and go to a fancy dinner or bar for New Year's Eve? You can still dress up with the little ones this year. Grab your favorite dress, high heels, tux, or other dress clothes, put your toddler in fun dress up clothes as well, and have a fancy dinner at home with music, candlelight, drinks, and dessert.
Make Your Own Noisemakers
Lots of toddlers love crafts. Spend the afternoon making drums, shakers, or other noise makers and decorate them with the new year on them.. Glue on beads or glitter for some pizzazz. Then have a little noise making celebrate when you celebrate the new year. Don't know how to make noise makers? Check out Pinterest for tons of different ideas!
Have a Milk and Cookies Champagne Toast
Buy some cheap plastic champagne glasses and get in the kitchen and make cookies with your kids! My 16 month old loves getting in the kitchen with me so any age toddler can do this. Then pour everyone a plastic glass of milk, clink glasses, and enjoy the homemade cookies at midnight (or whenever you are celebrating.)
Make a Family Time Capsule
Have everyone in the family put one or two items in. A child may draw a picture, put in a book or toy that they don't use much anymore, or take a picture of themselves to put in. Parents may put in items such as photos from activities they've done as a family, a special drawing from a child, or other items. Seal it up, write the date on it, decorate it, then open it next New Year's Eve!