Once they're old enough to enjoy a good shindig, New Year's Eve for kids is (almost) as fun as Christmas. Well, not quite: Father Christmas doesn't make an appearance, and there aren't any more presents involved. However, it's still a fun evening filled with music, games, fireworks and more, which your children might be keen to stay up for.
First things first: how on earth do you explain what New Year's Eve is to your little ones? I found this one a bit puzzling the first time around ('what is time, mummy?' was met by a resounding silence). It's a good idea to link it in with a little lesson about months of the year or the seasons. If they're old enough, you could even write some new year's resolutions together and pin them to the fridge – and see how many you can tick off!
Here are a few more tips for keeping children entertained on New Year's Eve.
look for local family party nights
As soon as they can bop to a tune, little ones are normally hooked: they love to party. Thankfully, many local hotels or kids' clubs host New Year's Eve family party nights, with disco balls and all the current pop hits (as well as a mandatory rendition of the 'Macarena'). Your kids can go in fancy dress and bust a few moves on the dance floor. They end pretty early too, so you don't have to worry about sacrificing your own plans in the process. Look out for local events on Facebook, and check if you need a ticket.
throw a family-friendly house party
If there's not much going on in your neck of the woods, do it yourself. Throw a dress-up disco at home with all their best friends – and yours. The children will love the opportunity to show off all their new Christmas toys. Meanwhile, the adults can enjoy ringing in the new year with a glass or two of bubbly. Turn it into a festive sleepover and everyone can countdown to the bells (in their pyjamas, of course).
go see the fireworks
Most towns have New Year's fireworks displays, so bring the little ones along for a colourful evening. Bear in mind that children's fears can change quite rapidly – they might have been fine with fireworks on Guy Fawkes night, but by NYE, things could have changed. Don't be too surprised if tears and tantrums lead to an early home-time.
If you do decide to attend – or host – a display, make sure you have an exit strategy. Pets can get quite stressed by noise, so leave them at home and put the TV on to cover the sound of nearby bangs. If you're hosting the party, see if granny and grandad can take your furry family members for the evening.
organise afternoon activities instead
Having evening plans with your friends that don't include your little ones isn't a crime – so put that parent-guilt away! Instead, just have a little celebration with them during the day. I've found that going out for a nice meal together helps them feel special and included. Likewise, an afternoon trip to the zoo or aquarium helps them understand that it's not just a normal day, while also giving you the evening off for a boogie.
make new year's day special, too
New Year's Day can be prime family time, since most people are off work. Invite the grandparents round and host a big family roast to celebrate the start of the new year. Another lovely way to spend New Year's Day with kids is with a ramble through the woods or a stroll along the seaside. Turn it into a scavenger hunt, and keep a present or two back from the Christmas hoard as a prize.
the midnight question: who gets to stay up?
If you have older children, you might find yourself bartering with them over the old bedtime curfew. At the end of the day, it's completely up to you if you let them stay up until midnight.
Personally, I like to set some ground rules. They can stay up, but they need to be in bed by half past. Or they can stay up, but they need to be wearing their pyjamas ready for bed. With expectations set, why not make some fruit-infused water which looks fancy (and is much healthier than juice) so they can feel all grown up and join in the toast. Then all that's left to do is tuck them up and make a New Year's wish that your little one has a lie-in so you can too!