For many people, New Year’s Eve brings thoughts of all-night festivities. For parents, however, the idea of lining up a sitter or dealing with overtired kids until midnight and beyond can make this holiday seem like more work than it’s worth.

You don’t have to give up on New Year’s fun, however. Whether you want to head out or stay in, there’s a New Year’s celebration that your whole family can enjoy.

1. Attend A Community Celebration

First Night celebrations are held in many cities around the country. These low-cost events focus on community spirit and the arts and often have special family-friendly areas. For details on a First Night New Year’s party in your area, visit

Even if there’s not a First Night in your area, many churches and community organizations hold New Year’s parties that are open to the public.

2. Watch The Ball Drop On The Other Side Of The World

The countdown to midnight is a memorable part of New Year’s Eve festivities, but some kids (and adults) just can’t keep their eyes open until then. Fortunately, you can find live online video feeds of New Year’s parties in earlier time zones, so gather around the computer to count down to January 1 with the folks in another country. After blowing your party horns and toasting to the year to come, you can head off to bed at a reasonable hour.

3. Host A Family Game Night

Whether your favorite family game is Trouble, Go Fish or bowling on the Wii, a game night can be a fun way to ring in the New Year. Instead of a sit-down dinner, serve an assortment of finger foods that you can munch on while you play.

4. Invite Friends Over

Sometimes family life is busy, and it can be hard to find time to get together with friends. Carve out New Year’s Eve as a special time to spend with a few other families. Invite over friends who have kids of similar ages as your children. Plan special snacks, crafts and games for the kids so the adults can enjoy one another’s company while the children hang out together.

5. Find A Place To Serve

Start your year off right by giving back to others. Volunteer at a community New Year’s Eve party, visit seniors in a nursing home or serve dinner at a soup kitchen. This is a meaningful way to recognize the holiday and it may even become a regular family tradition.

6. Have A New Year’s Day Party

If you or your kids can’t make it until midnight, shift the party to the next day. Go to bed at a regular time on New Year’s Eve, then hold a party mid-afternoon the following day. You can do all the usual New Year’s Eve activities, but at a time that you find more pleasant.

7. Celebrate At An Amusement Park

New Year’s Eve at a theme park would be a special treat. Close out the year with rides, costumed characters and entertaining shows. Many parks offer a New Year’s Eve fireworks show, often at a much earlier hour than midnight.

8. Take In A Movie

Movie theaters are typically open on New Year’s Eve, so you could treat your family to a film on the big screen. You could also stay home to snuggle up on the couch with a DVD, a blanket and a bowl of popcorn. Make it a marathon with two or three movies in a row.

9. Plan Your Resolutions

Both kids and adults can set goals for the year to come. offers printable worksheets on which kids can record their resolutions. Your family might even want to work together to set a few resolutions to keep together. Pray and ask God to help you keep your resolutions.

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry. Ecclesiastes 8:15 KJV

Ring in January 1 with friends, family, merriness and cheer. May your celebration be the start of a great new year for your family!

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