You don't have to be old enough to toast with Champagne—or have a bedtime late enough to watch the ball drop—to party on New Year's Eve: Even young children can ring in the new year, according to party planners, with a fête that keeps them entertained and that allows you to celebrate, too. "The kids are entertained by each other," explains Sarah Glick, co-owner and event planner at Brilliant Event Planning in New York, "but the parents can also enjoy the holiday and celebrate."
Here are four expert tips to help you throw the perfect kid-friendly New Year's Eve party.
Host a combo party for kids and adults alike.
A kids-only New Year's Eve party will be fun—for the kids, that is. "You don't want to be the only parent at the party, because you won't enjoy New Year's Eve if you're the only one in charge of the kids," says Glick. With other parents present, it's easier to manage the fête and celebrate, too. To make sure both your tiniest and adult guests enjoy their respective parties, Glick suggests you create a separate space for the kids "that feels exclusive to them," such as a designated room or a section within a room. "This is fun and special for them, but also gives the parents an adult area."
Plan plenty of activities and games.
While some children can entertain themselves, others need entertainment. So, for the kids' party, "be prepared to have some fun activities planned," advises Melanie Tindell, owner and planner at Oak + Honey Event Planning Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. Don't feel pressured into planning something over-the-top, Tindell says. Instead, keep things simple: A movie night, crafting or coloring table, board game selection, or photo booth (complete with props and costumes, of course) will keep the kids occupied for hours.
Serve up kid-friendly snacks and drinks.
You don't have to plan a separate menu for your youngest guests, but your menu should include some finger-food items that appeal to kids' tastes, says Tindell. "Think about making something interactive like personal pizzas with different toppings for the kids to put on makes everyone happy," she suggests. Ice cream or taco bars are other interactive options, while trail mix is easy to make in a batch ahead of the party.
Consider an early ball drop.
Midnight may be too late for your tiniest tots. That's why Glick suggests you stage an earlier ball drop: It allows kids to countdown to the new year and for the adults to enjoy a little alone time. "There are fake countdowns for kids that you can put on the TV or that you can stream," she says. Put one on, then count down with noisemakers, confetti, and other fun activities. "Just don't forget to also change the clocks," she says. "You don't want them to catch on that it's earlier than they think."
Alternatively, Tindell says, you could throw a "Noon Year's Eve" party, hosting a morning event that will wrap up by afternoon—which leaves you plenty of time for a celebration that is exclusively to be enjoyed by guests of a grownup age.