- Make your own festive New Year's party hats with cardstock that you roll into cone shapes. (Link to the pattern and printables for our projects appear at the bottom of this page.)
- Headbands from a drugstore tied with tulle make cute crowns. (Pattern and printables for our projects, below.)
- Tie jingle bells to dowels for easy noisemakers.
- Cut up scraps of paper to throw when the clock strikes 12 (and keep a vacuum nearby to clean up the mess).
- Young families can set the clock ahead and declare the New Year at bedtime. Throw that confetti, blow those party horns, and bang pots. Then tuck in little ones for the night.
Turning dinner into an activity means less solo work for you -- and all family members get what they want. Here are some food ideas for your family-friendly New Year's Eve:
Main dish: Stop by a local pizza place for an order or two of fresh dough. At home, divide the dough into individual portions, put out sauces and toppings, and let everyone have at it.
Drinks: Because you might not be popping any champagne corks at this all-ages shindig, you'll want some festive and fizzy mocktails. You can experiment together with juice, fruit, or candy; ginger ale or seltzer provides the bubbles. Serve drinks in party glasses for flair.
Dessert: For dessert, bake the New Year a birthday cake. Just remember the candles!
Game night and movie night are family-fun standbys. A few tweaks can make either extra-special on New Year's Eve. Here are some game ideas for your New Year's Eve party:
Game Night: Put a sweet spin on classic games with Hasbro's chocolate editions of Scrabble, Twister, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, and Monopoly (all around $10, available at Target stores). They're dessert and fun in one: In Monopoly, for instance, real estate cards, game pieces, and hotels are foil-wrapped chocolates.
Movie Marathon: Plan a movie marathon for New Year's Eve. Pick an all-ages lineup with Big, The Goonies, and The Princess Bride, or go for wholesome nostalgia with original versions of The Love Bug, The Parent Trap, and Angels in the Outfield. Or stick with New Year's favorites such as High School Musical, , After the Thin Man, , and About a Boy. Set up a snack bar for a theater-style treat -- bowls of popcorn (cheese, caramel, buttered, and plain) with loads of mix-ins.
New Year's Theme Charades: Breathe new life into the old party game of charades by acting out your resolutions. Kids will love to see how parents express their desire for a more balanced life or better eating habits. And parents have a chance to glean insights to their teenagers' lives. Plus, when you act out your resolutions, you go public with your goals for the coming year, which means you're more likely to stick with them. If resolutions aren't your thing, make predictions for 2012. Have everyone write down thoughts -- both silly and serious -- about what the next year will hold and put the prognostications in an envelope to be opened next New Year's Eve.