New Year’s isn’t just a holiday to be celebrated by adults, with alcohol and late nights. Parents with preschoolers can join the festivities and plan their own family activities to celebrate the end of the holiday season, and the beginning of the new year. With fun family games, festive treats, yearly goals and – of course – watching the ball drop, here are five New Year’s activities perfect for families with preschoolers:
Activity #1: Make cutout number cookies in the shape of the New Year
There’s no better way to celebrate a holiday than with treats and goodies! Find cookie cutters in the shape of numbers, and have your preschoolers help you bake and decorate cookies that create the numbers “2011” or another year. If you don’t have cookie cutters, simply roll the dough into coils and form the numbers yourself. You could also teach your little ones how to spell “January” or how to write “New Year’s Day” in cookie dough.
Activity #2: Make an easy list of goals for the New Year
Preschoolers may not understand the concept of creating (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions, but they can understand the simplified notion of setting goals for the coming year. Discuss with your child some easy goals they can set, such as reading one book a week, picking up their toys each night, or learning how to tie their shoes themselves.
You and your child could write a list of their goals to be displayed somewhere of prominence (or have them copy your letters, to work on their writing skills), and then be sure to date or check each goal as it is met, to give your preschooler a sense of accomplishment.
Activity #3: Pick a theme for the New Year
As a family, brainstorm for ideas for a theme for the coming year. Your family’s theme, or “mission statement,” could be a poem, famous quote, song lyric, or scripture verses. Write this mission statement on a chalkboard, paint it on a plaque, or stencil it on a wall to reinforce your family’s theme for the rest of the year. To involve preschoolers in your family’s decision, narrow down the ideas to a few you like first, before giving young children a vote.
Activity #4: Create fun New Year’s party hats
Simple cone-shaped party hats can be purchased at craft, party or dollar stores. They can also be created very easily with paper. Simply roll up a piece of paper into a cone shape, and staple or tape. A chin strap could be added with string and a hole punch. Allow your preschooler to decorate party hats for the whole family, with crayons, markers, feathers, sequins and other craft materials.
Activity #5: Have a living room campout on New Year’s Eve
A fun family New Year’s Eve activity is to spread out sleeping bags or blankets on the floor in the living room and have a pajama campout until the ball is dropped at midnight. To avoid watching TV all night, have a fun time of family board games and activities that preschoolers will be interested in – singing and storytelling are other possibilities – then simply turn the TV on a few minutes before the ball drops. Be sure to wear your party hats!
You could also put on some fun, upbeat music and have a dance party with your little ones leading up to the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve, and continue it after the clock strikes midnight (or at least until the kids fall asleep). And be sure to eat some of those New Year’s cookies!
Involving your preschoolers (and even toddlers) in the festivities of the New Year can be fun and very simple. Kids love to celebrate, and making each holiday special will provide a lifetime’s worth of cherished memories for your family.