Make your own noise makers. I found this clever idea over at Crafts.Kaboose.com Basically, let each child decorate their own (empty, but washed) water bottle. Fill the bottles with anything that will make noise, like beads, rice, coins, etc. Then, at midnight, they can shake their noise makers to help celebrate the new year. This is a good craft to keep them busy and occupied while they are waiting for the stroke of midnight. Although, honestly, instead of digging out the crepe paper and glue, I might opt for stickers... less messy. For a polished look, you could modge-podge over it all. For "Permanent" noise makers, add glue to the inside of the cap before putting back on.
There is always the stand-by of ordering pizza. However, my favorite thing to do for the kids is to set out a "finger foods" buffet for dinner. Fruits, piggies-in-blankies, quartered quesadillas, taquitos, etc. I let them graze, which they love, cuz then it really feels like a Par-tay! Don't forget to break out the "bubbly"... I like to get some sparkling cider or something "special" for them to toast the new year with. If you trust your kids with real glasses, check the dollar store or thrift store ahead of time for cheap champagne glasses. I like to mix & match.
Our family loves game nights. We don't do it often enough, but digging out the ol' game boards can be fun. In addition to the store bought games, here are some other game ideas:
"The Year Was..." Trivia - This is great for extended family parties. Everyone takes a piece of paper and folds it in half. On the outside of the paper, they write an event. On the inside, they write the year. Then in turn, they read the event out loud, i.e., "We had our family reunion down at the cabin and there were thunderstorms all night long. The year was..." They see if anyone can guess the year. Fun if played in groups too.
"Prediction Time Capsule" - What do you do with the left-over cookie tins from Christmas? Make Time Capsules, of course. Here's a fun game. Everyone gets a slip of paper and writes on prediction for the new year. You can even assign topics such as "politics", "fashion", "natural disasters", "medical discoveries", "world health", "romance", "movie stars", etc. Or you can assign each family member another family member to write a prediction about. Then after reading all predictions out loud, place them in the tin and "seal them up" until next year. This is a fun tradition to start. Then the next year, you start off by reading the old predictions and see if any came true!
A variation of the Prediction Time Capsule is to do a Prediction game. Have everyone write down a prediction on a slip of paper, and then put into a hat or a bowl, etc. Then everyone draws one out at random and reads their prediction for the new year aloud for the group to hear.
"If/Then Game" - This is a great one for any party. But we like it for New Years. Everyone takes a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 lined paper. Fold it in half vertically, and then unfold it. The fold should now divide the paper into two columns. At the top of the column on the left, everyone writes "IF". Above the column on the right you write "THEN". Decide as a group how many "IFs" you want (usually between 5-10). Everyone will then write their IF/THEN statements, making sure that the IF part of the statement stays on one half while the THEN part remains on the other half. An example of an IF/THEN statement would be, "If I found out I was pregnant, then that would be a miracle." or "If Johnny eats peanut butter, his face swells up do to an allergic reaction." "If Sandi threw a red shirt in the washing machine, Then it might turn all of her underwear pink!" After everyone is finished with their statements, cut each paper in half and put them in two piles; an IF pile and a THEN pile. Mix up each pile, and have everyone re-draw 1 paper from each pile. Line up the halves and then have everyone read aloud their NEW IF/THEN statements. "If Sandi threw a red shirt in the washing machine, then that would be a miracle!"
Bubble Wrap Stomp/Indoor Fireworks - Save all of your bubble wrap and have a bubble wrap stomp when the clock strikes 12! I love this cuz a) who doesn't love bubble wrap? b) it's safer AND easier to clean up than fireworks c) who doesn't love Bubble Wrap?
Time Zone Celebrations - if you have kids that go to bed early, but want to join in the fun, then set up several clocks in a row on a table or counter. Label each one for a different time zone, i.e. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. You could even do this for around the world. Then as each time zone hits midnight, have a mini celebration. This way even the little kids will feel like they have partied!
More Noise - We've done some of these before, but here's what my kids enjoy the most... (sorry, neighbors). I let them each get some pots and pans, and wooden spoons, etc. Then at midnight, I let them go outside and bang a few pots and pans and yell, "Happy New Year!" They think this is the bomb... for real. The best part is, it is FREE and there is no mess to clean up (like confetti).
I'm not sure yet if I am letting the kidlets have friendlets over for the new year or not... but either way, I've got the Aleve ready to go. :)