I’m loving our new series, “Ask Jennifer.” This is your chance to ask me any party question you may have. I issue the invitation on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ on Fridays. Want to know how to recreate something you’ve seen on Pinterest? Stumped for a party idea? Ask me! I’ve gotten some great questions, so as long you all keep them coming, I’ll answer your questions each Monday. Today’s question comes from Sue and it’s about throwing a New Year’s Eve party.

Ideas for hosting a New Year's Eve party with kids by The Party Teacher

Hi Jennifer!

My girls still talk about their fairy party way back in March! They play with their houses and wear their necklaces too! We moved into a new house a month ago and we’ve been thinking about having a new house party.  Then I looked at my schedule for the summer and we don’t have time. I was thinking of an adult party for New Year’s Eve. Most of my friends don’t really do a lot for New Year’s since we have little kids and waking up in the morning is not fun. This year I want to change that. I need to start planning now so I can budget. Do you have any adult New Year party ideas or plans? I cannot believe that I am thinking about New Year’s.


Hi Sue!

Love this question! I am usually a New Year’s Eve dud. I can work til midnight, but trying to have fun til midnight turns me into a pumpkin. I think that to get parents out on New Year’s, you have to make your party a real draw — it has to be worth “the hassle factor” as my husband calls it.

The Invitation

Set the tone with a great invitation. There will be more on Etsy closer to New Year’s, but here are a few available now that I really like.

From Loralee Lewis, start the New Year with a clean slate

This invitation would launch you toward a chalkboard party theme. Loralee offers an entire line of coordinating paper goods, all pre-printed and cut for you — easy as can be — especially nice after the holidays when you’re tired. Here is Loralee’s party for some additional inspiration.

NYE Loralee Lewis

From Bash Studio, introduce some confetti and color

NYE Bash Studio

From LA Shepherd, a gold, purple and black countdown invitation

NYE LA Shepherd

Party Theme

Your question makes me think about non-traditional New Year’s Eve party themes. Here are a few jumping off points.

Set Your Clock Ahead – For parents who aren’t up for a late night, set or clocks ahead or decide to celebrate another time zone’s New Year’s. Decorate your party areas with clocks, all set ahead. So if your party starts at 9 p.m., set your clocks for 10 p.m. For my New Year’s Eve Block Party, I gathered clocks from around my house, then supplemented those with clocks from Goodwill. A little spray paint tied everything together.

Budget Friendly New Years Eve Block Party by The Party Teacher - tick tocking down to NYE

Let’s Have a Ball – This idea is inspired by the ball dropping. Since you’re planning ahead, start looking now for beach balls or those $1 rubber balls you find in the grocery store. Try to choose solid color balls in one or two of your party colors. Group these around your dessert table and hang some from the ceiling if you can. Here’s inspiration from Pen ‘n Paper Flowers via Hostess with the Mostess.


Let’s Have a Ball, version 2 – I love these painted and glittered Ball jars from Jax and Jo’s. Use these for displaying flowers or cake pops. Use more Ball jars to serve drinks.

Glittered ball jars

For other fun New Year’s parties, check out this post.


You don’t have to decorate your entire house; just a few key areas will do the trick. Concentrate on your dining room (where you’ll have food) and your fireplace mantel (in the living room where your guests will gather). You’ll get more impact by concentrating on a few areas than by trying to scattered decorations throughout your home.

And where you can, reuse Christmas or other decorations to save money. Christmas ornaments, like the ones I used here, would work perfectly for the Have a Ball theme.

Budget Friendly New Years Eve Block Party by The Party Teacher - ornanments

And glitter seems to me to be a must-have, regardless of your theme. Here are some decorations I love.

From The Flair Exchange

The Flair Exchange Tassles

From Hoopsy Daisies

Garland by Hoopsy Daisies

From Dill Pickle Picnic

Straw flags from Dill Pickle Picnic

To Invite the Kids or Not?

Question: are you inviting parents and children or just parents? Inviting children means creating two party spaces (one for adults and the other for kids), two sets of food and activities for the kids.

If you do invite the kids, here are some tips:

  • If the kids are relegated to your playroom, have a babysitter on hand. Pop in frequently to make sure the babysitter hasn’t lost her mind.
  • Plan activities for different ages of kids. And don’t count on a movie to keep them busy for 90 minutes. Sometimes kids in a large group have trouble concentrating on a movie.
  • Over-plan your activities because sometimes it’s hard to gauge which activities will go quickly. But also let the kids just play – they can make their own fun and you can step in with games/crafts if they get stuck.
  • Any crafts: choose projects that require minimal supervision and won’t create mess: no scissors, no liquid glue.

Need some activity ideas for the kids? Here you go:

  • Have the kids decorate their own party hats.
  • With supervision, let the kids make their own mini pizzas or frost and decorate cupcakes. Top the cupcakes with sparklers at midnight for a kid’s “toast.”
  • Arm the kids with disposable cameras to capture all the happenings from their party.
  • I have to say I’m not big on encouraging kids to be loud – they are so loud naturally! – but I love the idea of bubble wrap on the floor for stomping on at midnight.
  • For a variation on resolutions, make predictions for the New Year. Save these and pull them out next New Year’s Eve to see who was the most accurate.
  • Get a roll of butcher paper and have the kids make a timeline of their milestones for the year.
  • Countdown the hours or minutes til midnight with a paper link chain.If you want noisemakers, have the kids make the rain stick variety: toilet paper rolls, crunched up tin foil, and uncooked rice. Seal the ends well and decorate.

Liquid Refreshments

And if parents are driving with kids, you want to carefully think about serving alcohol. That’s just plain hard to do when the tradition is to toast with champagne at midnight. Maybe you serve a signature champagne cocktail plus beer, but cut that off at least an hour before midnight. Then serve small flutes of mock champagne just before midnight. Who has any ideas for helping to protect your guests from themselves?

While we’re on the subject of libations, I have to say I am not a fan of serving mocktails to kids. I just think it sends the wrong message. It actually makes me really uncomfortable–kind of like candy cigarettes. I shall now descend from my soapbox.

Budget Friendly New Years Eve Block Party by The Party Teacher - milk bottles

More Ideas!

We haven’t even touched on the specifics of food or music. For even more ideas, follow my New Year’s Eve Inspiration Pinterest board. Or, ask me to create a Custom Party Plan. I’d love to help you plan your next party!

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Plus, you'll get all the latest blog posts from The Party Teacher.

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