Welcome to the sparkliest time of the year—New Year’s Eve. It’s a time for reminiscing and cherishing memories from the past year and welcoming in the new year with shouts of good cheer and toasts to prosperity for the year to come.
Spend some time in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve learning about the traditions of the holiday, enjoy quality time together celebrating family, and plan your celebration. Let the countdown begin!
Learn About Auld Lang Syne
The popular New Year’s Eve song, “Auld Lang Syne,” which means “Old Long Since” or the days of long ago, is based on the poem of the same name written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. The song is about cherishing longtime friendships and taking time to reminisce together. “Auld Lang Syne” has a long, fascinating history that will take your kids on a journey to Scotland: the land of legends, majestic mountains, ancient castles, scenic railways, and home to the world’s first floating wind farm.
Read aloud the original version of the poem—written in the Scots language— to your kids and take a closer look at the words and phrases. How are these words similar to English and how are they different? Read some of Burns’s other poems and discuss them together.
Research the Scottish people’s unique New Year’s Eve tradition of forming a circle with their loved ones, holding hands, and singing “Auld Lang Syne,” and then try it with your family.
Make a Time Capsule
Did you know that Paul Revere and Samuel Adams created the oldest known time capsule in the United States? It’s true. In 1795, the two men made the capsule in honor of the construction of the Massachusetts State House. It was opened in 2015. Do a little digging to discover what was found inside and read about some other famous time capsules.
Making a family time capsule is a perfect way to capture the best moments of 2021. Some items your family might want to include are current family photos. Encourage everyone to dress up in their Sunday best and take a picture for posterity. Then, have everyone dress in mismatched clothing and take a silly picture, and put both photos in your time capsule. Then, add photos of each of your kids wearing their all-time favorite outfit and holding a sign showing current age and height, pet photos, holiday and birthday photos, awards, lists of favorite activities, movies, books, and some newspaper clippings of current headlines.
If you want to actually bury your time capsule in your backyard just be sure to use an airtight metal container. If not, you can use a sturdy shoebox or a plastic bin, decorate it, and label it with the year 2021. Then hide it up in the attic or in a closet and open it up on New Year’s Eve 2022.
Research Celebrations in Other Countries
How do people in other countries celebrate New Year’s Eve? In Turkey, sprinkling salt on your front doorstep at midnight is believed to bring peace and prosperity into your home. Germans welcome in the new year by eating jelly-filled donuts called Pfannkuchens.
Visit your local library and look for some children’s books to use as a stepping stone to fascinating tales of happy New Year’s celebrations such as “Freedom Soup,” a Haitian story by Tami Charles, and “Happy New Year Everywhere” by Arlene Erlbach.
Do your kids love to color? In the coloring book “Happy New Year Around the World,” author Sylvia Walker shares illustrations depicting the New Year’s Eve traditions from 30 different countries.
Celebrate like royalty by encouraging everyone to dress up in their fanciest party clothes and make some easy DIY Happy New Year crowns. Cut out a crown shape from white poster board and set out colorful markers, stickers, ribbons, bows, and any other decorative trinkets you have and everyone can decorate their crowns for the evening. When finished, tape the ends together.
And don’t forget to deck your halls. Get some silver and gold helium-filled balloons and let them free-float up to the ceiling, hang different colored streamers around the house, and ask each of your kids to make a Happy New Year banner.
Brainstorm with your kids about different and fun ways to spend the evening while counting down to midnight (or earlier for younger kids) such as having a dance party, taking a walk, playing a card game, making a New Year’s prediction, playing Twister, and doing karaoke. Write each idea down on a piece of paper and drop them all into a basket. Take turns picking one or two to do each hour.
Ring In the New Year
Get ready to make some noise! Gather any musical instruments from your homeschool such as bells and tambourines and raid the kitchen for pots, pans, and spoons. Make DIY noisemakers using clean, upcycled plastic mayonnaise or peanut butter jars. Fill them with coins and bells, write “Happy 2022” on the lid, then tie colorful ribbons around the top.
As avid bird watchers, we threw handfuls of birdseed onto the grass every year at the stroke of midnight as a gift to our beautiful, feathered friends. This is also a nice, less messy alternative to indoor confetti.
Make a toast with a quick, easy-to-make, child-friendly punch—combine a 64-ounce bottle of cran-raspberry juice, a carton of raspberry sherbet, and 1-liter of lemon-lime soda.
Sing “Auld Lang Syne” together.
Gather together on the couch and end the evening with a quiet and calming Happy New Year read-aloud. Read “Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas” by Gail Piernas-Davenport, “Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution” by Pat Miller, and “New Year’s Day” by Lynn Peppas.