New Years Eve Fun for the Kids in Chicago

Are you looking for some fun activities for you and your family this New Years Eve in the Chicago area?   New Year’s Eve is practically synonymous with parties, but who says the grownups should get to have all the fun? Kids love ringing in the new year and making a bit of a mess along the way.   We’ve come up with a few, kid-friendly ways for you to ring in 2018 as a family!



Located at Navy Pier (which is a bonus, since its oozing with activities for kids), the Chicago Children’s Museum hosts an annual Noon Year’s Eve, with festivities beginning at 11:15 a.m.. This event features fun activities such as personalized crown making and noise-making, not to mention confetti and a special countdown. Chicago Children’s Museum: Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, (312) 527-1000. 


chicago childrens museum



Want to escape the crowds? Then head to New Year at Brookfield Zoo’s family-friendly celebration, featuring a live DJ in the Holly Jolly Theater. There are fun games, party favors, prizes and an early countdown at 8 p.m. Brookfield Zoo: 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield, IL 60513, (708) 688-8000.


free days at brookfield zoofree days at brookfield zoo



From 4:30-9pm kids of all ages can celebrate New Year’s amid magical illuminated trees and an exotic menagerie at Lincoln Park Zoo. You’ll also get complimentary festive hats, horns and party favors to add to the family fun. Lincoln Park Zoo: 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614, (312) 742-2000.



zoolights chicago




Here are some fun ideas for creating New Year’s Eve traditions for families with kids:

  1. Hold a mock New Year’s Eve for young children, celebrating at 7 or 8 p.m. instead of midnight.
  2. Make a ball-shaped piñata that resembles the big ball that drops in New York City. You can even have the kids help you decorate it with paint, sparkly beads and glitter,  At midnight, let the kids bang it open.
  3. Play some of these family-friendly New Year’s Eve party games.
  4. Ask guests to bring as many alarm clocks as they can and set them all to go off at midnight (or earlier, if you’re celebrating a mock New Year). When the alarms start ringing, bang pots and pans, toot horns and make a general ruckus as you hug, kiss and wish everyone a happy year.
  5. Take a cue from political candidates and do a balloon drop. Suspend a bunch of balloons above the party-goers, then release them at midnight. Or, fill balloons with confetti before you blow them up, then have the kids pop them at 12.
  6. After the balloons drop, play some of these fun balloon party games.
  7. Toast each other with sparkling cider, ginger-ale punch or some other bubbly mocktail.
  8. Instead of an adult beverage bar, set up a fun ice cream or hot cocoa bar for the kids.
  9. Have the kids spend time scrapbooking their memories from the previous year or making time capsules that will be remain sealed until the children turn 18–or at least until the next New Year’s Eve.
  10. Let siblings have a slumber party with one another in the living room. Pitch a tent if you have enough space.
  11. Get fancy! Play dress up with young children. Bring out the bowties, high heels, feather boas lipstick and pearls. Make it even more exciting by adding a photo booth!
  12. Host a board game marathon.
  13. Craft the night away.
  14. Throw a Bingo party. Use things like noisemakers and party hats as prizes.
  15. Host a hat-themed party, where everyone must wear a goofy-looking hat to get in the door.
  16. Many cities have community-wide “First Night” activities, which are family-friendly, alcohol-free events that usually involve live music, art, crafts and other entertainment and activities. Find out if there’s one near your home.
  17. Check the family into a hotel for an exciting New Year’s Eve slumber party. You can even ring in the new year in the hotel’s pool!
  18. Throw a karaoke or musical video game (such as Rock Band or Guitar Hero) party.
  19. Clear some space for a dance floor, turn up the music and enjoy some dance party games.
  20. Hand out glow sticks, turn out the lights and play glow in the dark party games.
  21. Buy matching pajamas for all family members and have a New Year’s Eve pajama party that includes Mom and Dad!

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