Often times it can be very difficult to know how to fill the long hours that children have when they are out of school for the holidays, and trying to fill those hours paired with hosting the holidays can spell a really exhausting time for parents.

To help reduce some of that exhaustion, here are some things you can do with your children on New Year’s Eve.

0-2 years

Trying to navigate New Year’s Eve with a newborn can be tricky but do-able. If you can’t find a family member or friend to watch your child, try hosting the celebration at your own home. That way you can monitor your child and let him or her be a part of the party.

Here are a few more ideas:

Host a Baby Party: Invite over your friends and their babies. Set out baby foods and finger foods, plus festive drinks for the adults. Set out toys for the children to play, and the adults can visit and enjoy each other’s company. Before everyone leaves, stage a mock countdown and blow some noisemakers.

Look back on the year: With family and friends, take an hour to look at photos and share memories from the year.

Take a family photo: To capture baby’s first New Year or to make a memory last, snap a photo of your family. Hire a photographer or take a photo with your phone or camera. It’s a great way to look back and remember those early years.

Go out early: You don’t have to stay up till midnight to celebrate the New Year, go out early with your family and friends to have a fun evening.

3-5 years

Toddlers love dress up. This New Year’s Eve, try dressing up with your toddler with party hats and streamers or with your best attire to make the night feel fun and special. You could host a family slumber party in the living room to watch the ball drop or to enjoy a cozy night by the fire.

Another idea is to blow up balloons and put fun activities in them. Then every hour on the hour before the clock strikes midnight, pop a balloon to find an activity as family to do together. Not only will your children enjoy the evening, it is a great way to make family memories together. A few activity ideas include: have a dance party, make brownies, sing karaoke, pop your confetti poppers, make a toast, and make some noise at 12 a.m.

Plus, another idea is to set up a photobooth in your house. You can buy a roll of craft paper or use left over wrapping paper to set up as your backdrop. Raid your house for silly props – a feather boa, a top hat, or any other top prop to add flaire to the photo. Take our your phones or a camera to take silly snapshots throughout the night.

6-10 years

For this age range, children often want to be included in the adult festivities. To do this, you could set the clock back and do the midnight countdown together to help them stay on schedule. Allowing them to toast the New Year along with you using sparkling cider will also help them feel included.

Plus, Netflix is bringing a selection of special countdowns for families to enjoy together. The countdowns will be available on Dec. 28. You can countdown a couple of hours before the clock strikes midnight, so the children will go to bed on time. This is also great for younger ages.

11-15 years

At this age, children have likely received invitations from their friends for New Year’s Eve parties or have asked you to host a party. Before letting them leave for a friend’s, instruct them on being safe around fireworks and alcohol. If you are hosting a party, don’t be afraid to use fireworks if you live in a place where you can. The best way for children to learn to be safe around fireworks is to learn to in their own home.

Local Activities

If you would rather forgo hosting a party, there are plenty of activities around East Texas to entertain children or whole families.

  • For the whole family, Lufkin’s game store Gamer’s Hollow is having a New Year’s celebration complete with brisket, board games, give away’s, and more. Meal tickets will be $5. For more information, check out their Facebook page here.
  • The Skate Ranch in Lufkin and Skate-o-Rama in Nacogdoches will be hosting New Year’s Eve parties with door prizes, Dash-For-Cash competitions, and more. The Skate Ranch will be holding an event from 12-5 p.m. with a $5 admission and an event from 7 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. with a $12 admission. Skate-O-Rama will be open from 12-8 p.m. with a $6 admission. All skate rentals are extra. Parents who will just be attending to watch their kids do not have to pay admission. For more information, visit their website here.
  • The Woodlands will have horse drawn carriage rides and other festivities on Market Street during New Year’s Eve. For more information, visit this website.
  • For more of an outdoors approach, consider checking out your closest state park’s activities on New Year’s Eve. From geocaching to stargazing, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has an event for you. For more information, check out their events on their website here.
  • To enjoy free fireworks and friends, check out Ellen Trout Zoo’s fireworks show in Lufkin. For more information, visit the Skate Ranch and Skate-O-Rama Facebook pages.