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New Year’s Eve Hourly Countdown of Fun

April 6, 2021

Spoiler alert: This was SO much fun, we actually did it two years in a row! And my kids are talking about making this a NYE tradition.

This post has been sitting in my “drafts” for two years now, but considering most everyone will be celebrating NYE at home this year, I finally got my act together to post it!  I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s, and let’s all hope that 2021 brings some positive changes!  

We don’t usually have plans on New Year’s Eve.  A couple of years ago, we were at home with the boys and instead of going to bed at our usual time and waking up to a new year, I decided to attempt a fun family night.  I turned to Pinterest for ideas and there were so many great ones!  Ultimately, I decided to do an hourly balloon pop countdown and it was SUCH a hit with the boys!  They absolutely loved it, and it made the night fly by so quickly.  Shockingly we all make it to midnight, which I was not really expecting.

Here’s what you’ll need to replicate the balloon countdown:

  • Balloons
  • paper
  • scissors
  • thumbtack (or something to pop the balloons)
  • string
  • clothespins
  • Sharpie
NYE Hourly Countdown for kids

Start by writing down a list of activities for the kids to do each hour of the countdown. The first year, we started at 7:00 and did one activity every half hour until midnight. The second year, we started earlier and did them every 30 minutes, with a few bonus small activities at 15 minute increments. You are in control, so choose times that work for your crew, depending on the number of activities you want to accomplish and the time it will take to complete each one.

Our activities for the 2018 countdown included:

  • Eat a donut on a string with your hands tied behind your back
  • Share a favorite memory from the previous year
  • Play a board game
  • Have a thumb war tournament
  • Video interview each child with preconceived questions
  • Spelling stone scavenger hunt
  • Watch everyone’s interviews
  • Have a bubblegum blowing contest
  • Watch a movie and eat popcorn
NYE Hourly Countdown for kids
Eating Donuts on a String without Hands
NYE Hourly Countdown for kids
Spelling Stone Scavenger Hunt
NYE Hourly Countdown for kids
Bubblegum bubble blowing contest
NYE Hourly Countdown for kids

Because this was such a hit, we did it the very next year. This year (2019), Adam and I had plans with friends, so my mom did the countdown with the boys. I think they had even more fun with her than they did with us the previous year! Grandmas are the best!

The 2019 Countdown Activities included:

  • Gargle a song–take a drink of water, tilt your head back and sing a song while everyone else tries to guess what you are singing.
  • Play a board game
  • Bake a fruit pizza (make and bake the sugar cookie)
  • Decorate the fruit pizza (spread with marshmallow fluff+cream cheese mixture and top with fruit)
  • Learn to stand on your head
  • Play airplane (lay on your back with your feet up in the air. Place your feet on the child’s stomach, hold their hands, and slowly lift them into the air so they feel like they are flying)
  • Make paper airplanes and have a contest for whose goes the furthest
  • DIY Lava Lamps: Mix a few drops of food coloring with about 1/2 cup of water. Add 1 cup of water and let the oil and water separate. Break an Alkaseltzer tablet into 4 pieces. Have the child drop 1 peice into the water/oil and watch the lava lamp bubble!
  • Wiggle an Oreo (or cracker) from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands
  • Build something with toothpicks and marshmallows
  • Inverted balloon into bottle experiment: Place a small amount of water in the bottom of a glass bottle (we used an empty corona bottle). Stretch the mouth of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. Place the bottle in the microwave (can use a bowl to hold it diagonally if it’s too tall to fit upright) for 1 minute. (or long enough for the water to boil) . Use oven mitts to remove bottle from microwave and set it on a hot pad to watch the balloon get sucked inside the bottle!
  • Prep for NYE: get sparkling grape juice, cups, streamers, hats, etc ready for the NYE countdown!
Making a fruit pizza
Learning to stand on his head
DIY Lava lamps
Getting a cracker to his mouth without using hands

Ok, so now that I’ve shown you how much fun we had, let’s chat about how to make this idea come to fruition.

NYE Hourly Countdown for kids

Come up with several activities your family will enjoy. If you want more than I suggested above, check Pinterest for Minute to Win It game ideas.

After your activities list is complete, write each one on a strip of paper and roll it up tightly. Slide it into the neck of the deflated balloon.

NYE Hourly Countdown for kids

Blow up the balloon, tie it off, and then write the corresponding time on that balloon with a Sharpie or other permanent marker.

NYE Hourly Countdown for kids

We hung our balloons on a string that was tacked to the wall with Command hooks and used clothes pins to hold the balloons.

Decide on a starting time and when the clock strikes that time, have the child select the correct balloon from the string and pop it to reveal the activity.

NYE Hourly Countdown for kids

I hope this was helpful and maybe gives you a little inspiration for your 2020/2021 NYE celebration! We can all agree it’s been a strange year. Cheers to a fresh start and good things ahead! Happy New Year from my family to yours.

Niki French

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About Me

Hey there!

I'm Niki, founder of Midwestern Mama. This lifestyle blog is a place where I get to share things I am passionate about with people like you! I love fashion, home decor, DIY's and easy meals, among other things. I'm so glad you're here! Read More


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