New Years Eve Traditions

| December 29, 2023 | 63 Comments
Family sitting by a christmas tree

When I was a kid, I remember looking forward to New Year’s Eve: It was the one night of the year that my brothers and I could stay up all night long (well, until midnight), eating junk food and watching movies until finally the ball would drop in Times Square, indicating the end of the current year (as well as bedtime). I don’t think I ever fell asleep after about the age of six… which is more than I can say about the past twelve years! Usually, I’m sleeping on the couch, and the kids wake me up a few minutes before the countdown begins.

How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? While we usually just do the junk food and movies thing, I’ve been looking into other ways to commemorate the occasion. Here are a few:

  • Go through your calendar with the kids. While we all have calendars on our phones now, I still keep a wall calendar; I think that most people do! If you have a wall calendar or a little one that you keep in your purse, chances are that you have a lot of notes written down about birthday parties, dentist appointments, and special guests. Go through each month with the kids and try to remember some of them. Some won’t seem memory-worthy, but the kids tend to remember different things that we grownups do, so you might be surprised.
  • Borrow traditions from other cultures. Either pick activities you like or research what people do for New Year’s Eve in the world where your ancestors are from. One of my childhood friends was Greek, and his mother would bake a cake for the new year with a dime mixed into the batter. The person who got the dime in his or her slice would have good luck through the coming year. We had a Spanish exchange student earlier this year who told me about a tradition where each person ate a grape during each of the 12 clock strikes of midnight. Both of these require caution, especially if your kids are small, as they could cause choking, so use your discretion and common sense!
  • Tweak the movie-night-til-the-wee-hours tradition. If your kids are little or you are an early bird, celebrate the new year at 8:00 or 10:00 instead of midnight. Or if you can’t sit through hours of kid-flicks, consider watching a series of documentaries that everyone is interested in. One year, we watched Planet Earth and played games while that was on in the background. My kids are really into MythBusters now; maybe we’ll do that this year!
  • Make your own traditions! Do whatever you want that makes the night special. Gather around the fireplace to make s’mores, go camping, have a family sleepover on the living room floor, exchange gifts, rearrange the furniture, or do anything else that you can continue year after year as a treasured tradition to look back on.

We have some quirky food traditions that we do on New Years such as the 12 grapes, a bowl of black eyed peas with collard greens and many more. If you want to know what Lucky Foods you should eat for New Year’s visit this page. Also find out WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT EAT on New Years! New Years Lucky Colors & New Years Lucky Fruits.

We wish you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve

Comments (63)

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  1. natasha brodsky says:

    Oh, this makes me more excited about New Years. I didn’t know what to do with the kids.

  2. Sandy V. says:

    We stay up and watch the ball drop in Times Square.

  3. Tammy S says:

    My kids love being able to stay up late on New Year’s eve. Even though most nights they fall asleep before midnight.

  4. Dorothy Hubbard says:

    Our family its food traditions, Black eye peas, pork & sauerkraut.

  5. Brandy Horton says:

    I love all of the suggestions. I only knew about the back eyed peas! I’m gonna use a lot of these!! HAPPY NEW YEARS!!

  6. natalie nichols says:

    Thanks for the advice. We don’t have cable, so we wont be watching the ball drop. 🙁

  7. Jerri Davis says:

    Traditions are good as long as everyone agrees on them. Thank you. Jerri Davis

  8. Kate F. says:

    I usually eat junk food and watch movies until it’s time to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

  9. Meghan says:

    Fish is lucky! Great ideas! We eat herring on New Year’s Eve for good luck into the next year.

  10. Samantha D says:

    We have collards, cabbage and black eyed peas, but I have not heard of the grape tradition!! I will be sure to have 12 grapes this year to bring sweetness to 2013. 🙂 Happy New Year to everyone!

  11. Julie Wood says:

    I like to make my own traditions and do something different every year with the family. It should be a fun day tomorrow filled with a lot of outdoor activities. We love the snow where I am at,and we will probably go skiing!

  12. Dawn Reid says:

    Getting the family together and watching the ball drop on tv

  13. Anna Johnson says:

    we just stay up and watch the ball drop, nothing special

  14. Deb Pelletier says:

    We watch the all drop at midnight, then do a big hug and kiss.

  15. Susan Johnson says:

    I used to love staying up for New year’s as a kid, even the few times my mom went out for New Year’s, she always did stuff like renting movies to watch and made up fancy schmancy snack plates for my little brother and me to pig out on. Those time were great 🙂

  16. Stephanie from CT says:

    We have always celebrated with the same 2 families, since college days … over 35 years now. Until our kids were grown, we would go to the house with the youngest baby, or one who most needed their own beds, but the kids loved staying up late, and visiting with “almost cousins” they did not see often.

  17. Nena Sinclair says:

    It was the same way for me growing up, my siblings and I were allowed to stay up on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop! I like your idea of going through the calendar with the kids, too!

  18. I can no longer msake the midnite hour. I have a friend who never fails to wake me by phone at midnight!

  19. joann tompkins winborn says:

    what wonderful suggestions! My kids are gorwn but wil share them for my grandchildren.

  20. kelly nicholson says:

    my tradition is ear plugs and sleep..ha ha

  21. Terri Herman says:

    Unfortunately my husband ALWAYS has to work on New Year’s Day @ 6 am. So this curbs our celebration. We try to have some good food (greens, pork, blackeyes) and hit the sack early.

  22. aimee webber says:

    I loved hearing about your families traditions!! we try our hardest to stay up till midnight but it’s harder and harder each year! Hahaha

  23. Melinda Dartmann says:

    Our kids are grown and gone so our New Years eve is always nice and quiet, my pig out on easy snack foods and watch the ball drop then maybe watch a movie or something together, then it’s bedtime for us. We always, always, always, toast in the New Year with a glass of champagne though. That is our tradition. But something I found truly interesting is the facts on the fish. That’s neat and I never knew that! Thanks for the info!

  24. Nicole Becker says:

    I am bringing in the New Year with my boyfriend and my 2 year old granddaughter and we are gonna bang pots and pans when it hits 12 o’clock if we are still awake!!! LOL

  25. Oralia Santiago says:

    For the first time I will be spending time with my now husband and with a baby on the way which is very special to me, but i also have adopted two young boys from his previous marriage, it will be a bit complicated since the boys were raised differently due to their ethnic backgrounds but other than that we will be doing the 12 grapes and wearing our lucky underwear 🙂 green means money and red means love i dont remember what yellow stands for but this year we will definitely be wearing green 🙂

  26. She says:

    My greatest New Years tradition, running out the back door around the house twice at the stroke of midnight, coming in the front door to be rich for the new year..did it work? Not sure, I am broke today tho…LOL

  27. Kay Culver says:

    We don’t have any current traditions. I just want sleep…lol. We used to host the party at our house when I was growing up. We’d have potluck. The kids would go play in the family room (we each could invite one friend for a sleepover) and play games while the adults…drank I guess. I never really paid any attention to them. I know when my daughter is a little older she’ll want to do something. But, I do miss playing board games all night.

  28. sherry b says:

    Really like the make your own New year traditions. having the ideas listed help me plan and look up stuff. TFS.

  29. denise smith says:

    we usually go to my inlaws for new years eve and also new years day have hot dogs and kraut and celebrate together im lucky i have a good relationship with them

  30. Micaela P says:

    I always think of New Years Eve as being a party night, so it’s nice to see family-friendly ideas for New Years Eve for kids!

  31. LC says:

    i plan to sleep on NYE!

  32. Marissa says:

    Great traditions! I don’t have any traditions of my own. I should start some!

  33. Starlia C. says:

    I remember growing up and going to a small country church with my grandmother and praying the New Year in. I hadn’t thought of that in years! My mother always ate black eyed peas and it become tradition in my family. I have two kids now 15 and 12 and we are still doing this. All though after reading your blog I think we might add the noodles and grapes in this year just to make it more fun. Before you know it we will have our dinner made completely out of luck and fortune traditions. We will also have hot chocolate and toast!

  34. Becky Richied says:

    It seems like each year I make a resolution to get in better shape. I do have to say at least each year when I make this resolution I am in better shape than previous years at the time…lol

  35. We always stay home on New Years eve and make pizza, and maybe have a small party with family and friends. Usually it is just the immediate family and we watch movies.

  36. Linda Waldman says:

    We’re on the West coast, so we can watch the ball drop at 9pm and then it’s off to bed 🙂

  37. Miranda gill says:

    this is our first year as a new family (blended his kid, my kid). so i am trying to come up with some new new year’s traditions to carry with us as a family. this helps, thanks so much!

  38. Debra Givens-Wagner says:

    A few times we went out on New Years eve but mostly we stayed at home and had our own little party with snacks and drinks and at midnight we all would bang pots and pans and yell!

  39. ArcyEm says:

    My daughter and I have created a new holiday tradition this year, starting with Thanksgiving: Shell fish and margaritas! 🙂

  40. Kimberly R. says:

    we stay up late watching movies till midnight.

  41. Rosie says:

    I like to make it a night at home, company or not. Special movie, popcorn & snacks. No alcohol and stay off the road if possible!!!

  42. Richard Hicks says:

    We always have family over New Years day and a big dinner

  43. steve mccuan says:

    its the best time to catch up on some movies i have not seen

  44. Bashir Ahmed says:

    It’s nice to see family-friendly ideas for New Years Eve for kids!

  45. Mare Mitchell says:

    I like the idea of seeing how other cultures bring in the New Year.

  46. illy junus says:

    love the idea of food and other cultures to bring the New Year tradition

  47. Briana Kennedy says:

    Well, it’s 2013 and it still feels the same as last year! LOL

  48. Kathleen says:

    Happy New Year! I enjoyed reading this post on New Years Eve traditions. We have three daughters who are all grown now, but we did some of the things you mentioned with them. Also every year, the girls would get out my pots and pans, wooden spoons, and any other kitchen item they could find to make noise and run out front and bang and clang the New Year in! I still have to laugh when I see my roaster with the dents in it. (It WAS NOT funny at the time!)

  49. June Isbel says:

    Our tradition is to have a spegetti dinner, than do fireworks with the kids. I like some of your ideas and will be trying them.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Happy New Year,

  50. Heather Hawley says:

    We stay up and watch the ball drop in NYC

  51. Kimberly Davis says:

    I always stay up to watch the ball drop. I’m from NY but live here in Virginia now.

  52. Charlotte Raynor says:

    When I was little, I was like you were. I was allowed to stay up until Midnight and watched the ball drop at Times Square with my parents while feasting on a lot of good stuff. Then I would hit the bed at midnight. That is if I didn’t fall asleep before.

  53. Carla Bonesteel says:

    Sooo….I was spending New Years Eve at home, just my boyfriend and I…I bought a bottle of champagne…We got a big Italian dinner from a local place…ate, had one drink (not of the champagne, we were saving that for midnight)…Next thing I know, I wake up in my chair, look over at him, snoring on the couch…look at the’s 10:30pm. “Let’s go to bed….” “OK”….So, we missed midnight. slept right through it. Still have a bottle of champagne in my fridge!

  54. Chrystal D says:

    I like the long pasta one! Some others are pretty cool too!

  55. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    I stay up to watch the ball fall – which nowadays is late for me!!

  56. bill elliott says:

    We start watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years show around 8:00pm until the ball drops at midnight with all our family at our house.

  57. christina says:

    my dad always use to make us eat hamhocks and black eyed peas for good luck. i don’t think he’s ever missed that new years eve meal!

  58. Loretta C says:

    I like to sleeping during count down!

  59. Thanks for sharing the Lucky Food for 2013. It has always been a tradition in the Philippines about serving lucky food on New Year’s eve. 🙂

  60. wyndwhisper says:

    we usually have clam chowder on New years eve.

    mom makes it from scratch (if she has time) and i make the rolls. then for desert we have lots of cookies and things left but i usually make a chocolate/banana cream or chocolate/chocolate pudding cake.reciept below.

    Pudding Cake
    1 cake mix-chocolate or vanilla or white
    1 large or 2 small boxes of pudding -chocolate,or banana or something that goes with cake you have chosen.
    1large tub cool whip.
    (also need ingredients as per cake and pudding boxes).

    113×9 cake pan, small wooden spoon handle plastic wrap (and sprinkles if wanted.)

    made just like it sounds, once your cake is baked and out of the oven, use a small wooden spoon handle to punch holes all over it. let cool completely,i usually speed this up by sticking it in the freezer.
    once cake is cool set to the side, in a large bowl mix your pudding as directed for pie,either 1 large box or 2 small boxes. while it is still liquid pour over cake. spread evenly as possible, top with whip cream or some prefer cool whip and spread that over cake evenly. cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate right away. keep chilled until ready to serve, the cut and serve as any other cake. return to icebox.

    tammy ramey

  61. Kim Varnum says:

    My family watches the ball drop an hour early each year cause I am in central time zone, I always have snacks at the house (espically summer sausage & cheese) with Sparkling white grape juice.

  62. cheriel says:

    our tradition in my country if you want to get taller jump many times if the clocks turn 12:00 midnight

  63. Jenny Finney says:

    I LOVE the New Year’s Lucky Food part of this article. I knew greens represented money and Black Eye Peas for fortune, but never heard of the long noodles.

    My husband hates cabbage, so to substitute, we have Kraut with Polish Sausage. BUT…you can be sure, I will have my Hog Jowl, peas and Greens!

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