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Celebrate New Year's Eve 2021 as a family this year with these virtual food, game, and party ideas that bring the fun—and even loved ones—straight to your living room.

By Melissa Klurman
December 28, 2020
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It probably goes without saying, but closing the door on 2020 can't come a minute too soon. In fact, we're looking forward to welcoming 2021 with a big celebration. A big, family-friendly, completely social-distanced and COVID-19 compliant celebration that is—and yes, such a thing does exist!

A portrait of a girl holding a mobile phone in front of white wall
Credit: GETTY/Milko

If you have little kids, NYE isn't a stay-up-late, open-bar kind of night anyway. Being home (and not searching for a sitter) is way easier, even in a non-pandemic year. But celebrating from your couch doesn't mean you have to give up on making it a special night. First things first, have everyone dress up, or lean-into a full pajama party scene. Next, bling out. You can buy hats, streamers, and noisemakers, or you can craft your own. JOANN Stores experts have several online free tutorials to make everything from festive New Year's headbands to wands, crowns, and glasses.

Decorate your space with streamers and lights, or add backdrops like this celebratory Times Square one from Party City. Then take some silly selfies to post on social media, you can even add photo booth props for the whole family.

Once you and your space is decked out, plan to do one or a few of these fun ideas for a safe, social-distanced New Year's Eve to remember.

Cook Dinner Alongside an Expert

If you're anything like us, you've now planned, and cleaned up, enough meals at home in 2020 to qualify as a Top Chef contestant. Make this feel like a real holiday treat by bringing in an expert, virtually, to guide you through a special dinner experience. Get ingredients delivered from Goldbelly and cook pizza along live with Emmy of Emmy Squared. The experience even includes a cocktail kit for the grownups that pairs perfect with your pizza. Truffle Shuffle also offers a video class, plus all the ingredients shipped to your door, to make a decadent truffle topped mac and cheese. (You can leave some non-truffle topped for the kids—more truffles for you!)

Party Around the World, Starting in Times Square

Since you have the magic of the internet at your fingertips, it's easy to dial into celebrations around the world. In fact, this year, the world-famous party in Times Square is going entirely virtual on a newly developed website, and it includes live streamed celebrations around the globe starting at 6 p.m. You could actually say Happy New Year every hour until your kids pass out! Plus, in between the streams, there will games and other interactive features.

Attend a Virtual Noon Year's Eve Party

Who says you have to ring in the new year at 12 a.m.? Why not try 12 p.m.? Picking lunchtime for your celebration is a great way to let little kids in on the countdown fun before nap time. You can find live virtual celebrations for families pretty much around the clock on December 31. Here's a few free options to choose from on Eventbrite:

Play Party Games with Friends

We know the kids miss their friends, because we miss our grownup ones, too. So this might be a great night to reconnect, from afar, while we remember the good times. We're big fans of the interactive, social-distanced party games that you control with your phone on Jackbox, which offers plenty of trivia-style, fill-in-the-blank options, including a few updates for the holidays. (This is a good one for ages 10 and up.)

Host a Virtual Movie Night

Create a movie night with friends in other houses using the GroupWatch feature on Disney for kids of any age. A few to consider: High School Musical (includes a New Year's Eve party), Cinderella (getting ready for the "ball"), and Ratatouille (food and celebrations in the City of Light). Give the movies a festive feel by dropping off (or mailing if you're super organized) a hot cocoa kit for friends, advises entertaining expert Paul Zahn. Create baggies with items like marshmallows, hot cocoa mix, and mini candy canes, and place them in a Mason jar, then add a label and a bag of microwave popcorn. You can all sip your cocoa straight from the jar while you watch the movie together from your own homes.

Create a Digital Time Capsule

2020 is going to be one for the history books, and not one we'll soon forget. Help your kids cap off the year by making a time capsule, says Michelle Stansbury, Zulily lifestyle expert. You can always do it the old-fashioned way: grab a Mason jar and have kids fill it with keepsakes from the previous year, including a family photo, then seal it up not to be opened for a decade or two. But this year, consider a virtual version, like Memories. The site lets you send messages to a loved one anywhere in the world via email or text message, or even to yourself, to be delivered in the future as a reminder of this moment in time.

Sing Together in a Virtual Karaoke Session

What kid doesn't want to let loose and have some noisy fun? Book a virtual karaoke room and invite friends and family to join for an epic jam session or raucous dance party. Let kids turn up the volume as you countdown the end of 2020 at whatever time you choose. See ya 2020, can't wait to meet you 2021!

Comments (1)

Anonymous
December 31, 2020
Nice blog. The best idea is the virtual theatre at the home during this pandemic. Thank You.