This is an idea that I'd seen floating around library listservs for the past several years and finally decided to give it a shot at our library. The idea behind it is simple: host a party counting down to noon on New Year's Eve for all the little ones who can't (or shouldn't) stay up until midnight. It's a fun way to have a celebration for those too young to participate in a late-night party.
Our expectations were exceeded. We planned on 40 children attending; we had over 120 people total. We received so many compliments on the program that we are definitely planning on hosting a party again next year - but this time we'll be more prepared! Here are the activities we shared with patrons.
Noisemakers: what's a New Year's party without a noisemaker? We made very simple shakers out of plastic cups and anything that would rattle inside of it - beads, beans, and bells. We used clear cups so you could see the pretty colors of the noisemakers inside. You could tell this was a popular station as the noise level in the room grew and grew.
Party hats: again, you can't have a real celebration without a festive hat. We bought plain solid-colored party hats and set out as many different stickers as we could find to decorate them with. As I said, we planned on 40 kids, though we bought supplies for slightly more, but we still ran out of hats. One of our volunteers improvised by making hats out of solid colored plastic cups, a hole punch, and yarn. They were pretty cute.
Coloring sheets and interview: coloring sheets are always a way to fill up a preschool program and they always get used. I also found a printable New Year's interview, which I thought was cute. It asked things like the child's age and favorites and what they hoped for the coming year. I wish I had gotten to see some of the responses! The coloring sheet was a very simple "Happy New Year!"
Balloon drop: of course, the main event of the program was our countdown to noon and balloon drop. Before the program, we made a very simple balloon drop out of two paper tablecloths and some yarn. We laced the two cloths together with the yarn, then taped the whole contraption to the ceiling and filled it with balloons. When the time came, we found a fun clip on Youtube that showed New Year's celebrations around the world while counting down. We started the video with one minute to go, but didn't start counting aloud until 10. When the countdown finished, I yanked the yarn, the cloths ripped apart, and our young patrons were showered in glorious balloons. They absolutely loved this part of the program and their excitement was definitely infectious.
A toast and a fortune: after the balloon drop and as patrons gathered their belongings, we treated them to a cup of sparkling juice and a fortune cookie to get their new year started.
As I said, this program was a huge success with tons of compliments and I'm looking forward to repeating it next year!