8 Sensory-Friendly New Year’s Eve Ideas for Kids

Dec 26, 2016

Going out and celebrating New Year's Eve at somewhere other than home may be problematic for many kids with autism or sensory processing disorder due to overwhelming sensory input, new places, loud noises, disruptions to the regular routine, etc., that the party environment creates. So if you are looking for some sensory-friendly New Year's Eve ideas for kids and would prefer to stay home to celebrate, then try out one (or all!) of these simple ideas.

1. Celebrate at noon instead of midnight

Many kids with autism have sleep issues. So if staying up until midnight would disrupt your child's bedtime routine, then try celebrating at noon instead of midnight. Or try celebrating midnight in a different time zone! You could even try ringing in the new year multiple times by hopping through the different time zones.

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2. Make a New Year's themed sensory bin or sensory bottle

Playing with a sensory bin can be calming for kids who get overwhelmed by sensory input, so try making a New Year's eve themed sensory bin filled with confetti, party streamers, balloons, party blowers, glow sticks or whatever else your kids might enjoy. Or make a calm-down sensory bottle using water mixed with glitter or confetti.

3. Set up a balloon or confetti drop

Create your own balloon or confetti drop version of the ball drop to celebrate the new year. For a quick and simple idea, fill a drawstring garbage bag with balloons or confetti and pull the drawstrings closed. I personally would cut up large pieces of party streamers to make my own confetti instead of using regular confetti. Or save the ribbons, bows, and tissue paper from Christmas morning to fill the bag.

Two boys standing under a bag of torn streamers that has just been opened. They're having a blast!

Next, hang the bag upside down from the ceiling and then start your countdown. When you reach the end of your countdown, open up the bag and let the balloons or confetti fall down on your kids.

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4. Make or decorate party hats

Celebrate New Year's Eve by making and/or decorating your own party hats. They're a much quieter alternative to celebrating with party blowers.

5. Watch videos of fireworks

Instead of watching real fireworks on New Year's Eve, watch videos of fireworks. That way you can control the volume of the fireworks.

6. Cuddle up with a weighted blanket for a family movie night

Weighted blankets provide calming deep pressure and proprioceptive sensory input. So cuddle up and watch your kids' favorite movie as a simple way to ring in the new year. Be sure to pair it with some popcorn to sneak in some oral motor sensory input as well!

7. Plan a family board game night

Playing board games together is a perfect way to work on social skills, so spend New Year's Eve playing your kids' favorite board games.

8. Dress up and have a dance party

If you have active kids that need to move and wiggle, then have a dance party! Dance until it's midnight (or noon if you are celebrating it at noon instead)! If your kids like dressing up, then try getting dressed up in fancy party attire!

Article Author Dyan Robson
Dyan Robson

Read more from Dyan here.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is mom to two boys, J and K, who also teaches piano out of her home. On her blog And Next Comes L, Dyan shares her story of raising a child with hyperlexia, hypernumeracy and autism, amongst a variety of sensory activities for kids. You can find out more about their story on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.


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