The good news: there are a ton of crafts you and your kids can make for New Year's Eve. (Maybe while you're all trying to stay awake that late!)
The bad news: most of them make noise, or a mess, or both.
On the up side, your kids will love this stuff!
One of the biggest parts of the New Year's tradition across cultures is the practice of making lots of noise to ring in the New Year. In many cultures, you are scaring away the old year. In others, you are simply making a joyous noise to celebrate the turning of the calendar. But no matter how you slice it, fireworks and big noises are in!
There is a wide variety of noisemakers that you and your kids can make. You are probably already familiar with most of these, be they castanets made out of large buttons, or tambourines made out of paper plates glued together with beans trapped inside.
Probably the best/worst noisemaker craft is this one I found online: the New Year's Pot Banger. It's a decorated large wooden spoon, which your tykes can use to bang pans at midnight. I got a headache just looking at it. Which means your kids are guaranteed to get stoked about this project!
Confetti is a big part of New Year's Eve. Just watch the celebration in New York when they drop the ball at midnight. Confetti everywhere! Your kids will want their own ticker tape parade. Hopefully the climate is mild enough in your part of the world that they can do this outside, with bird seed.
If not, then maybe you can introduce them to an awesome new tradition called "Vacuuming The Entire House On New Year's Day." Pretend like it's a ritual! You know, about vacuuming up all the leftover bad luck from the year before. Something like that.
The best mess-maker I found online is this offering from Martha Stewart called the "confetti egg." You blow out an egg, then fill the shell with confetti. To deploy it, simply smash the confetti egg on your younger brother, or any person unwary enough to sit with their back to the room on New Year's Eve.
This project at least combines maximum amounts of keep-them-busy with minimal amounts of mess. Although you will end up with dried eggshell in your hair. It could be worse.
And finally we come to the "silly hats" segment of crafts. Basically you can use whatever crafts you have on hand to decorate party hats, party glasses, what have you. Make it a contest, with the silliest hat winning a prize! (Clever parents will define the prize as "getting to be the one to vacuum out all the bad luck on New Year's Day.")
For maximum New Years-itude, these projects should include lots of glitter and silver and stuff. Martha Stewart to the rescue again: you can use your decorative tinsel boas from Christmas to create New Year's decorations. Thrifty AND sparkly!
Photo credit: Flickr/valkyrieh166