Program-And-Tell: Nearly New Year’s Bash

new year's bash
So many shapes left behind at the community art table!

You’ve probably heard of New Year’s at noon programs (where you celebrate New Year’s Eve at noon for the midday crowd). But, since our regular family programs happen at 2:00pm on Sundays, we couldn’t exactly do that. We opted for a New Year’s Eve Eve celebration, with games and crafts. It ended with a mock ball drop and a bubble-filled dance party. Read on to learn what the activities were and feel free to share your own ideas in the comments!

Activity #1: Prize Walk

I love prize walks. They’re really easy to run and the kids have so much fun. What I didn’t anticipate was that kids would keep playing over and over again—I think a few even stayed at this station the whole time. I also didn’t anticipate that I would, for some reason, keep drawing the same numbers over and over again. I had to fib and pretend I drew certain numbers because some kids who had been playing for a while were starting to lose hope. Initially, I only gave out suckers as prizes. But as some of the same kids kept winning, I grabbed a bunch of stickers as a second option.

A few other rookie mistakes: I should have laminated the numbers and taped them to the floor. The longer the kids walked all over them, the more messed up things became. But I will say that having them so easy to move allowed me to take numbers out of play when fewer kids were participating in the game. Flexibility is key. And, I think 20 spaces was a few too many.

Activity #2: Corn Hole

We borrowed this game from our city’s Cultural Services department. It was nice to have one station that nobody needed to attend to, but many participants didn’t know the rules of the game so we could have at least posted those. If we’d had an additional staff person, I was going to let this be another prize station where kids could win party hats. We just ended up giving the hats away, which actually worked better overall.

Activity #3: Make a Sparkler

My coworker Patricia devised this fun project. We had a ton of styrofoam balls in our supply closet and wanted to use them up. She stuck a few chenille stems into the styrofoam ball and made it look like a firework. Some kids weren’t interested in the sparkler project and made little people instead. There were endless opportunities for creativity!

Activity #4: Community Art Project

This originally started as a New Year’s resolution/wish wall but I was worried about kids being able to reach the butcher paper so I changed it at the last minute. Basically, we just covered a bunch of tables with paper and put out some die-cut shapes and plenty of crayons. To be honest, it didn’t quite work as we’d hoped (i.e., not many people wrote/drew on it). But a coworker later told me that some attendees came to the desk and told her, with pride, that they had contributed to a community art project. So, that’s a win.

Activity #5: Ball Drop/Dance Party

I probably could have done something with a little bit more of a wow factor, but I just brought out our giant step ladder, climbed to the top of it, and dropped a beach ball that my boss and I covered in tin foil. I meant to purchase something more exciting but it totally slipped my mind while I was gathering supplies. It worked just fine, but some kids were most definitely not impressed. Next time, I’ll try to make some sort of papier-mâché ball that can break into pieces. Or just something super-duper glitzy.

The true highlight, of course, was the subsequent dance party. I don’t even remember what song was playing, but I turned on the bubble machine and we boogied around the room for a bit.

How It Went: I repeated my Drive-In Storytime program the week prior to this and attendance was very small so I was worried about planning too much for another small crowd. But I was shocked to find that nearly 100 people showed up for the bash! I only planned for 60, but it actually worked out just fine because the grown-ups just let the kids do everything themselves.

I was so busy with the never-ending prize walk that I didn’t really get a chance to check in on any of the other projects until we were cleaning up. When we do this next year (on Dec. 29, New Year’s Eve Eve Eve!), I will definitely make sure to have additional staff. I was so grateful that my coworker recruited a last minute teen volunteer because we really couldn’t have done it without them. In total, we had four people working the event but we could have used 1-2 more or just cut one of the activities.

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