Welcoming a new year is a special time of looking forward to new beginnings, fresh outlooks on life, and celebrating all of those accomplishments you’ve achieved in live thus far. How do you plan to ring in the new year? Whether you’re spending New Year’s with your family, partner, friends, or alone, start the year off on the right foot with these New Year’s party ideas for older adults.

  1. Play party games: If you’re gathering with a group of people, party games are fun entertainment that bring everyone together. You can find dozens of free games online, or print New Year’s Eve “BINGO!” cards. There are also games that require nothing more than your mind, such as “Charades” and “Two Truths and One Lie.” You can also purchase games in-store or online, such as “Apples to Apples,” “Uno,” and “Scrabble” (make sure to use a handy word unscrambler to check on words).
  2.  Prepare good luck foods: Around the world, people celebrate the new year with certain foods. Why not incorporate some into your tradition? The Spanish and Portuguese eat twelve grapes at midnight to symbolize the twelve months of the new year. In Greece, a pomegranate is smashed on the floor in front of a door to break it open, revealing seeds symbolizing prosperity and good fortune. In many parts of the world, ring-shaped foods are eaten as a symbol of coming full circle. In Chili, lentils are eaten when the clock strikes midnight and in the southern United States, eating black-eyed peas is thought to bring good fortune in the new year.
  3. Celebrate a new tradition: In the United States, it is common to watch a ball drop at midnight. However, the world is full of other New Year’s traditions you can try. In Ireland, bread is banged against walls and doors to chase out bad luck and spirits. During a popular German custom called “Bleigiessen,” a candle is lit, and small chunks of lead are melted in a spoon held over the candle and then poured into a bucket of cold water forming shapes which are interpreted as have meaning and determining the future of that person. And those who study Reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction, may participate in a “bowl burning ceremony” where old patterns of behavior, beliefs, or experiences wished to be changed are written down on a piece of paper, and then burned in a bowl as a way of clearing the way for new beginnings.
  4. Have a theme party: Pay tribute to decades of the past, and dress up as a flapper from the roaring 20s, put on your bobby socks and poodle skirt for the nifty 50s, or wear your hair in a beehive for the swingin’ 60s. You may also choose to do a Hawaiian, nautical, or carnival theme. Try to get a photographer to capture all of the moments!
  5. Noisemakers: Invite everyone to bring or make their own noisemakers and go wild with them at midnight. Metallic noisemakers you spin around, horns, kazoos, mini champagne confetti party poppers, festive blowouts with fringe, cymbals with handles, maracas, cowbells, an air horn, and fireworks are all fun noisemakers you can buy to ring in a noisy new year and drive away supposed “evil spirits” hampering the new year. You can also create your own paper plate noisemaker by folding a paper plate in half over dried beans, pasta, or pony beads and gluing in place – or simply bang on pots and pans.
  6. New Year’s nostalgia: Go for a walk down memory lane. Bring out the photo albums and talk about family New Year’s celebrations of the past or other memorable family gatherings. Allow your loved ones to share their favorite memories and discuss highlights of events that occurred over the past year.
  7. Locate local events: If you want to get out of the house for New Year’s, reach out to your local senior centers, institutions, religious centers, YMCA/YWCA, or alderman to learn about events in your area. There could be a parade, fireworks, or party being hosted near you.
  8. Write down your New Year’s resolutions: Do you keep meaning to schedule a yearly annual checkup? Is it time to declutter the home and minimize some of your belongings? A new year is the perfect time to get motivated to finally do some of those things you’ve been meaning to do all year. Consider resolutions like exercising, eating healthier, volunteering, challenging your brain, visiting an old pastime, and spending more time with family.
  9. Have a movie night and watch films set around New Year: Get in the spirit and watch a New Year’s themed movie. Try: Chimes at Midnight (1965), Holiday (1938), ‘Til We Meet Again (1940), Rent (2005), or Holiday Inn (1942).
  10. New Year’s Day brunch: If stayingup until midnight is way past your bedtime and not possible, celebrate New Year’s Day at noon instead! Make a brunch reservation with friends at a restaurant you enjoy – or simply cook a special meal at home. As you are counting down to noon, hold up your glass of orange juice or milk, and say “cheers” to a new year!