After the whirlwind of the December holidays, New Year's Day might arrive with your bank account and energy level seriously diminished. But with a bit of ingenuity, New Year's crafts and other activities don't have to be draining. If you're looking for something to do on New Year's Day, check out these fun budget-friendly activities for the whole family.
Write a Family Letter
Fantastic Fun and Learning blogger Shaunna Evans suggests writing a family letter about the year that has passed and the year ahead.
"Each year, we write a brief family letter that recaps some of the major events that happened in our lives in the past year," she blogged. "We also include something that each of us hopes for in the year to come. As [her children] get older, we will include a place they would like to go, something they would like to learn and a way they hope to help others in the coming year. We will also take some time to read letters from previous years."
Put Together a Puzzle
Puzzles are fantastic to get the whole family to work on something together at the start of a new year and can last much longer than the New Year's Day holiday.
Pick a puzzle of appropriate complexity based on the age of your children, and find a clear space outside of a heavy traffic area to set up the puzzle to work on it throughout the day and beyond. If you like, you even can frame the puzzle after you're done and hang the results in your hall as a happy New Year's Day memory.
Make a Wishing Tree
A wishing tree is a beautiful and hopeful note to start the new year and can double as decor and a conversation starter in your home.
To make a wishing tree, head to the market or a nursery ― or even just outside ― to gather a few long, spindly branches. Then, place them in a vase. Get out string or ribbons, then paper and markers.
Have the whole family write their wishes for the year on the strips of paper and hang them from the tree for luck. If you need inspiration for what to write on the paper, here are some resolutions to get you started.
Start a Memory Jar for 2018
Family Focus Blog founder and editor Scarlet Paolicchi suggests starting a memory jar for the year.
"The jar can be an easy place to deposit special memories throughout the year ― like notes telling funny stories that happened, photos of a fun event, ticket stubs from a concert," she said. When the year ends, you will have an incredible, detailed, memory-packed time capsule of 2018 to look back on for years to come.
Have a Picnic
Although it might be too cold outside for a traditional picnic, it's never too cold to have one in your living room.
Have everyone pack their favorite picnic food ― from strawberries and cheese to PB&J sandwiches and lemonade ― in a proper picnic basket, then spread a blanket on the living room floor and gather everyone. It's amazing how a little change of scenery can elevate an entire meal.
Watch the Rose Parade
Even if you aren't a football fan, the Rose Parade on New Year's Day is an American tradition you don't want to miss. Held before the famous game ― the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. ― the Rose Parade features fantastic floral floats that the whole family will love to admire on television.
"Make a special breakfast as you watch the Rose Parade," said Tracie Fobes of Penny Pinchin Mom. "Have everyone [in the family] vote on their favorite float."
Watch Movies With Popcorn
If you're feeling a little worn out from New Year's Eve, a movie day or night with popcorn is a great way to create a family memory as you're enjoying a little peace and quiet for yourself.
Simply pop some popcorn and fire up Netflix or a few DVDs. Or, "stop by Redbox and grab a few affordable movies, pick up some popcorn and then stay up late enjoying the evening," said Fobes.
In case you missed any of these family favorites during the holiday season, movies such as "Home Alone," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Frozen" are excellent options for the last day of the traditional holiday season.
Camp Out in the Living Room
If your picnic was a hit, consider extending your home's time as a faux outdoor area for several hours by turning the living room into a campground. Break out the tent from the basement, bring out the sleeping bags, roast marshmallows over the oven and tell scary stories as the sun goes down.
Make Your Own Poppers
Because there's no need for the party to end on New Year's Eve, the entire family will love making poppers to celebrate the first day of the new year as stylishly as they celebrated the night before.
Poppers are one of the top New Year's Day crafts for kids. Lifestyle and motherhood blogger Jessi Wohlwend has a step-by-step video tutorial on how to make your own poppers with just a few materials, some of which you might already have around the house. "They're perfect for New Year's, Christmas, the Fourth of July, birthday parties, graduation parties or any fun celebration," she wrote.
Play Board Games
A winter's day is the perfect time to break out board games that might be collecting dust in a closet or in the basement. Depending on your mood, everything from Twister to Candyland to Monopoly can entertain your family for hours.
Don't forget the camera to document the proceedings — and consider letting the winner of each game pick what the family makes for dessert that night.
Make a Time Capsule
The first day of a new year is an appropriate time to reflect on what happened in the previous year and how that year will be remembered. Have your family spend some time on New Year's Day gathering items around the house that will help them remember 2017. The items might include newspaper clippings, magazines, books, photographs and ticket stubs.
Create a New Year’s Handprint Poster
A charming tradition to start each new year is a handprint poster using your children's handprints or your entire family's. Everyone whose print is going on the future heirloom should dip their hands into paint ― gold or silver are particularly fun and festive for the holiday ― and press them firmly on a sheet of construction paper. Label with the year, and hang or frame next to those from years past as your collection grows.
Make a Resolutions Wreath
Another fun craft that can double as both decor and a practical reminder is creating a resolutions wreath with your children. Help them trace their hands on construction paper, then cut out those hand traces along the lines. Repeat this process so there is one hand for every resolution your child has.
Write the resolutions on the hands, and glue them together in a wreath shape. When finished, stick it on the refrigerator door so you and your child can see it and be reminded of their resolutions in the year to come.
The Results Are In: Here Are the Top New Year's Resolutions for 2018
Make Chocolate and Cheese Fondue
One of the best things to do on New Year's Eve is make fondue, and there is no reason this shouldn't be true the following day. Pretty My Party recommends chocolate and cheese fondue for New Year's.
"Crazy Little Projects has a great Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fondue recipe for your disposal," the blog reads. "But the great thing about fondue is that it's pretty much an easy way to entertain and eat. Have lots of goodies out to dunk in the chocolate. And if you want to get really crazy, you can even have some cheese fondue on hand. I'm telling you … it will be a hit."
Have ‘Noon Year’ Countdown
New Year's Eve with kids might not be like New Year's Eve before kids. Red Tricycle blogger Allison Sutcliffe suggests staging a second countdown to the new year.
"If you're like most parents, you probably spent [the midnight countdown] snug in your bed, dreaming, with the tot lot doing the same just down the hall," she wrote. "So, why not re-create the New Year moment at noon on Jan. 1 when everyone is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Go big with this one: countdown, toast, hats and party blowers."
‘Mug’ Your Neighbors
Sutcliffe also suggests hosting a "mugging" to get to know your neighbors better.
"With everyone off work and school, why not host a mugging for your neighbors?" she wrote in her Red Tricycle blog. "Have each guest bring a coffee mug that they use as a plate. You provide warm comfort foods that they simply ladle into their mugs. The best part? Partygoers big and small can easily mingle as they munch, mug in hand."
Plant a Tree
A fun and green option for a New Year's Day activity is to plant a tree with your children, which you can watch grow together as this year — and many to come — progress.
Head to a nursery to pick out a baby tree, then bundle up and dig a hole together in your yard to plant the new tree. If you live in a cold climate and the ground is too cold, plant the tree in a container and then dig the hole to transfer it to when the thaw comes around.
Have a Slideshow of the Best of 2017 Photos
Even if you haven't organized and edited your photos from 2017 yet, you likely have an incredible trove of memories from the year sitting in your phone. Hook your phone or laptop to the television and screen a slideshow of the best of your 2017 photos. It will be all the better before you edit, as outtakes often make for the best photos.
Have a Meal of Highlights from 2017
A typical question, but one that everyone likely will have an enthusiastic answer to if they think hard enough, is what their best meal of 2017 was.
When you have the entire family's answers, look in your kitchen to see if you have the ingredients to re-create any of them. This makes for an easy way to plan a dinner menu and ensures you will have a lot of happy people heading to bed on the first night of the new year.
Cook a Prosperous Meal
Sutcliffe recommends cooking a dish that is rumored to bring good luck to all who cook and consume it.
"Give in to superstition and gather the gang in the kitchen to cook up some Hoppin' John stew, a noshable meal that's sure to lead to luck in [the new year]," she blogged. "We heart Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond's recipe of this unexpectedly healthy, traditional Southern recipe."
Plant a Lunar New Year Garden
With one holiday season on its way out, it's great to give kids another one to look forward to. The editors of Publications International suggest planting a Lunar New Year garden for kids.
They recommend including ample narcissus in the garden — known to be a traditional New Year's flower in China, it symbolizes good luck.
Conduct Family Interviews
Teach Mama blogger Amy Mascott suggests starting off the new year with interviews of the entire family.
"No pressure, no stress, just a few questions to kick off the year and to summarize where we all are as far as favorites, dreams, ideas and activities are concerned," she wrote. Items on her questionnaire have included favorite colors, favorite foods, best friends, favorite things to wear and coolest things you've learned in the past year.
"When everyone has completed his or her interview, we take turns reading answers and sharing," she wrote. "Sometimes, we video everyone reading."
Make Winter Wonder Ice Votives
This beautiful crafting project will enchant you and your children alike. This Heart of Mine blogger Amy Christie provides step-by-step instructions.
Christie suggests mixing water and glitter, then pouring the mixture into large plastic disposable cups. Place a smaller plastic disposable cup inside the larger one and anchor it in place with rocks or tape. Then, stick the cup tandem in the freezer. When it is good and frozen, detach the cups from one another, and you'll have beautiful votives to stick candles in to illuminate your home — and even your driveway at night.
Build a Snowman
If you are lucky enough to have a blanket of snow on New Year's Day, take advantage by bundling up the family and heading outside to build a snowman — or even a family of snow people representing your family.
"If it's not too cold and blustery out, try building a whole snowman family, or have a snowman competition," wrote We Have Kids blogger Kathy Sima. "See who can build the silliest snowman ― or the tallest, or the one who most looks like Uncle Ed. Use your imagination, and have fun with it."
Sima suggests sledding as an alternative activity for a snowy New Year's Day.
"If you think back to your childhood and try to remember times you had fun in the snow, chances are that there was a sled or toboggan of some sort involved," Sima wrote on her We Have Kids blog. "You'll want to make sure that everyone has warm boots, hats and gloves or mitts to keep them warm and dry, although you might get pretty warm walking back up the hill if you do it very many times. Snow pants are a good idea to keep that cold snow from soaking through."
Create Snow Art
A less physically demanding activity, if there is snow, is to create snow art using food coloring and a fresh carpet of snow as a canvas. Fill spray bottles with food coloring and water, and then head outside to unleash your creativity with your kids on the freshly fallen snow.
The end of gingerbread house season doesn't mean kids will have less fun whipping up baked goods in the kitchen with you. For a particularly appropriate treat to make, try Portzelky — traditional New Year's cookies that are deep-fried and come dusted with confectioners sugar.
Frugal Fun: 22 Uses for Your Leftover Candy Canes
Make Magazine Mosaics
Blogger Meredith Johns suggests getting crafty by making magazine mosaics.
"Have kids cut out different colors from the pages into small squares. Next, sketch a design on a paper plate. Then use glue and a paintbrush to make a colorful mosaic," Johns wrote.
Hang the results for a fun addition to your holiday decor heading into the new year.
Craft an Indoor Snowman
If you don't live in a cold climate or don't have snow on New Year's Day, Johns suggests getting creative by building an indoor snowman out of marshmallows.
"Outline a snowman on construction paper and trace glue around each circle. Place mini marshmallows onto the glue," Johns blogged. "Add details with other materials from around the house. Grab scraps of felt for his hat or yarn for his scarf, and color in his face with markers or dried food products. When he's dry, the kids can name and hang him up in the house."
Make Snowflake Garlands
Although the holiday season is ending, the winter season is just beginning. Help your kids create garlands of snowflakes to string throughout the house to celebrate the new season. All you need is white paper, scissors and string.
First, cut circles out of the paper, then fold the circles in half and in half again. Cut triangles, rectangles and semicircles at random along the edges of the snowflake, and when you open it, it will be one of a kind. Fasten these along the string and hang up as many around your house as you like.
Get Started on Your Valentines
If you and your kids are feeling a bit down because the holiday season is ending, starting on your Valentines could be a fun way to cheer up.
All you'll need are crafting items you probably have around the house, including construction paper, glitter, glue and magazines for cut-outs. Lay all the supplies on a table, and get busy and excited for the next big holiday.
Never Too Early for Love: The Best $20 I Ever Spent for Valentine's Day
Draw on the Windows
Thanks to the sheer novelty factor, kids will get a serious kick out of drawing on the windows with dry-erase markers, and you'll have the ease of simply wiping off the results when the activity is over. Have the kids draw whatever they like, or have them make a portrait of your family or activities they loved over the past year, wishes for the new year or New Year's greetings for passers-by.
Get in the Photo Booth
Although everyone loves a good photo booth at a party, renting one typically is expensive. But most computers now come with built-in or easily downloadable photo booth software.
So grab some fun, silly props you have lying around — such as neckties, masks and costume jewelry — and get snapping. See how many people can be crammed into one photo and who can keep a straight face the longest amid the silliest prompts.
Feed the Birds
A great way to start the year on the right foot is by getting out into nature and seeing your children connect with animals. Feeding the birds also is easy on the wallet.
Just head to a pet supply store to pick up some bird feed, and then take a walk in any park or wooded area where you're likely to see birds. Have your children scatter the bird feed, and watch the happy bird families come to feast.
Have a Treasure Hunt
Kids will love the competitiveness of a treasure hunt and the thrill of finally finding whatever you have them seek. One fun way to pull the Christmas decorations down and to have fun together is to take the ornaments off the tree and hide them throughout the house.
Each time your child finds an ornament, he or she will win a point in the treasure hunt. The kids then return their find to its proper storage box so the decorations can be put away by the end of the day until next year.
Disclaimer: The photos used in this article are representational for the suggestions listed, and personal results may vary.