Spending New Year’s at home with the kids this year? You can still keep the night fun! Ringing in the New Year with Kids can be a great family-friendly celebration. And now you can make it even better by making your own New Year’s ball for an early countdown with your kids!
You’ve gotta admit that even as an adult, watching the ball drop is a highlight of the night… or at least pretend it is. But no one wants to have tired, cranky we-all-stayed-up-til-midnight meltdowns withe the kids the next day. Which was the inspiration behind this craft… let the kids enjoy their very own ball drop at home and tuck them in whenever bedtime calls.
When I orginally wrote this post back in 2013, our New Year’s Eve was pretty quiet. Brad and I would put our tiny people in bed, play cards, have snacks, smooch at midnight and head to bed… if we hadn’t already fallen asleep on the sofa. However, a few years back we started hosting The Carlson’s Annual Rockin’ New Year’s Party and invite any and everyone we want to ring in the new year with. It might be one of my favorite events of the year! Sequins and fancy appetizers and cocktails, oh my! Our dining room table is extended to it’s 10-person capacity and every inch of it is covered in amazing appetizers and desserts. The kitchen island tends to be the gathering point where new friends, old friend, and neighbors begin to mix and mingle. Laughter fills the air. Story telling lasts the whole night. And our basement is exploding with squeals and laughter (and rowdiness) from all the kids enjoying their night together. (BTW… we hire a couple babysitters every year so us adults can enjoy and the kid chaos doesn’t get crazy.)
At then at 9:00, we stream the previous year’s ball drop on the television as parents and kids all join together to countdown our early new year. Brad slowly lowers our beautiful, shiny New Year’s Ball and as the countdown reaches 1, the room erupts in wishes of Happy New Year. The kids, gleaming with excitement of their fancy glass and special drink (a.k.a. a disposable champagne glass filled with sparkling apple juice), are so fun to watch. Torn between the fun of toasting and the desire to drink down those bubbles, some will sneak a sip before the glass clinking begins. Others will thoughtfully (yet quickly) make rounds to all their friends and mom and dad first before chugging their treat.
Of course, the night doesn’t actually end there. The kids dash for their pajamas and blankets or the stuffed animals they brought and cozy up in the basement for a movie and one last round of snacks. I love to sneak down and see them all settled in. There are the cuddlers who have found a friend or babysitter to snuggle up with. There are the kids who are in a TV trance, that barely blink for fear their eyes won’t open again. And then there’s the sleepers. Meanwhile, the parents finish enjoying the last few hours of the year with games and eats and deepened friendships.
Oh my gosh! Such a fun celebration! So let’s do this… let’s get you making your own New Year’s ball so you too, can embrace memories like this for yourself.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN GLITZY NEW YEAR’S BALL
- Styrofoam ball (we used an 8″)
- Aluminum foil
- Duct tape
- Large container of circular diamond gems
- Glue dots — mini 3/16″ and medium-sized 3/8″ ones (for our 8″ ball, we used about 1,200 dots)
- Eyelet screw, large
- Thin rope, twine or string
Get yo’ craft on…
Wrap your Styrofoam ball with aluminum foil. I will suggest not having your kids do this step. It sounds simple enough, but it was a little tricky. My foil wasn’t quite wide enough to cover the entire ball so I cut a couple small pieces of foil and patched over the exposed styrofoam. (Note: I used a glue dot to help secure this extra patch of foil.)
Cut 2 wide strips of duct tape and secure in an X at the top of the ball. Cover with foil. This just gives the screw a little reinforcement and will hopefully keep it from pulling through.
Poke an eyelet screw through the duct tape at the top of the ball and crank down the screw until it cannot go any further into the ball.
Next, using scrapbook adhesive, stick gems all over the ball so it has the glitz and glimmer of the real thing.
The boys started off adding the gems in lines, then began to be a little more spuratic with their placement. Dylan (our 3 1/2 year old) started to get a little antsy and placed gems here and there. We realized it was easier to achieve a filled in look by making sure each gem we added was touching 1-2 other gems than to fill our gaps with the small gems so I began reminding the boys to make sure the gem they were placing was touching as many other gems as possible.
Daddy even joined in the fun by putting glue dots on the back of the gems! I’m sure somewhere in the craft world there are gems that already have adhesive bonded to them. Unfortunately, those weren’t the gems I had purchased. So with Brad’s help, he and I were adding a glue dot to the back of the gems and laying them on the counter (glue dot side up) so they were ready for the boys to place on the ball. Having two of us doing glue dots was the only way we were able to stay ahead of the boys. So I’d highly recommend making this project a family affair. The quality time talking and working together was fulfilling. And it made the project go faster!
(Two sidenotes on adding glue dots to the gems… 1) make sure your glue dot is the same size as or slightly smaller than the gem. We had multiple sizes of gems so I got two sizes of glue dots. 2) The easiest and quickest way to add a glue dot to the gem was to take the gem, press it on to the roll the glue dot comes on, and using the gem to peel the glue dot off the roll. And it meant we had less contact with the glue than if we just used our fingers and peeled the dot off!)
Dylan’s attention span decreased as his sleepiness increased. So he called it a night while Connor and I kept going until we ran out of glue dots. We used two rolls of 300 and were only half done! Needless to say, PLAN. Plan time to make the ball. I think all together we used 1,200 gems and glue dots. It is a time consuming project for sure. But we have had years of celebrations from this one ball. Definitely worth your time!
The quality time you get with your kids creating the ball is definitely worth it too! It completely intrigued me watching Connor’s gem placement. He thoughtfully considered where to place each one based on gem size and with the mission to fill in all gaps. He happily chatted about, well anything that comes to a 5-year old’s mind. But he made sure to let me know (multiple times) that doing this activity made him happy! And, never having seen a ball drop, he was filled with curiousity of what on earth we were going to do with this sparkly orb.
“How does the ball get on top of the building?”
“Will the gems fall off?”
And then, after already working on the ball for about 40 minutes, he proclaimed, “Look, I can see my eye!”
Connor realized that as he was searching for the perfect place to add his gem, that he could see his refection in the gems. It completely amused him. As it did when a little later, he used his hands to focus the light and watch the reflections of them in the gems.
My friend, making the ball took hours. HOURS! And somehow we still have a small bald spot on the ball that didn’t get finished. But even now, 6 years later, the thrill of seeing this beautiful work of art as a symbol of hope and the joy of another year still makes our boys’ faces light up as much as it did during those hours we spent gluing on gems. Seriously, I’m not sure what shines more, the ball or the kid’s faces.
So very worth it!
Now, for the ball drop itself… simply loop twine or yarn through the eyelet screw and tie. Leave a long end to the “rope” so you can lower it from a spot in your home (hanging light, curtain rod, plant hook, etc).
I hope you and your family have an amazing celebration with your New Year’s Ball and an amazing time making it together!