“Countdown Bags” are one of my favorite ways to ring in a new year. I started doing this when my 3 kids were little, and over the years, I have adapted this tradition in a variety of ways. This year my husband had to work until 9pm and my teenage boys made plans to play Airsoft with friends, so it was just going to be my girl and I counting down for most of the evening. I wanted to make it really fun for her, so I let her invite a couple of friends over and got to work creating a memorable tween friendly event.
I am learning that 11 year old girls love to be silly and have fun with planned activities, but also like to have a good amount of unstructured time when they get together, so I planned the night to incorporate both. I purchased a pack of shimmery silver lunch sized bags and filled them with a variety of fun things that they could do on the hour, every hour, from 4:00 pm – midnight. I bought some glittery card stock in a couple of different colors and I created clocks to glue on the front of each bag. #CommissionsEarned
I filled the bags ahead of time, and since some of the items were too large to fit in the bags, I wrapped them and included times to correlate with the bags that they went with.
The girls arrived at 4:00 and we kicked off the night with “photo booth fun!” I already had a large piece of black material that I had used for a variety of party backdrops. I also kept some props and decorations from our 2020 New Year’s Eve celebration, so I reused them and added a string of white Christmas lights as a border. The girls took a few fun shots and then went off to giggle and chat about all the things. #CommissionsEarned
At 5:00 they opened the next bag. This one had them wondering, because there was a huge ball hanging over the countdown bags, wrapped in black plastic. They had guessed that it might be a disco ball and were shocked to find that it was really light. They opened it to find a beach ball with questions written all over it in sharpie. This game turned out to be so much fun and they came back to playing it several times throughout the night.
Somewhere between 5:00-6:00 the girls ate dinner, which was just a super easy Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza and some fruit. Then at 6:00 they opened the next bag. I planned ahead for a game of “Whiteboard Pictionary” by printing off a list of fun and easy prompts. I folded each one and put them all in a mason jar and include a whiteboard marker in the bag. This is another game that didn’t take the entire hour, so it left a good amount of downtime for whatever the girls wanted to do.
7:00 was probably my favorite because I am such a crafty girl at heart. I purchased 3 plain canvas tote bags and I already had a variety of paintbrushes and acrylic paints from previous projects. I found some fun “create your own tote bag” inspiration on Pinterest and grabbed a roll of painters tape so the girls could try some of the geometric tote bag ideas. I would have to say, that they turned out pretty cute! #CommissionsEarned
The girls were so curious to find out what 8:00 was all about because they noticed at the beginning of the night that there was a large mass of “something” taped to the ceiling under a black plastic table cloth. They finally got to rip into the plastic and a bunch of balloons cascaded down on them. The object of the balloon game is to pop the balloons one at a time and do whatever activity is found on the piece of paper hidden inside. Some of the tasks I included were: leapfrog across the room, dance an Irish jig, make a 3 person pyramid, and run outside and yell Happy New Year 5 times as loud as you can.
At 9:00 the girls opened an extra little package in front of the countdown bag that was too large to fit inside. It was a small wooden movie clapboard and I included a couple of chalk pens as well. They had already been doing TikTok dances throughout the night, but this hour was dedicated time to do just that. #CommissionsEarned
By 10:00 these girls were showing no signs of slowing down, so I planned to tire them out with glow in the dark balloon games. I taped off three sections in the middle of my living room with some of the painters tape so each girl had her own zone. Then I brought out 15 balloons I had blown up earlier in the day with glow sticks inside. You can also purchase glow balloons on Amazon. We put all of the balloons in the middle and turned the lights out. I played music on my phone while the girls tried to keep all of the balloons out of their section. When the music stopped they had to freeze. I would also switch the light on and the winner was the one with the least amount of balloons in their zone. After each game, they rotated spots. I think they played about 7 rounds with lots of squeals and giggles before taking a snack break of rice crispy treats and s’mores dip. #CommissionsEarned
I wanted to do something exciting at the 11:00 hour, so I bought 3 cans of silly string and sent the girls outside for an EPIC SILLY STRING BATTLE!!! This may have only taken a few minutes, but it was hilarious to watch and was so much fun! #CommissionsEarned
Our 12:00 HAPPY NEW YEAR bag was filled with poppers and horns, so I let the girls open this one at 11:45. We also busted out the Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and some “fancy glasses!” and got ready to ring in the New Year. We ran outside at 20 seconds to midnight with poppers and horns ready to go, counted down to 2022, yelled HAPPY NEW YEAR for all of neighborhood to hear, popped our poppers, and then came back inside to toast to a new year. #CommissionsEarned
For another fun New Year’s Eve idea check out my previous blogpost: