Noon Year’s Eve @ Your Library!

Last January, I first heard about libraries hosting Noon Year’s Eve parties for kids on New Year’s Eve, celebrating the new year at NOON instead of midnight.  My only regret was that I was going to have to wait a whole year to have the event at my library. I like to have at least one special event a month – the kind of after school or weekend programming we do regularly during the summer: school age programming as it were. It keeps the staff in practice and, I hope, it keeps patrons thinking of us year round.  It’s good to make sure they have us in mind year round and not JUST in summer as the place to go with their kids for celebration, connecting, community, and fun.  Noon Year’s Eve, I knew, was the perfect event for December.

I was inspired by this post from Erin about her library’s Noon Year’s Eve and I saved it allllllllll year until it was time to have ours.  The other thing that drew me to this program was I KNEW we could make it relatively low maintenance. Here’s how we did it!

As per usual, I invited our local news source to come take pictures.  They got some great shots of all the action, so start by checking those out.

We ran the event from 11:00-12:30.  This didn’t give us a lot of time for stations since we wanted to do the countdown at noon – but that was fine, it kept things moving.  We built in time at the end for latecomers or if people just wanted to stay and keep playing. We had approximately 45 minutes at the activity stations.

Activity Stations

  • SCAVENGER HUNT After proving to be a hit EVERY TIME we offered it, we decided to ALWAYS have a search and find on your own time hunt through the library.  We printed out ten New Year’s related pieces of clip art (party horns, confetti, a clock) and hid them around the youth services area.  The kids go hunting around for them with a visual map of what they’re looking for, checking them off as they go along.  This scavenger hunt is SO POPULAR – it works for a great age range, it gets people moving instead of stuck at just one station, and whole groups of families/friends can do it together.  Once they completed this they got a temporary tattoo.  We use lots of clip art from the great site My Cute Graphics.
  • NEW YEAR’S CROWNS As you know if you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, I love Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher’s Notebook. For free or just a few dollars (which goes right to teachers) you can get activity packs themed around just about anything you can think of.  I’ve purchased so many games, worksheets, and matching sets from there.  BIG timesaver. If you haven’t already subscribed to their weekly newsletters, I highly recommend it. I guessed there’d be some units about New Year’s and I found a great one for under $3 that had coloring and activity sheets and a wonderful crown template.

nye crown

Great, right?  So we set up our craft tables and had the kids color and cut out crowns.  We explained resolutions to some of the older kids but we didn’t really stress that part.  Here’s a picture of the craft wildness in action!

crafting

No one was really interested in anything other than the crafts, but we also had out some of the other activity sheets from the kit for older kids or take homes. This was lots of fun and got packed quickly.  We also had a station to make our own noisemakers (because I had forgotten to order them from Oriental Trading!) this was definitely more trouble than it was worth, so you’ll hear more about it in Lessons Learned!

  • GAMES GALORE! We decided since one of the things grown-ups do at parties is games and since who DOESN’T like games, we’d just have a station for games and Legos.  We put out all our Legos and many of our family friendly board games (memory games with only 24 cards for our younger players, Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Kerplunk!, Animal Upon Animal, etc.) and let the older kids and families game and build together.  Cheap and effective, can’t go wrong.We put this up along side our newest favorite area – BABY TOWN!  After we realized our events didn’t have anything for the youngest patrons – and our youngest patrons were DEFINITELY expecting to be included since we bill it as for all ages and families and we have great family attendance at everything we do, whoo-hoo – we set up an area filled with blocks, stacker toys, shaker eggs, and sensory balls.  This has been such a hit.  The parents love having a place for the littles to play while their siblings might be out making crafts and the parents with just the younger kids like having an area to explore.  I MEAN JUST LOOK AT IT.

baby1

  • PHOTOBOOTH! We turned our giant bulletin board into a photobooth.  We made some props and bought some giant frames from Oriental Trading. Need I say more?

staff

My fantastic-unbelievable-amazing-beyond-words staff – without whom of the magic is possible!  (that’s me, Melissa, Stephanie, Jared, and Chelsie.)

aw!

My friend Jackie’s adorbs little girl.  I KNOW Y’ALL, I KNOW.

So, as you can see – relatively simple stations. From there – it was on to the countdown!

We gathered everyone in our giant rotunda (which you have seen in many pictures before and which has its negatives and positives for programs – but for this program it was a BIG WIN.) and had a countdown projected on the big wall. We talked about the new year and new chances and how we were going to be SO EXCITED and have SO MUCH FUN and we REALLY wanted all the grown-ups to help with the countdown.

And, above us, I knew that we had planned a balloon drop.  I realized with our PACKED crowd this could turn into real chaos. So I knew we’d need grown-up help. At that point, I made it as clear as possible that ALL grown-ups should look out for ALL kids.  That felt good (and necessary) to say. Here’s a view from above before the drop.

so many

They, of course, loved the countdown and shouting and then the balloon drop.  We went straight into music after that, playing Shake it Off which they liked OK which we then cut off for Happy which, as always, they went wild for and really started dancing and throwing the balloons and some of the larger confetti around during. (see those 2″ circles on the ground?  Much easier to clean up than REAL confetti!)

We thanked everyone for coming, wished them a happy 2015 (at 12:01 on December 31.  Yes, it felt a little weird) and invited them to stay to take pictures, color, and play games.

In all, it was a whole lotta bang for not so much effort or money. (we spent a lot on confetti and glitter wands that we ended up not being able to use since there were SO MANY people there but we’ll save ’em!) We had over 100 people attend and there were lots of families, including many we’d never seen before (the most exciting library  demographic – new peeps!) and even more grandparents – many who seemed to be visiting/have visiting grandkids and were looking for something to do.  It was a great confluence of patrons looking for an event and us having just the right thing at the right time.  But you know we had lessons learned …

Lessons Learned

  • Noisemakers: we tried to make a project we found on Instructables about making easy noisemakers using only a piece of paper and a straw but let me make it clear that “easy” doesn’t mean the same thing when it comes to 5 year olds.  Just so you know.  Getting them together and the straws cut the right way was hard enough but trying to show the kids how to blow on them?  Impossible.  (and spitty!) So – either buy some cheap noisemakers, find another kind of make, or just skip them.  The kids didn’t seem to need them, the energy was enough.
  • Crowns: best part of the crowns?  We used some of our left over piles of foam to make the bands.  A MILLION TIMES EASIER TO ADJUST THAN PAPER and way more solid too, so they didn’t just rip right off or slide right off.  Meaning the kids actually didn’t mind wearing them, which was extra fun. We cut strips of differing lengths ahead of time and then did a quick measurement (or let parents) on each kid and then did a few staples and they fit right on.
  • Photobooth: We didn’t have the kind of participation at the photobooth that we were looking for, though several families had a great time taking tons of pics there.  We realized afterwards it just wasn’t clear enough about what the area was for.  So, next event we want to work on more signage about TAKE PHOTOS HERE! SAY CHEESE!  SHARE YOUR PICS! POSE WITH PROPS! along with a few examples of what poses can look like.
  • Timing: It was ABSOLUTELY necessary to have the countdown at exactly noon, but we were glad we did. It gave specific focus to the rest of the event and made sure everyone was on the same page (families playing games, shepherding kids through the scavenger hunt, etc.) I definitely would have liked to see more people stay around afterwards to play games and just hang out, but there were plenty of attendees who, no matter what we did, were clearing out for naps and lunches.  If anything, we’d maybe start a half hour earlier to give some more time for the stations but I don’t think ANYONE felt that rushed. That was the bonus of more simple and self-explanatory crafts!
  • Balloon Drop: The kids LOVE getting things dropped on them from above.  If you’re looking to have one of these events, this is the part I think you should strive to recreate the most.  This was just the apex of delight and really made it feel like a party. We do have a good – but not perfect – space for it, so that helped.  We put buttons in the balloons (!) to help make them drop but that was another little detail.  Maybe it’s time to invest in a balloon net.
  • All ages: This was obviously an event that worked best for 0-9.  Even the 10-12s were a little edgy (well, they liked the countdown and they liked the Legos!) and teens – forget it.  I wish we could have some teen component but the library closes at 5:00 on New Year’s Eve so … I mean, I’m not sure what we could fit in for our older crowd (do teens want to have a wild NYE at 4:45 PM?) but it’s on my mind for next year!

That was Noon Year’s Eve 2015 – an unqualified success. It was cheap to put together with a hugely positive response and tons of attendees. We will do it again?  In a heartbeat.  Should you do it?  Heck yes!

I know tons of libraries had their own Noon Year’s parties this year, hooray. I’d love to hear all about what you did: what worked and what didn’t, what lessons you learned, what you’d advise other libraries to do or avoid, and what you can’t wait to do again! Leave a comment here all about it or talk with me on Twitter.

 

 

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