New Years Tree

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!  Yes, I know it’s not 2012, but today I’m re-sharing my family’s favorite New Year’s tradition, our New Year’s tree!  My kids look forward to this and eagerly await the morning they wake up to find our Christmas tree transformed.  Check out all of the details below and consider starting a fun new tradition with your own family!

***2016 UPDATE*** We love this tradition so much that we actually decided to create a fun little printable pack all about it! It includes 40 pages of exclusive, never-before-seen New Year’s Eve recipes, beautiful printables for your very own NYE tree, photo booth printables, and tons of great party game ideas! Get it here for $7.99!

Original post:

It’s no secret that I’m a holiday-junkie.  I love fun family traditions and my little family has been creating a lot of our own.  But one holiday that we haven’t really done much for is New Years.  Partially because my kids are so young that a holiday centered around staying up late hasn’t been of much interest and my husband and I have been total party poopers the past few years and usually end up watching the ball drop on tv and then hitting the sack.  The other reason is that I go a little crazy for Christmas so I’m usually still winding down from that by December 31!  But every year I read my sister-in-law Emily’s family blog and see her fun New Years tradition.  She fills balloons with money and “fortunes” or New Years wishes, ties them to the un-decorated Christmas tree and their family celebrates by popping them at midnight.  Or “midnight” (whenever you decide that happens 😉  Each year I think, “ooh, I’m totally going to remember that for next year.”  And then I do remember.  About a week after New Years when she blogs about it again.  Doh!  So this year I actually remembered to ask her about it, and as I was decorating my own New Years tree I thought some of you guys might like the idea too so we’re bloggin’.  Because that’s what I do 🙂

I usually leave my Christmas tree up until after the New Year anyway, so I love the idea of taking off all of the ornaments and giving it a quick makeover.  I did mine after my kids were in bed last night and they were SO shocked and excited when they woke up and saw our tree this morning.  They freaked out even more when they realized there was money inside the balloons.  I ran to the party supply store yesterday and spent about $10 on cheap New Years party stuff.

We had to have some noise makers (even though I have three sons and they were pretty much born with built-in noise makers)

And big funny glasses are a must

I know my boys will LOVE these crackers; you can get them pretty cheap at party stores

and anything else you want.

I already had a bunch of balloons, from making another one of these

My sister-in-law slips little wishes for the New Year in her balloons.  I started thinking of some and then while I totally had writer’s block after only a few (I know, I’m pathetic) I spotted a little book of jokes my boys got for Christmas.  I thought those would be fun, so I put silly one-liners in all the balloons (What do you get when you cross a kangaroo and an African Elephant?  Big holes all over Australia!)  Just cut them into little strips and roll them up and slip them right in there.  If you want to print off the silly ones I used, click here.  2012 Edit:  This year I asked YOU all for jokes and you came through like champs!  I literally sat up forever reading every single one of them and laughing my eyeballs out.  Head over to our facebook page and read through the post, it’s hilarious.  (What kind of cheese is not yours?  Nacho cheese!)  Someone else just commented that it would be fun to insert favorite family memories from the past year.  I thought that was a great idea too.

I also put some coins in the balloons.  Guess where I got the coins?  My kids’ piggy banks.  Don’t judge.  My kids are little and their banks are totally loaded.  They get 99% of their haul from 3 places:

1.  Around the house (and therefore belonging originally to me)
2.  From the change dish in my car (again, mine)
3.  From a straight-up raid of my wallet. (Um, yes, for sure mine.)

Therefore it’s not bad parenting, it’s actually more like the circle of life.

I even put $1 bills in a few of them, which my kids will freak out about.  Because if there’s anything they’ve learned in their young years, it’s that they should be collecting the “green money”.

I am actually very surprised at how much the opening of a latex balloon can fit.  You could actually fit little trinkets in there, but after Christmas the last thing my kids need is more trinkets.  So we’ll settle for jokes and money!  Confetti sounds like a natural choice too- but only if you enjoy vacuuming up confetti for the next 5 years of your life.  I hate confetti.

Just tie the balloons to the tree and add in any other decorations you want.  If your tree is real, and really dried out I suppose you’ll have to be careful with the prickly needles and your balloons!  This one is artificial (total embarrassment from this Seattle girl!) so it’s no problem.  If you’re worried about your balloons popping, I recommend under-filling them with air so they’re nice and squishy.  That should help.

(If you still have lights on your tree, either leave them off, or just make sure not to put balloons or paper stuff right on the lights; especially the old-school kind that get pretty hot.  You should also leave any sort of popper that actually has some little firework-y thing in them off.)  The bonus is that you’re really not making more work for yourself since everyone will grab stuff off the tree on New Years Eve, therefore cleaning it all up for you!

When you’re ready to count down to the new year, grab the party off the tree and pop the balloons at midnight!  (Or 7pm if your kids can’t tell time yet, like mine 🙂  Read jokes or fortunes, collect the booty, and call it a year.

Here’s our tree that will be ringing in 2013!


If you like this idea- Pin it and help spread the word before New Years!


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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. What a fabulous idea!

    We usually stay in, eat take-out, and watch tv : )

  2. What a fun idea! We are thinking of having a party for New Year’s Eve with several families. I think I’m going to turn on a Youtube video of the ball dropping another year at around 9:30. If everyone has a balloon to pop and then gets some money, maybe they won’t notice when the ball drops and 2011 lights up instead of 2012.

  3. One of our traditions has been to run and open the back door and the front door.. and then bang pot and pans or lids through the house to get rid of the Past Year, and welcome the New Year.. has worked for us.. lol. always looking for a pinch of good luck..

  4. Growing up my family always celebrated with certain friends – we would play games (adults and kids alike) until midnight, then make a lot of noise including shooting off their cannon (yes, a real cannon!) and then we’d sit down to a full meal.

    These days we smash our gingerbread “house” at midnight. This year it’s an Atlas rocket.

    I love your idea with the balloons, but I’m not sure I’ll be ready to part with my Christmas tree by New Year’s! (Yes, it’s fake – we’ve always traveled over Christmas, so a real one wouldn’t be safe.)

    A word of caution though – be real careful with the un-rolly, blowy, party thingies (neither my husband nor I can think what you call them at the moment). They can do real damage if someone gets it in the eye – I know this from personal experience! No blowing at people’s faces!

  5. Brilliant! Too bad I saw this after I tore my tree apart in a post Christmas frenzy and then told my kids the trash truck was coming for it. Who knew that would make them sad? They LOVE trash trucks. I’m totally tucking this away for next year!

  6. Really like this idea of putting things “in” the balloons! We usually spend the night at our church building, (like a lock-in) with the big-screen TV. Play made-up games or board games maybe we got for Christmas. A tradition the kids love… is that I buy (or get from closet) each person a large square of bubble wrapping, at mid-night they go wild stomp, stomp, stomping it as a noise maker! (can be slippery though…be careful)!!!!! Happy New Year everybody!

  7. Love this idea! I may even take it a step further and have a birthday tree for my birthday party the following week!

  8. My mom always took the tree down the day after Christmas and it always made me sad. You know the song I cry the day that I take the tree down from the Forgotten Carols, it should have been about me. So my families New Year’s Eve tradition is to sleep under the Christmas tree before we take it down. My husband and I haul out our mattress, and our four kids find a spot on the floor or the couch. It’s a blast. P.S. My wonderful husband got me your cookbook for Christmas. I am so excited to try so many of the recipes!

  9. I think I might just have to haul my (live but really dead) tree out to the desert and decorated it with balloons and fun New Years stuff. We can put a few lights on it (I have some that run on batteries). Sounds like a great idea! We can have our own little countdown too and torch the tree at midnight! Thanks for sharing.

  10. I love, love, love this idea! I am a firm believer of keeping the Christmas tree up until New Year’s Day and I love that this ties in the New Year’s celebrations/decorations. I think New Year’s party hat would be a cute tree topper!

  11. A few years ago we invited some of our kids’ friends over for a little noon celebration. They made 2010 pipe cleaner glasses and toilet paper kazoos and we had some cupcakes to eat and counted down to 12 (noon!) They loved it and then we could have our own little countdown later with our friends while we played games and the kids slept.

  12. My mom always made us eat a black eyed pea at midnight so it was the first thing consumed in the new year and would give us good luck for the year to come!

  13. We always get dressed up and go out for a late lunch, then to New Years Eve Mass at 4:30pm. After that we go home, put on our lounge clothes, play games and watch movies. For supper we have appetizers — Spinach dip, cocktail sausages in spicy sauce, Swedish meatballs, veggies & dip and whatever else we felt like making the day before. We watch the broadcast of the ball drop and midnight, celebrate with sparkling grape juice and an assortment of homemade desserts. I think we may add your idea to our New Years Day traditions!

  14. I LOVE this idea! Super fun! I wish I had thought of that when my kids were little. Hopefully our kids will do this for our grandkids!

    One of our traditions for New Year’s was to go to Costco and let each person pick out something ‘fun’ to eat that night, then to play games as a family.

  15. My husband and sons do a movie marathon – right now they watch all the Chronicles of Narnia movies. We eat popcorn and other snacks and then watch the ball drop on TV. The boys all “camp” in the basement for the rest of the night. We are starting a new tradition of homemade pizza for supper on New Years Eve.

  16. I like the idea about the balloons, but I’m not sure we would put them on our tree. We don’t remove the Christmas decorations until Epiphany, which is January 8th – the 12th day of Christmas. But we also don’t put our decorations out until the third week of Advent, so they haven’t been up all that long. It would be fun to have the balloons anyway – maybe fill the floor with them?

    1. Or hanging them like a garland somewhere would work too. Just use curling ribbon or clothespins to hang them up. (I think I’d actually prefer my wild kids pulling balloons off a garland rather than the tree…)

      1. Yep, I was just going to say that! Hang them with clothes pins on a cute garland!

  17. I LOVE this idea!! SO cute!! I would love to do this! Maybe next year since my baby will be a toddler 🙂

  18. Every year on New Years Eve right before midnight everyone in my family holds a dollar. It’s supposed to represent wealth for the year.

  19. Totally laughing about the money circle of life, ’cause my kids are the same way – always finding change around the house and car that belongs to me, then convincing me they have their own money to spend on treats from the cashier line at Target! Fun tree idea. 🙂

  20. My kids are still really small (1 and 3) so we really haven’t done anything for New Years except pray that the noise that everyone else is making doesn’t wake them up :). What a fun idea though…we took our tree down prematurely this year but I will keep it in mind for next year. We pinned it for you! You guys come up with the best ideas.

  21. We go bowling on New Year’s Day. It has been a family tradition since my great-great Grandpa’s family. If it falls on a Sunday, we will do it the Monday after. We might do it on Saturday instead this year because of the visitors we’ll have.

  22. Why would you be embarrassed about that gorgeous tree?? I love it! Thanks for the ideas, too. Totally going to bring these to our friends’ house, where we’re celebrating. 😀

    1. haha, not embarrassed- but all of my Washington friends mock me because almost everyone has real trees there where I grew up! I swore I’d never go artificial but my husband turned me to the dark side 😉

      1. I’m also from WA state! 🙂 The way I see it, having an artificial tree is good for the environment, because you don’t have to kill a tree and use the gas to go get it! 😉 Besides, an artificial is the ONLY way my hubby agreed to ever have one…also because it was free. LOL

      2. I grew up in Seattle too and I feel like a loser for my fake tree. But our house is so small, a skinny artificial one is the only option we have. And I don’t know if I could go back. Pre-lit trees are pretty sweet. Your New Year’s tree was darling! A great idea!

      3. Nothing wrong with an artificial tree! I’m sitting here enjoying mine in lovely Washington right now. No worries about it drying out before I’m ready to take it down or the mess it leaves behind. We do a real one every few years or so…

  23. We get adjoining hotel rooms every New Years Eve with our family. We pack in tons of food, go swimming, play games and watch movies. Then we pack up and leave the mess for someone else to clean up!!

  24. We play games all night with the kids, making ourselves sick on junk food. At midnight we go outside to watch my husband light off fireworks, shoot several rounds from his gun and torch the Christmas tree. Sounds a bit redneck-ish, I know. But it sure is fun!

  25. What a CUTE idea! I usually take down the tree after New Year’s Day, but I could get a jump on it by taking off the ornaments now and replacing with these for a few days 🙂 We usually stay up, “watch the ball drop on TV, drink a toast (sparkling juice for the kids and “the real stuff” for us adults), then shoot off fireworks! (we totally live out in the country – a few of our “close” neighbors have followed in our footsteps with the fireworks) BTW, just HOW do you keep the balloons from popping on the Christmas tree needles?

  26. Love it! One year, my mother who always loved Christmas trees and hated putting them away, was going through chemo. She left her little table top tree up most of the year and for every holiday it was decorated. Made that long year go a little better.

  27. This is the coolest thing ever! I love it when you come up with the idea (or steal it) and then we get to copy it and look totally awesome to those around us. Looking forward to that appetizer post on Thursday (I’m hosting New Year’s Eve at my house this year).

  28. We finally found a great new years tradition that our young kids love!!. We go to a local hotel
    on new years eve–since there are a lot of us we get a suite with a kitchenette. We have fondue for dinner and chocolate fondue for dessert. We play games, usually do a simple
    Craft and write our Christmas thank you notes. We watch the ball
    drop on tv and have an apple cider toast at midnight. We go swimming and partake generously of the free breakfast. The we usually do something fun like so sledding or to a movie on new years day. It’s so fun! Secretly I kinda like it better than Christmas. It’s really low key.