Traveling Back in Time – A New Year’s Eve with Kids

new year's beverage napkin New Year’s Eve celebrations are all about looking forward to the future. This year, why not start a new family tradition and spend the night at home by planning a new year’s eve with kids. To make it one they’ll always remember, leap into  a really new year: Welcome in 1913!

Try out a different celebration idea by traveling back in time. A century ago is an unexplored territory for kids: Almost everything they know (and you, too) wasn’t yet here, yet. Setting this year’s party in another year – another century! – gives you a chance to combine dress-up, imagination and a touch of historical recreation with family fun. With just a few party supplies and some imagination, and you’ll have an inexpensive, at-home special New Year’s Eve party.

Costumes and Decorations

man in tuxedoDress-up is always fun, and it’s important to get into the mood for this party. Dad needs to find a three-piece suit or formal wear and Mom should dress in a full skirt with a white blouse. Girls should wear long skirts, too, but boys have to wear short pants (shorts with knee-length socks will do). No sneakers!

Party supplies won’t be a problem. Top hats were still seen around town in 1912, so some decorated hats and noisemakers will be in character. Getting the “right” date on decorations might be a challenge, but fortunately party supply sources such as Celebrate Express and Shindigz offer custom-made banners for very reasonable prices. When ordering a “Happy New Year 1913!” imprint, though, make sure they get the century correct!

Food and Treats

Cakes are always welcome, and you can decorate the “right” date yourself with icing piping or use a set of number candles from your favorite store for party supplies. Cookies were a new invention (who knew?), but fortunately one of the first recipes for them was cinnamon sugar cookies. You probably know them as “snickerdoodles.” (For complete instructions on how to make the 1912 version, go to That new-fangled Coca Cola and other carbonated beverages were on the market, but punch and hot chocolate were more likely served at most New Year’s Eve parties in 1912.

Games and Entertainment

Almost every board game you know, including Monopoly, Clue and even Scrabble hadn’t been invented, yet, but chutes and ladders was very popular and makes for a great family game. A checkers-like game that was extremely popular in 1912 was called Salta. We don’t know why it went out of fashion, because it’s a lot of fun! You can learn the rules and how to use a checkers/chess board to play it at Of course, card games like “Old Maid” are absolutely in the period, even if the name is now considered politically incorrect.

Motion pictures existed in 1912, so even if you’re using a “futuristic” television you can watch period movies. Even though they were made just after the 1912 date, movies by Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy are timeless fun. Or, you can indulge in some time-travel movies, such as Time Bandits and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (we like the 1949 version with Bing Crosby the best).

Try to stay in character. Drop the occasional “news” item. The Boy Scouts of America had only been established in 1910, and the Girl Scouts just “this” year. The Indianapolis 500 race had just been held a few months “ago” and New Mexico and Arizona were new states. There was the tragedy of the Titanic sinking, of course, and states were still voting on the new amendment to allow women to vote. If you need a quick brush-up on current events in 1912, you can always go to and type “1912” into the search field.

You can even pretend confusion about some of the terms that your kids are sure to drop. “Texting”? What is that? A telephone that you can carry around with you? Where are the wires? See how far you can get them to explain even the most basic things that they take for granted.

It doesn’t have to be one long school lesson, but a Happy New Year 1913 party might just make the kids appreciate how much has changed – and how much things will continue to change, in their lifetimes.

Make this New Year’s Eve party one for the history books!