20 New Year’s Eve Games to Ring In 2021
This past year has been a rough one, friends. The good news is that, collectively, we have a damn good reason to rejoice in its departure. And if you’re searching for ways to celebrate with those close to you, look no further: Our round up of New Year’s Eve games is chock full of levity, the likes of which will appeal to partygoers both young and old.
1. Printable New Year’s Eve Word Search
This free and family-friendly printable game features a tame assortment of festive words, so even young kids can get in on the search. This ready-made activity will be a hit with adults, too, once the mellowing effect of that last glass of bubbly kick in and the party winds down.
2. Tick Tock Tic Tac
This minute-to-win-it game requires nothing more than a couple of handfuls of the popular breath mints, some paper plates and a pair of tweezers. Here’s how it works: Guests compete to move as many Tic Tacs from one plate to another in 60 seconds using only the tweezers. The play proceeds one at a time, and whoever transfers the most mints wins the prize (of knowing they have superior fine motor skills).
3. New Year’s Resolution Telephone Pictionary
Sharing New Year’s resolutions at a party can feel like an exercise in tedium—unless, that is, you inject some humor into the ritual with this part telephone, part Pictionary game. Resolutions are written down, rendered as art by another guest, guessed by a third and finally returned to their rightful owner...as a ludicrous distortion of the original that’s sure to make everyone laugh.
4. New Year’s Eve Mad Libs
Turns out this road trip staple is a surefire form of entertainment as a party game, too. Guests take turns filling in the blank to complete a story so absurd and hilarious that you’re going to want to put your drink down when it comes time to read it aloud. Bonus: This game can easily be adapted to include adult humor or kept clean for family-friendly fun depending on the crowd.
5. The Countdown Knock Down
Spruce up a college party staple—the good old red Solo cup—with some printable clock faces and arrange each cup in its proper giant clock position and you have the makings of an incredibly absurd minute-to-win-it game that’s guaranteed to be a hit with kids and merry adult guests alike. Spoiler alert: The knock down component here has nothing to do with bowling, hence the hilarity. (Think: pantyhose with a tennis ball worn on the head.)
6. New Year’s Eve Balloon Countdown
Give every partygoer something to look forward to whenever the big hand reaches 12 with this countdown spectacle. The game involves a little prep work—namely, coming up with a certain number of game ideas to get from the start of the party to the stroke of midnight—but the brainstorming is well worth it (and if you borrow from the rest of this list, your work is practically done). The end result? A new balloon popped at every hour, with a suggestion for novel fun hidden inside.
7. Drop Around the Clock
Here’s another minute-to-win-it with a holiday twist that promises to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. One-by-one contestants attempt to transfer small candies to a paper plate clockface using only a straw (and the power of suction, of course). Inexpensive and easy to set up—this one serves up a pretty sweet and entertaining challenge. Note: Just make sure the candies you choose are not so small they can actually be sucked up into the straw at any angle.
8. Glow-in-the-Dark Pong Toss
This glow-in-the-dark spin on the classic college drinking game will inspire oohs and aahs from guests of all ages, while making the feat of hand-eye-coordination considerably harder. You can keep it kid-friendly by filling the cups with non-alcoholic beverages, or simply set up two different stations (one with bubbly, the other fruit punch) so guests of all ages can get in on the play.
9. Two Resolutions and a Lie
Find out how well your friends really know you with a rousing round of two resolutions and a lie (i.e., two truths and a lie with a New Year’s Eve touch). Gather the guests around and go in a circle: Each partygoer will get a chance to make three statements—two of which are actual resolutions and one a convincing imposter—while the remaining guests try to guess the lie. This game is fun at any point in the evening, but it may prove especially useful as an icebreaker when things haven’t quite kicked off yet.
10. New Year Highlights Game
On the face of it, this game sounds incredibly earnest (“biggest lesson learned this year”) but it all comes down to the way you play. Open-ended prompts allow room for interpretation, so players can introduce just the right degree of irony and humor to suit the mood of the soiree. Hint: The more, the better.
11. New Year’s Eve Bingo
As far as party games go, it doesn’t get much tamer than Bingo. That said, time tends to slow to a crawl as midnight draws closer, so this one is a helpful way to keep everyone’s eyes off the clock in the homestretch. But really, this one is just an easy way to entertain little kids while the grown-ups shmooze.
12. Hot Cocoa Marshmallow Toss
Like any pong toss, but with a seasonally-appropriate, warm beverage. Spike the hot cocoa for the grown-up crowd, if you wish, or just keep it a dry game. Either way, the reward is a drinkable dessert—and a warm n’ cozy way to ring in the New Year.
13. New Year’s Disco Ball Surprise
Why gather around the tube to watch the ball drop when you can make the magic happen at your own New Year’s bash? Craft this super cool and shiny disco ball and fill it with treats for a festive party activity that’s sure to wake everyone up in time for the stroke of midnight.
14. New Year’s Eve Scavenger Hunt
Try this one out at the beginning of the party as a getting-to-know-you activity for a diverse guest list. Hide various items around the designated party space and pair guests up in teams to search for said items. The scavenger hunt objective is pretty straightforward, but it ensures partygoers from different parts of your life start feeling comfortable with each other right off the bat.
15. New Year’s Countdown Bags
These countdown bags work in much the same way as the balloon-popping countdown game mentioned above, except that both the prompt and the activity materials await unwrapping. Pluck a new bag and open it up with every passing hour for another novel way to keep partygoers entertained and engaged with one another.
16. New Year’s Eve Poker Match
Truth: A good poker tournament can last several hours (i.e., the length of your party). But even if the skill-level is generally low among your attendees, this game of strategy is a ton of fun and a great way to kill some time before the clock strikes 12.
17. DIY Instagram Matching Game
Turn the real-life memories of you and your friends into a matching game that celebrates the highs and lows of the last year. (OK, let’s be honest—it’s Instagram, so only the highs.) This is an entertaining and refreshingly personal party game, and since so many of us are addicted to our Insta-feed, it will likely be an instant hit.
18. New Year’s Eve Champagne Relay Race
Pop the champagne a little early for this fast-paced festive game in which players compete in teams to fill a champagne flute with the good stuff as quickly as possible using only a teaspoon—just be sure to use some cheap bubbles for this one since all the agitation might result in loss of fizz by the time contestants are ready to drink the prize.
19. New Year’s Eve Dice Game
This family-friendly dice game is a great way to celebrate happy memories from the outgoing year (because yes, 2020 was rough but surely there were some good things that happened this year). It comes with a free printable and the play includes candy—so the kids in your life will be on board with the trip down memory lane, too.
20. End of the Year Charades Game
It’s hard to go wrong with charades, especially when it involves acting out the highs and lows of such an eventful year. Partygoers will laugh, cry and laugh-cry together while playing this straightforward, but endlessly entertaining classic.