By Anna Berend

The ball might drop a little earlier at these celebrations, but who’s counting? Well, that is to say, other than the kids counting down to “midnight” at these pint-sized parties that end well before midnight. And there’s nothing wrong with them ending early. This early to bed schedule allows mom and dad to pour a little bubbly and sit alone in the quiet house while contemplating the old year about to close the curtain and the new year getting ready to crack open the door. Now that’s worth celebrating.

At these parties, there’s fun and activities for the whole family. Whether hiking through snowy, candlelit trails, shaking your tail feathers or running and playing at an indoor play area your little ones are sure to have a blast on the last day of the year. If you’re still looking for a party atmosphere for your family, here are a few ideas.

89210642 A Guide To NYE Events, Activities For Families

(credit: BananaStock)

Candlelight & Ice New Year’s Event

Dec. 31, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Free to Friends of Wood Lake members; $4 per person for non-members

Walk through the dark, quiet snowy woods on the groomed trails following hundreds of candles that wind through the marsh. Stop inside the nature center to warm up with hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows next to the crackling fire. This is always a terrific event for the whole family.

sparklerama A Guide To NYE Events, Activities For Families

(credit: Minnesota Children's Museum)


Dec. 31, 6 p.m.– 9 p.m.
Cost: $14, $10 for members, pre-register and save $2 on each ticket

There are lots of activities here. The galleries will be open for playing, experimenting and learning, but there’s more. On this special night, there’s also live music and dancing and other entertainment, as well. Free parking and snacks are included in admission price.

Edinborough Park

(credit: CBS)

New Year’s Eve Party

Dec. 31, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Cost: $6 per child; adults are free with paying child

This family centered event offers all kinds of indoor fun. Besides the regular activities of climbing and playing in Adventure Peak and scampering and scooting around in the gym, the pool will be open and there will be a kid-friendly DJ playing lots of dance tunes and games. Light refreshments are provided. And, of course, the ball drops on this party at 8 p.m.

101375918 A Guide To NYE Events, Activities For Families

(credit: Thinkstock)

Dakota County Parks New Year’s Eve Party

Dec. 31, 5 p.m.– 8 p.m.
Cost: 5 and under Free; $10 at the door; $8 if pre-registered by Dec. 29

Come have some outdoor, winter fun at the Lebanon Hills Regional Park. There will be ice-skating, hiking, snowshoeing and sledding. Be sure to bring your own ice skate and sleds. Snowshoes will be available for renting. The ball drops at 7:59 at this party.

winterskate A Guide To NYE Events, Activities For Families

(credit: Wells Fargo Winterskate/Capital City Partnership)

Wells Fargo WinterSkate

Call for hours
Cost: Free to skate; $2 skate rentals; Free rental for those with Wells Fargo credit cards or check cards

Located next to the Landmark Center, this outdoor artificially chilled ice rink has beautiful surroundings. This area in downtown St. Paul will be brimming with a festive mood on Dec. 31. The best part is it’s free. Bring your own ice skates or rent them for $2 per person. Show your Wells Fargo check card or credit card and get free rentals. Figure skating and hockey skates are available from little tyke one-size-fits-all to adult size 13. There’s a warming house with hot chocolate and snacks onsite.

99403328 A Guide To NYE Events, Activities For Families

(credit: Thinkstock)

New Year’s Eve Family Celebration 2011

Your family will not lack for something to do here. This event promises games, moonwalks, slides, an obstacle course, mini-golf, ice skating, music, bingo and more. The countdown to the New Year begins at 8:45 p.m. The website urges partygoers to register early as this event often sells out and is limited to the first 600 people registered.

Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law.You can find Anna at, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.

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