Expat Life

New Years Eve in Ireland

December 30, 2015

After over a decade living in Ireland I have concluded that my least faveorite holiday to celebrate here is NYE.  In my early twenties back home NYE was usually marked by a killer house party often in some rented house at the beach or in the mountains.

OK so I’m at the point of my life where NYE house parties would have to include a noise threshold to not wake the little people…maybe I can’t blame that on Ireland.

But I have to admit, after years of thinking it was overrated it turns out I miss the ‘ball drop’ back home.

I had high expectations for my first NYE in Cork. I found myself in an overcrowded (but favourite) pub ready for a new way to ring in the new year.  Somewhere in the vicinity of midnight free bubbly was passed around and then suddendly Auld Lang Syne was being played by the house band and it was 3 minutes past midnight!  No countdown! No timely toast or kiss, a whole lot of mass texting from everyone and NO BALL.

Fast forward ten years and a few kids later and I like NYE in Cork even less.  If there is little sense of occasion in Cork for adults on NYE there  seems to be far less for kids and families.

The lack of family friendly NYE events is a missed opportunity in my beloved city.

I’m used to day long First Night festivities back home pretty much all of which are geared towards families.  Now it seems if we want any sense of family festival you need to head to Dublin.

So we decided to take matters into our own hands.  Through the help of Pinterest I came across the idea for Countdown Bags  from Amy at The Idea Room…and our NYE tradition was born.

Now the Idea Room activities and craftiness were great but I was working pretty last minute and wanting to create a holiday atmosphere for a toddler.  So we created ‘Countdown Envelopes’ (with no crafting involved) and started at 2:00 so we could still make bed time at 7:00!


It doesn't get LESS craftier than blank envelopes!!

It doesn’t get LESS craftier than blank envelopes!!


The past few years our activities have changed and we have started to introduce times onto the envelopes but the kids love the anticipation of seeing what’s next in each envelope.  As they grow we can add all sorts of fun “Year in Review” & “New Years Resolution” activities.

Our only rule is mandatory participation in all activities for the whole family.   We’ve kept it simple with our activities:

  • Paint our nails
  • Play dress up
    Mandatory participation for the WHOLE family!

    Mandatory participation for the WHOLE family!


  • Dance Party
  • Bake brownies
  • Order take-a-way and go get it!                                                                                                       IMG_0498
  • Indoor picnic
  • Make a gingerbread house

    Know any good roofers?

    Know any good roofers?

  • Play a board game
  • Make a fort
  • Pillow fight
  • Movie Night                                                                                                                           IMG_0501
  • It’s Midnight somewhere!!  (We always end on this one which involves watching NYE celebrations on the news or YouTube, playing Auld Lang Syne and ‘midnight’ kisses before bed).

Our tradition travelled with us last year to the US when we celebrated with the cousins, and this year the kids are pitching in their own thoughts on what activities should be included.

We’ve managed to create a pretty killer family NYE party in our Irish country home!


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  • Reply Carolyn November 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    I’ve really been enjoying your blog! (It’s interesting, all the little differences of living in Ireland vs living in NY). 🙂

    • Reply bothsidesoftheatlantic@gmail.com December 28, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      thanks Carolyn- I’m migrating my work over to ThisIrishFamily.Com so check me out there!

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