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Sensory-Friendly New Year's Eve Celebrations

New Year's Eve is a wonderful time to celebrate the closing of one chapter and the start of a brand new year. 

As we approach this festive time, it is important to consider the unique needs of all children, especially those with sensory and neurodivergent needs. When planning a New Year’s celebration, loud noises, bright lights, and crowded spaces may be overwhelming for some. 

To ensure a safe and inviting environment for all, here are some tips and suggestions for creating sensory-friendly New Year's Eve celebrations.


Choose An Inclusive Venue

When deciding where to host your NYE celebrations, consider the size and space needed and opt for a sensory-friendly location. 

Find a place that has smaller rooms or quiet areas that can be used as a retreat if activities become too chaotic or overwhelming. 

Consider the lighting and acoustics of a space, taking note that lights and sounds will act differently when a room is full of people. Keep lighting soft and ambient noises well at hand to help minimize sensory overload. 

Early Celebrations for Early Bedtimes

Have a flexible start time that allows your guests to come and go as needed. Sometimes late nights can be especially hard on those with neurodivergent tendencies, so consider ringing in the New Year at an earlier time to avoid disrupting optimal bedtimes. 

There is no need to wait until midnight for a celebratory toast, so pick a time that is more convenient. That way everyone can feel free to stay for as long as they are comfortable. 

Just be sure to communicate to your guests what time certain events will be happening, then leave it up to them to choose how best to participate. 

Provide Information In Advance

Communication is always important, and that is especially true for families with neurodivergent children. 

Share as many details with family members and caregivers as you can to allow them to plan ahead. They may also use this information to help explain to their kiddos exactly what to expect. 

Provide a schedule of activities so they can foresee any potential triggers and plan accordingly. Transparency fosters inclusivity and will allow families to make informed decisions.

Create a Sensory Friendly Environment

Every host wants their guests to feel comfortable, so create an environment that will allow everyone to feel welcome. 

Adjust the lights and sounds so they are not overly stimulating. If there are sensitivities to smells, consider what aromas are present. 

Look around the space and make sure there are plenty of comfortable seating options that are easily accessible. If possible, be sure to have a quiet space set aside to let your guests take a break from the festivities if they start to feel overwhelmed.  

Offer Noise Reduction Options

Typically, celebratory occasions have a tendency to become loud. If you know there will be moments of intense sound, consider providing noise canceling headphones or earplugs for guests that are sensitive to the noise. 

By communicating the events ahead of time, your guest may choose to bring their own items, if they intend on participating. 

Talk with neighbors or businesses nearby to try and minimize unexpected or sudden loud noises, such as fireworks. 

Offer safe, quiet alternatives away from any activities that might become overwhelming, such as playing a movie in another room. 

Plan Engaging Activities

Not all activities have to be loud or extravagant. Set up little areas for arts and crafts that are still within the area of entertainment. 

Inclusive games such as ring toss, freeze dance, matching games, or even tic tac toe using fun seasonal candy can be a great way to get everyone playing together. 

Encourage participation at each individual’s comfort level by letting everyone play or just observe the activities. 

Communicate with Event Staff and Volunteers

Just as communication with guests is important, making sure any staff or volunteers are prepared is just as important. Equip them with knowledge beforehand so they can be ready. 

Provide information to help identify signs of distress so everyone can be on the same page and available to provide support. 

If there are any dietary or special needs, be sure to communicate it clearly ahead of time to avoid confusion. For food tables, make sure everything is clearly and properly labeled and make sure there is somebody available to answer any questions.


Local Events Around Denver

Looking for some Sensory Friendly Activities in the Denver area? Here are some great options!

In Conclusion

As we get ready to ring in a new year, let’s be sure that our celebrations are inclusive and accommodating for every child. 

These tips and suggestions are a great way to create an environment that is welcoming for everyone, regardless of their sensory or neurodivergent needs. 

By working together, we can ensure that everyone can participate in the joyous festivities of New Year’s Eve. 

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