Autism Resources

Sensory Friendly New Year’s Eve Tips

BlueSprig December 30, 2021

Have you and your family decided how you will celebrate this New Year’s Eve? The thought of large crowds or loud fireworks may seem overwhelming or unappealing to those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but there are many other ways to enjoy the end-of-year holiday with your family. BlueSprig has created some tips for celebrating New Year’s Eve in a sensory friendly way with your loved ones.

Below are a few tips if you plan on staying in this year:

  • Celebrate 12pm, not 12am: Depending on the age of your child or loved one with ASD, consider celebrating at noon rather than midnight. This way, you can celebrate New Year’s Eve in a sensory friendly, inclusive way and your loved one will not have to change their bedtime routine.
  • Watch pre-recorded fireworks: Instead of watching fireworks outside, which can be loud and overstimulating, opt for a video of fireworks instead! We recommend watching the video before and finding one that will be a good fit to not heighten anxiety. There are several remarkable fireworks videos on YouTube to help you ring in the new year. You can probably find a fireworks show from your town as well!
  • Create your own ball drop: Make your own balloon or confetti version of the ball drop to ring in the new year. Get a drawstring trash bag and fill it with cut-up tissue paper or confetti and balloons. This activity provides a fun way to celebrate while also steering clear from large crowds or gatherings and also invites children to help in creating the fun.
  • Family Movie Night: If you want to skip the traditional festivities altogether and avoid loud outside noise from fireworks and other distractions, consider having a calm night with the family by making it a movie night. Grab some hot cocoa, popcorn or snack of choice, a weighted blanket, and zone in on your family’s favorite movie!
  • Set expectations for the midnight fireworks: When it is bedtime for your child or loved one, talk with them and let them know that loud noises may occur due to fireworks to set expectations and ensure safety. To help with this, try using a noise-canceling machine in their bedroom or use noise-canceling headphones.

If you and your family decide to go out and enjoy the festivities this year, below are a few helpful tips:

  • Talk with your child or loved one and prepare them for the environment that you all will be in. This will help them to get a sense of what to expect.
  • In the event of sensory overload, make sure to identify a quiet space. This could be going to the car, going inside the house, or somewhere near that will help your loved one feel calm. When out in large gatherings, make sure to have an exit strategy in place in case of a sensory overload or heightened anxiety.
  • You may want to bring noise-canceling headphones with you so that the fireworks or noise from large crowds are not overwhelming to your loved one.

There are many virtual celebrations that are happening this year that you and your family can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Here is a list of fun and inclusive New Year’s Eve virtual events to help you celebrate 2022!

If you are looking for a few creative crafts to bring in the New Year, check out our Pinterest board that has several suggestions ranging from coloring pages to cooking crafts to festive decorations!

By using these tips and preparing your loved one with ASD to know what to expect this upcoming New Year’s Eve, you can help lessen their anxiety and make this a fun, sensory friendly, inclusive celebration for all. We hope you and your family have a happy New Year!