New Year’s Eve. It seems like such a perfect opportunity to go out on the town. The only problem? Everyone else has the same idea.
So, thanks to the law of supply and demand, most bars and clubs charge a premium to count down the last minutes of the year within their walls. When you add it all up, cover charge + fancy dress + expensive drinks + taxi rides = one heck of an expensive night.
Add to that an inability to move (due to the throng of bodies) and long waits to get a drink, and you may discover going out isn’t worth the hype.
After several years battling the New Year’s Eve bar scene, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. This year, I’ve decided to throw my own New Year’s Eve party, which, between my friends and me, is going to save us hundreds of dollars.
Here are six steps you can take to throw the perfect New Year’s Eve party — on a budget!
1. Send Festive Evites
First things first: the guest list. You could make a plain ol’ Facebook event, but why not class it up with an evite?
2. Decorate With Handmade Crafts
There’s only one requirement for New Year’s Eve decorations — lots of sparkle — which means it’s super easy to decorate on a budget.
The best part? You can use all of your leftover Christmas decorations: keep your lights up, hang varying lengths of curled ribbons from the ceiling and cut out circles of wrapping paper to attach to the walls as giant confetti.
If you really want to get crafty, here are some shiny ideas:
- Countdown number corks from Pizzazzerie
- Tinsel drink stirrers from Bubbly in Brooklyn
- Golden-wrapped numbers from Ruffled
- Bowtie pasta garland from The Gold Jellybean
- And 51 more ideas from Buzzfeed
3. Create the Perfect Playlist
Music is absolutely essential for creating the perfect party mood. So, please, make sure you have something louder than your phone to play it with! If you don’t, ask your friends if Santa Claus brought them a bluetooth speaker.
As for the tunes themselves, there are several options. With Spotify, you can either create your own playlist or rock one of their pre-created mood mixes. On Pandora, you can listen to everything from top 40 to Frank Sinatra.
Songza is another good choice; here, the playlists are curated by experts — so you’re sure to find some good grooves for New Year’s Eve.
4. Serve Champagne Punch and Dessert
Your party isn’t going to get hopping until 8 or 9 p.m., so ask your guests to eat dinner at home. That way, you don’t have to worry about buying and preparing food — and if your couple friends want to enjoy a romantic dinner beforehand, they can.
What you do need to provide is champagne, and lots of it.
The best way to do this is by buying a bunch of cheap champagne and making punch. Not only is it delicious, but it will make the booze (and therefore, your guests) last longer. Try this orange, cranberry, and basil punch from Cook the Story, or this strawberry punch from Allrecipes.
Since you’re providing the drinks, ask your guests to each bring a dessert to share. That will keep your costs down, as well as allow everyone to sample a variety of tasty treats.
If you can’t resist making one yourself, here are a few festive ideas:
- Almost-midnight clock cookie bites from The Decorated Cookie
- Champagne cupcakes from A Little Claireification
- Lemon raspberry cheesecake bites from Shugary Sweets
- Pink champagne cake pops from Keep It Sweet Desserts
5. Hand Out Fun Favors
Favors are definitely not required, so skip these if your budget is really tight. If you have the time and money, however, favors give your party a bit of extra oomph (which can put it in the running for the best party of the year!).
Here are a few ideas you can make cheaply and easily:
- Personalized glitter champagne glasses from Something Turquoise
- Paper plate shakers from The Centsible Life
- DIY confetti poppers from weddingbells
- Decorated tic-tac boxes (for the midnight kiss!) from Infarrantly Creative
6. Plan Some Group Activities
Between the champagne, desserts and music, your party might have enough going on — but if it needs a boost of energy, try some engaging group activities.
Here are three ideas that will make your guests laugh (and bond):
- Create a photobooth. Gather silly props from around the house, paint a NYE-themed backdrop onto a sheet or big piece of paper, buy a disposable camera — and voila! Not only will you have a blast, you’ll have funny photos to remember your night.
- Print out these New Year’s Eve playing cards from Real Simple. Ask your friends to fill out the cards with their resolutions for the new year, and then guess who wrote which.
- Download the group game app Heads Up, which will provide hours of fun for just 99 cents. (You may have seen it on The Ellen Show.)
Follow these steps, and you’re sure to have the best NYE party on the block — for a fraction of what it would cost to hit the bars. We can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year!
Your Turn: What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.