In recent years, I have been staying in for New Year’s Eve. Reason being, it’s super pricey to attend big industrial parties, and often not nearly as fun as just hanging out and celebrating safely at someone's house!
Plus, with the holiday season barely passed, it seems most of us are watching our pennies by the time New Year's Eve arrives. Celebrating at home, we can get a lot more for a lot less—which also means we enjoy it a lot more!
Here are some fun, budget-friendly tips to plan a New Year's Eve group get-together at your home or a friend's.
Enjoy—and Happy New Year!
How much do we spend on NYE?
For an estimated 83% of Americans, we spend around $200 per person on New Year's Eve festivities (for more see Mint.com). In fact, despite the evening's rich reputation, just 1% of partygoers admit to spending $1,000 or more to ring in the New Year.
6 Missteps to avoid on NYE
1. Industrial planned parties
The average ticket cost per person—which at most may include a complimentary champagne toast and a festive hat or noisemaker—is $75. If you do plan to attend a party, ask if you can get a discount for coming as part of a group (and check Groupon and Living Social to see if you can score an extra discount).
2. Dinner out
In New York, a dinner for two (including tip and tax) will run you anywhere from $700 – $1,500. If you do decide to dine out, you can save up to 50% just by eating before 6:30 p.m.
3. Head to major city hotspots
The top five New Year's Eve party destinations in the country are: New York City, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando and Miami. So if you do plan to party in one of these five cities, just plan to pay more up front.
4. Take a cab.
You will pay twice as much for the same cab ride just because it’s on New Year's Eve. If you do go out, choose a designated driver instead.
5. Buy "real" champagne.
Just like Christmas tree farmers live for Christmas, so too do champagne vintners wait all year for New Year's Eve. But "champagne" is just a fancy word for "grapes that grow in the Champagne region in France." Sparkling wine (look for prosecco and cava) will run you between two and five times less for a bottle—and will do just as well for your midnight toasts!
6. Buy your formal wear.
If you’re planning to attend a formal event, shopping in a friend's closet or renting ($20-$50/night versus hundreds) is often the budget-friendly choice—especially for guys who need a one-night-only tux!
3 Super save NYE party tips
1. Keep the menu simple and appropriate.
New Year's Eve is not a holiday about the food. It’s about the sparkling wine, the toasts and resolutions—and the friends that make us glad to get up for a whole new year! So keep your menu simple and affordable.
- Focus on hors d’oeuvres until around 11 p.m. Crackers and veggies, cheese cubes and dips, salty munchies, oven pizzas—here, make the bulk aisles of Costco and your stockpile your New Year's Eve party-planning partner.
- Then bring out your "midnight breakfast" feast. You can switch to protein-rich egg-and-ham casseroles (easy to find in the frozen foods section), croissants, bowls of fresh fruits, doughnuts or muffins—again, buy in bulk and work in shifts to prepare and serve.
- Do BYOB beverages. I don't think I've ever attended a New Year's Eve party where guests didn't automatically bring what they wanted to drink. No one thinks twice about picking up a bottle of bubbly or a six-pack of beer—along with a flat of water and non-alcoholic mixers. Best of all, this time-honored tradition of BYOB keeps your own party-host costs way down!
2. Decorate on a dime.
There is no need to spend a bundle on your New Year's Eve decorations, when the local dollar store likely has everything you need at a huge discount.
- Make a date with co-hosts to go "dollar store shopping." Paper goods, plastic ware, noisemakers, tiaras, feather boas, festive party hats, decorations, streamers, signage, balloons— everything you need to deck your walls and halls can likely be found for $1 or less.
3. Keep party favors small, tote-able, and practical.
Offering party favors can be particularly poignant—starting a whole near year only happens once every 364 days, after all! But keep it super-simple and cheap—and don't hesitate to raid your free samples stockpile in the assembly!
- Party favor ideas: Get small gift bags from the dollar store and fill them with aspirin, alka seltzer, hot chocolate mix, mints, a few small snacks and a paper "fortune" containing your best New Year's wishes for your friends.