If you don’t want to go out and you don’t want to go broke, here’s how to throw a New Year’s Eve party on a budget.
Uber surges, triple digit cover charges, cheap Champagne bars, and dance floors packed with guys named Trent. Oh and “where the &#@! did Liz just go?!” I think that we can all agree going anywhere in public on New Year’s Eve is the worst.
The natural alternative is to throw a New Year’s Eve party so swanky and fun, it’ll make this year of infinite disaster, both natural and manmade, seem like it never even happened.
Okay, great! Sounds like a plan. Only one problem: You bought exactly zero Bitcoins and parties, especially cool ones, tend to be expensive. Well we’re here to tell you they don’t have to be and together we’re going to hack our way to a wicked New Year’s Eve party. On a budget.
Plastic Champagne Flutes with Gold Glitter, 30 for $15.99 on Amazon
Classier than they have any right to be.
Chances are you’ll want your faboosh fête to carry through midnight, so it’s also likely starting late too. Score! You can get away with heavy apps, which you’re going to slay, and do let guests know so they don’t come expecting five courses.
It’s New Year’s, so you’ll want to do something special but that doesn’t mean you have to break yourself. Aim for something fun but fancy and a little unexpected like Crab Guacamole on Endive.
Cheap Trick: Substitute perfectly suitable canned jumbo lump to save on crab costs.
Consider our hearty Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms recipe for your vegetarian friends.
They’re filled with actual stuffing, which you can buy cheap in a box and doctor up with a few fancy but affordable additions, like sauteed shallots or onions, fresh herbs, toasted nuts, and/or dried fruit.
Or go with a retro Cheese Fondue, if you own a set. It’s a uniquely social food and always elicits a hearty giggle or two.
Oster Fondue Pot, $34.99 on Amazon
Not too late to ask for this for Christmas!
Shrimp cocktail is painfully overpriced in restaurants but surprisingly inexpensive (shhh) and relatively easy to make at home; get our Shrimp Cocktail recipe for proof. Or take things a bit further with Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Smoked Paprika, but seriously, make enough or riots will ensue.
Related Reading: 12 Easy Holiday Party Appetizers
Cheap Trick: You don’t need to use the good stuff for these; the sweet sorbet will make bargain bubbles taste great.
Give ‘Em a Punch
A sexy NYE punch is both economical (as long as you stick to a recipe with a short ingredients list) and fun. Do it right, like with our Poinsettia Punch recipe and all will be both drinking it and talking about it all night.
Related Reading: The Best Tips to Prevent Hangovers
“Champagne For My Real Friends…”
So the saying goes. There’s no way around it: You’re going to need Champagne and the good stuff ‘aint cheap, BUT it’s the perfect thing to ask guests to bring. Folks should bring at least as much as they anticipate drinking, so for couples and those who tip ‘em back (looking at you, Aunt Janet), don’t be afraid to suggest they bring a “couple of bottles.”
Stockpile a few yourself, just in case, but do your research. Gruet runs only around $15-$20 per bottle and gets consistently high marks from critics. At a slightly higher price point ($32) you can sack a few bottles of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc. Pop and pour ‘em as everyone gathers around for the ball drop, per tradition, whilst someone hacks their way though “Auld Lang Syne.”
Related Reading: 9 Grocery Store Wines Worth Entertaining With
I’m not here to lecture you on the importance of good music at a party but believe me when I tell you, nobody wants to hear that Black Eyed Peas song three, or even two times during the evening.
You have good taste, you know you do, so take some time to put together a fun thoughtful and lively mix long enough that there are no repeats. And/or text some attending friends for a few of their favorite song suggestions and incorporate accordingly.
Keep it fun and mix it up. Start things off with something smooth and upbeat like Diana Ross or Janelle Monáe and build towards midnight with more aggressive funk and pop and dance beats. Or just throw on Prince Pandora and call it a year.
Of course, at the end of the day, music is ultimately a matter of taste, so if your crew wants death metal, by god give them death metal!
Decor and More
Sure, you could just raid Party City for silver balloons, confetti, and those cardboard kazoos, and I suggest you do because it’s an inexpensive way to infuse some shimmer, but be creative. Spring for white or clear helium balloons—with a little coordination and varying sizes, you can achieve this trippy Champagne bubble effect! Or buy them pre-assembled here on Etsy.
New Year's Eve Party Decorations Kit, $21.99 on Amazon
There's also always Amazon.
And why just decorate your place when you can decorate your guests, too…
Step 1: Flip through your Rolodex and find that one friend you know loves putting on makeup and call them on the sly.
Step 2: Buy something glittery.
NYX Professional Makeup Face & Body Glitter, $4.55 on Amazon
This will do nicely and fit into any budget.
Step 3: Ask your MUA to put just a little on everyone, boys and girls, over the course of the evening (those who resist shall be shunned and banned forever).
Step 4: Turn an iPad into a photobooth and capture the glamour of your very first and very fabulous New Year’s Eve party.
Congratulations. You did it. Happy new year. Now go to bed. Your resolution diet starts in two hours…
Related Video: How to Open Champagne the Right Way
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.