The year is almost over and you want to go out with a bang. However, you don’t want the contents of your bank account to go away with it. It might seem like your only options are to literally go broke this New Year’s Eve or go nowhere at all and sit alone at home. Don’t worry, this is a false dilemma; you can have fun as this year gives way to the next without waking up to an empty wallet in January.
For the Partygoers
You’ve made up your mind: you’re going out this NYE no matter what. Does that mean prices and expenditures are now out of your control? Absolutely not.
First things first: book everything you can in advance. As with most things, booking far in advance will get you a cheaper rate. Book that space you want to hang out at with your friends now.
Do you have kids who need a babysitter? You could post it as a job listing online, but first check to see if others have already beaten you to it. No, seriously, open a new tab and check. Professional babysitters start taking calls for their New Year’s services months in advance.
Heck, check to see if you can book a taxi or rideshare service in your area in advance if you think it’s necessary. Doing so can greatly minimize price-gouging.
Beyond that, don’t spend what isn’t necessary. It can be as straightforward as going easy at the bar this New Year’s, for both your body’s and your wallet’s sake.
If you still need a ride home at the end of the night, be aware of your options. If you live in a major urban area, there’s a chance public transportation fares will be greatly reduced or even free as part of your municipality’s incentive to keep unsafe drivers off the road.
Going back to the babysitter problem: could you get someone to watch your children in exchange for a favor instead of money? Maybe you feel it’s more worth your time to just pay them than to spend the first Saturday of the new year shoveling their driveway, but you have the option on the table.
In many circles, New Year’s Eve is still considered a formal occasion, or at the very least, an occasion to try to dress classier than usual. If this sounds like what you’re trying to do, don’t be afraid to try to shop resale. Those shops are like treasure chests just waiting to be opened. You also have another option: borrow clothes from a friend if you feel comfortable enough to ask. Men may be more averse to this, but if all parties are willing and see “saving money” and “being classy” as legitimate objectives, it can be done. (Hey, guys, maybe it’ll even strengthen your bromance. You never know.)
Maybe after all this thought, you just want to have something small at your place, just some mellow hanging out with your friends, nothing too big or fancy. That would be an excellent way to save money. But then there will be those of you who do want something big and fancy…
For the Party-Throwers
This is going to be the year you really wow your friends and associates. You’re going to host one of those classic New Year’s Eve parties that makes your guests worried they aren’t dressed fancily enough. But you also have a budget to keep. So, what can be done?
Don’t be cheap, be financially efficient. What are your guests going to eat? Are you going to only have snacks and refreshments or are you going to provide an actual, structured meal?
Whichever it is, maybe instead of paying big money for an entrée or unfulfilling junk food, make some appetizers and hors d’oeuvres that will satisfy your friends for less. In some traditions, having a bunch of small courses for food is the New Year’s tradition anyway, so embrace it. Be sure to let any skeptical friends know this is the way it’s supposed to be done.
But what will the guests consume their food with? We’re not going to tell you at this point to buy cheap plastic forks and knives – we’re going to say just use the forks and knives you already own.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough of one uniform type of plate or fork for a nice orderly look; some might even find the mix-and-matching endearing. If somebody thinks less of you for frugally using perfectly-serviceable silverware instead of ponying up for expensive china you’ll never use again, perhaps you shouldn’t value their opinion.
Then there’s the matter of alcohol. First things first: are you sure you need it? Like… at all? If you can cut that from your shopping list, it will certainly save you a bundle in the end.
If you can’t cut alcohol from your shopping list, you’ll need to be prepared. Is it champagne you need for the stroke of midnight? Do you want some wine for when you dine? Buy just as much as you need and no more.
Purchase enough for everyone to get a glass of wine with dinner and a glass of bubbly for twelve-o-one a.m.; would you and your guests agree that would suffice?
For the rest of the night, your guests will surely still be thirsty for something. You can go non-alcoholic and provide eggnog, punch, or soda or something like that. You could also take those same drinks and add liquor to them if you’re up for it. You could also provide a variety of beer. You know your crowd better than anyone!
Do you need decorations? Try to reuse your Christmas regalia. You don’t need to leave it all in the same place as it was on the 25th, but rearrange it so it looks fresh while still being festive.
Show some love to your local arts and crafts store and make your own decorations. Are you feeling so fancy that you want to send out cordial invitations on actual, physical cards? Same thing applies or you could make them yourself to cut costs.
Our last piece of advice is one that may make some of you nervous to implement, but it’s one of the best and fairest ways to save money: ask your friends to pitch in. Try to get them to bring some food and drinks, and help set up, too, since your time is at least as valuable as your money. This way it’s really everybody’s party, it just happens to be taking place at your house.
As with most festivities, New Year’s Eve can be fun without causing you to go broke. You could theoretically have a fun night – and a wacky early morning – without spending a dime, but you still have the option to splurge on a budget if you’d like. But whatever you decide to do, be responsible so there may be many more New Year’s celebrations in the future.