How to Host an Awesome, Low-Cost New Year's Eve Party
By Maryalene LaPonsie
The year 2014 is quickly coming to a close. What will you be doing when the ball drops? Hopefully not sitting alone, feeling sorry for yourself because you're too broke to host your friends.
No matter how you celebrate, remember this: A fabulous New Year's Eve party will undoubtedly be a ruined memory if someone gets into an accident on the way home. If you're serving alcohol, know in advance how everyone plans to get safely back to their place. Is public transportation available? Is someone a designated driver? Or can guests crash at your place for the night? Don't wait until 1 a.m. to decide how to handle an obviously impaired guest who's heading out the door.
Here are 10 tips for a memorable yet inexpensive bash:
1. There's No Place Like Home
No need to go out and rent a space for your party. Hosting at your house or apartment is not only cheap, it's also more comfortable for both you and your guests.
2. Keep It Cozy
Of course, if you're having the party at your place, you probably can't invite all of your Facebook (FB) friends. But that's OK. Having a smaller party means spending less money and, more importantly, gives you the opportunity to actually enjoy the party yourself and connect with all your guests. Limit the invite list to a handful of close friends.
3. Create a Photo Booth
You'll want to have some entertainment for your friends, and nothing seems to be hotter nowadays than photo booths. However, renting a booth can be expensive. Instead make up your own by designating an area for your guests to mug for the camera. Hang a sheet for a backdrop and have a bin of props (check the dollar store for boas, hats, large glasses and more) for your friends to use. An app such as Pocketbooth will let them print and mail pics.
4. Ask Everyone to Bring Their Favorite Drink
Alcohol is one of the biggest expenses for an adult New Year's Eve party, but you can reduce the cost by asking everyone to bring their favorite cocktail to share. This strategy can also liven up the party by giving your guests a variety of new drinks to try.
5. Practice Saying, "Why, Yes, I'd Love You to Bring Something!"
Even after you suggest that guests bring a cocktail to share, some guests will undoubtedly ask if there is anything else they can bring. Your answer to this question should be "Yes!" Have a list of items ready and mention a couple suggestions with various price points, such as noisemakers from the dollar store or an appetizer, and let the partygoers decide which they might be able to bring.
6. Weigh the Pros and Cons of Disposables
Paper plates and cups make cleanup a snap, but they cost more than using the dishes in your cupboard. Look at your budget and decide which option makes the most sense for your party. If you don't have enough matching dishware, don't let that worry you. Mix-and-match plates, bowls and glasses can look trendy and festive.
7. Extend the Life of Your Holiday Decorations
Your house is likely decorated for the December holidays, and those festive lights and decor can make an attractive backdrop for a New Year's Eve party, too. Even if the tree comes down early, consider keeping some of your lights or other decorations up through the first of the year.
8. Patronize the Dollar Store
When you do need to go shopping, don't forget that the dollar store is your best friend. If you decide to go the paper route for plates and cups, you can get what you need for cheap at the dollar store. Plus, your local store likely has all the decorations, noisemakers and party favors you need for a fun night with friends.
9. Skip a Big Meal
Since New Year's Eve parties tend to start later, there' no need to prepare a big meal. Your guests will probably have eaten dinner before arriving at your place. Instead of a big spread, make some easy appetizers, such as meatballs in the slow cooker, and a few simple desserts. A cheese and cracker tray can also be an inexpensive way to feed your guests if you buy chunk cheese and slice it yourself.
10. Have a Plan for When the Clock Strikes Midnight
Finally, the highlight of the night is when the clock strikes midnight. Figure out in advance how you want to mark the moment. Will you turn on the TV and watch the ball drop? Or do your own countdown? Make sure you have the traditional song "Auld Lang Syne" ready to play as you ring in the new year.