New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, and celebrating often means spending too much money to hit the town for overpriced drinks that can leave you and your budget feeling just a bit hung over.
Your alternative doesn’t have to be a lonely night staying in at home watching the ball drop on TV, single champagne flute in hand -- nor does it mean that you have to overspend if you want to invite friends over for an impromptu ringing in of the New Year.
Just like knowing how to go about last-minute holiday shopping in the most affordable yet effective way possible, here are several ways to eat, drink and create some merriment by hosting your own NYE festivities when you’re in the eleventh hour of 2016:
You might be compelled to cook a nice, big dinner for guests if you’re hosting. But a New Year’s Eve party is generally situated late in the evening, after dinnertime, so keep food limited to snacks, bites, hors d’oeuvres and dessert. Make it a BYOA/BYOB get-together, aka Bring Your Own Appetizer/Bring Your Own Beverage, and ask everyone to bring their favorites to share. On your end, have plenty of champagne and flutes on hand to drink when the clock strikes midnight. Liquor store all out? Opt for a sweet dessert wine instead, like a sangria or Moscato.
Decorate on the cheap
The lights will be dimmed, the hour will be late, and the setting, informal, so it’s not all that important to deck your halls with lavish decor. Stay budget minded. Hit your local dollar store to stock up on party hats, streamers, balloons and noisemakers or votive candles to keep the lighting intimate and dim.
For a true DIY experience, reuse some of the Christmas decorations you’re in the midst of taking down this week, like garland or glittery tree ornaments -- or, get crafty and make some of your own in a pinch, like cutting pieces of wrapping paper for confetti, or curling ribbons to hang from the ceiling, from the lights, and in doorways. New Year’s Eve parties have a penchant for disarray, so scatter decorations with abandon throughout your apartment or house. Do the same for deciding against proper dishes and utensils for the paper and plastic variety. For a NYE party, mixing and matching doesn’t come across as mixed up or mismatched, but cool, trendy, and festive.
Make it a game night
You could order a pizza and drink plenty of beer, wine or champagne until midnight, watch the ball drop on TV -- then drink some more -- and call it a New Year’s Eve night. But that’s not exactly too engaging. Infuse the shindig with some fun and games and invite your guests, friends and neighbors to join in. These playing cards from Real Simple let your guests fill out their New Year’s resolutions in true Mad Libs style (and filling them out under the influence of champagne makes for some fun answers). Selfies will be snapped for sure, but set up your own photo booth in an area to mug for the camera, replete with props, decorations and other sundry items you can pick up in your dollar store hunting. (Look for photo-ready gimmicks like hats, oversized glasses, feathers, feather boas and more.) Set up a backdrop, let everyone paint or write whatever strikes their fancy, and let your smartphone do the picture taking, letting everyone take turns as the photographer.
Plan your timing
Your party is all about waiting for midnight, but what will happen when the clock strikes 12? Unless everyone in the room turns into a pumpkin, anticipate how everyone will celebrate the official start of the New Year. Will you be watching Times Square on TV? Can everyone fit on the balcony to watch the fireworks in the sky over your downtown? If neither option is doable, can you make your own countdown? Your smartphone is the best bet for getting the most accurate time to avoid counting down to midnight when midnight was actually two minutes prior, or worse, ringing in 2017 when it’s still 2016 for another two minutes. Will you sing a New Year’s song like "Auld Lang Syne," or something else? Let the confetti fly, the noisemakers ring and the champagne glasses clink as you fill up for some more bubbly.
Start the party at home and then go out
The evening doesn’t have to limit you to staying home. If you and your friends would really like to be among the masses on New Year’s Eve, start the party at home and move it onto your favorite restaurant, bar or watering hole around the 11 p.m. hour. Filling up with apps and getting your buzz on in advance at home is one way to save money on overpriced, watered down drinks and menu items if you choose to hit the town later on.
Look for NYE community events
Last minute plans aside, today (Dec. 31) is the perfect time to go online and check if there are any community or local New Year’s Eve events happening in your area. Do you have a community center, local arts council or special concert venue hosting something you and your friends can go to? Many events are free of charge, or if there’s an admission fee or ticket price, more affordable than an inflated bar tab. Split the costs of transportation or ticket prices with your friends and guests, including costs for Uber or cab fare if there’s been too much drinking (or there’s no designated driver).
These are just a few ideas for having a Rockin’ New Year’s Eve when you haven’t planned out in advance -- and frankly, New Year’s Eve is the holiday that’s always so much more fun when it is planned out last minute. Keep it spontaneous, keep it simple, and make it a New Year’s party that will be remembered for years to come.