Every time I see photos from one of those huge New Year’s Eve parties, it doesn’t look anyone is really having any fun. Between the crowds packed in everywhere, the desperation to have fun, and the overpriced drinks and cabs, it seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
Instead, I spend the holiday with friends. It’s not quiet, but it is fun, affordable, and safe. Here are my tips for saving money while having fun this New Year’s Eve.
Hang Out With Friends
As I said, I’ve hung out with friends almost every New Year’s for the last 18 years. Most years, we rotate hosting duties so one person isn’t stuck with the clean-up year after year. For several years, we also brought sleeping bags and slept wherever the party was. It was much safer than driving home at two AM.
Pool Your Resources
In addition to rotating hosting duties, we also celebrated pot luck style. Most people brought munchies and alcohol. Nearly everyone brought champagne. For big blow-outs like the Millennium, my husband and I hosted it and simply asked everyone attending to kick in $20. We went to Costco and spent all the money we collected on booze and food for the party. It worked out perfectly. We had a couple no-shows, but his roommates (we weren’t married yet) were more than happy to buy the leftover beer from us.
Have a Theme Party
A few times, we’ve held theme parties for New Year’s. One year was a tacky prom. We all bought thrift store clothes from different decades and danced to throwback tunes. We dressed up a little for the Millennium and held an End-of-the-World theme. The year we all turned 21 featured a huge assortment of all the alcohol we were now legal to buy.
Avoid Pricey Clubs
I see all sorts of NYE galas advertised at the end of the year. They just don’t seem worth it. Most cost at least $50, with many upwards of $100. Many also require you to buy a dress or rent a tux. Then you get to eat rubber food and enjoy overpriced champagne at midnight. A friend who once attended one of these parties said it wasn’t worth the cost. On top of that, she also reserved a room upstairs for the ball, which cost triple the normal rate and had a miserable view.
Avoid Las Vegas
Another friend went to Las Vegas for New Year’s. He said it was completely miserable. There were lines everywhere, he couldn’t get in anywhere, and the cabs were full. He spent all night just trying to get somewhere so he could have fun, and paid double the room rate for the privilege.
Avoid Times Square
My husband was once invited to a party overlooking Time Square, but the street was blocked off and they couldn’t get there. Instead, he and his friend spent the evening standing in the cold with all the other people waiting to watch the ball drop. He says it wasn’t worth it, especially after they tried to go into a bar to go to the bathroom and wound up paying a $30 cover charge.
Of course, all of the above probably makes me sound like a New Year’s Eve spoilsport, but I’m really not. When I spend the evening with friends, I have fun and save money. As a bonus, I’m not so hung-over that I can’t get up to watch the parade in the morning.