It’s About Time: New Year’s Bash on a Budget

The countdown has begun, and some of the biggest New Year’s preparations are already in the works. Would you like to throw your own end-of-year blowout but are reluctant to spend tons of money on the festivity?

The food, drinks, decorations and entertainment for a party can add up to be quite the bill, so we’ve developed a list of 6 tips for cutting costs on your New Year’s bash without cutting the fun. Learn how to host a fabulous New Year’s party without the notorious debt hangover. It’s as simple as setting a budget, following these tips and watching the ball drop as sparkles, horns and cheer fill the air!

1. Pick a Theme

Begin the party planning by selecting a theme for the night. New Year’s is the general theme, but perhaps you want a more specific idea to incorporate into your party. A few examples might be “out with the old, and in with the new” or “party like it’s 1999″. Integrate your theme into the table decorations, music and food to create a dynamic party environment for your guests.

Costume parties are a great option for those who want to throw a party on a budget. Why? When you have a room full of elaborately dressed party guests, you don’t need tons of extra decorations. Here are a few New Year’s party theme to consider incorporating into your celebration.

2. Location

Where is the party going to be held? Unless you are offered a free location to host the party or you have enough in your budget to rent a private room at a club/restaurant, it is always best for those on a budget to host parties at home. Move around furniture and manipulate a space in your house to create the perfect party pad. After all, it’s free and you’ll have plenty of time to prepare the space in advance.

3. Guest List and Invitations

Decide who you would like to invite to your party. The smaller and more intimate the party, the easier it will be to stay on budget. Remember that it is your responsibility as the party host to provide enough food and drinks for the guests that you invite, so do some calculations to ensure that you can manage them all in your budget. Once you have come up with a number, it is time to think about invitations.

There are two types of invitations that can be made on the skinny: The first option is to send out email based invitations from an invitation website. The second option, for those who prefer invitations be sent by post, is to get creative with card stock, stamps, markers and other craft supplies to make beautiful, homemade invites. Some websites even offer Do It Yourself printable invitation templates that can be embellished with some ribbon or glitter.

4. Menu

Think about the food and drinks that you can afford to buy. Appetizers are, generally, more economical and more fun to eat than a full blown meal. People love tapas. It gives them the freedom to sample all the delicious food without feeling extremely full at the end of the night. Small bites also keep people moving and interacting throughout the evening, which is ideal for a New Year’s party. Think about meatballs, tomato and cheese skewers, phyllo-stuffed cups, soft tortilla roll-ups, bite size sandwiches, chips and dip, ceviche, cupcakes and other tasty food items that are cheap to make, but seemingly up-scale.

If you aren’t the best chef on the block or if your budget is tight, turn the food portion of your party into a game for guests to participate in. Each guest is either given or draws a recipe out of a hat to make and bring to the party. This way, the economical responsibility, as well as party preparation, is shared. Potlucks are a great way for everyone to donate some tasty nibbles for the evening.

When considering the evening cocktails, the traditional New Year’s champagne can be replaced with a more affordable substitute, prosecco. Prosecco is a sparkling wine, similar to champagne, but as it is made in Italy as opposed to the Champagne region of France, the price is considerably less. The prosecco for the evening can be spread out to last longer by mixing it with fruit juice to make a flavored sparkling wine. Otherwise, the skip sparkling and go straight for the hard stuff. Make a concoction of liquor, fresh or concentrated juice and soda for a big bowl of party punch.

5. Music

Make a playlist on your iPod or iPad that you can use to be the deejay all night long. Be sure to include the classic New Year’s tunes, like Prince’s “1999”, Robert Burn’s “Auld Lang Syne” and Otis Redding’s “New Year’s Resolution”. Pandora radio can also keep the party tunes coming all night long. Whether you decide to go with radio and recorded music or live music by a talented friend, just make sure to keep the music lively and entertaining for your guests. Remember, they at least have to stay awake to see the ball drop.

6. Decorations

Focus on decorating the food table with a nice tablecloth, some votive candles and fun centerpieces. Save money by making the noise makers, hats, food and desserts part of the decorations for the night. One idea is to flip New Year’s hats upside down, fill them with sand and stick sparklers, noise makers and other typical entertainment items in the hats as centerpieces, which can be used at the stroke of midnight. Organic sticks and leaves from your yard can be dressed up with simple, metallic spray paint. Making decorations from colored paper, glitter and other craft supplies is often cheaper than purchasing them at a store, so utilize any creative talents that you may have to create your own decorations. You can even make your own noise makers!

Bring in the new year with a bang! These budget party solutions are guaranteed to keep your party rocking and your wallet fat. So let the countdown begin…

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