New Year’s Eve on a Budget!

Image courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

On a budget? Well, who isn’t right now? However, that doesn’t mean you need to forgo planning an off the hook New Year’s Eve Party. I’ve got some tips that will help you get more shizzle for your swizzle stick.

Linnea Johansson, party planner extraordinaire and author of the book Perfect Parties, says that that no matter what type of party you are planning or the amount of your budget, “Don’t try to do everything, keep it simple and put your focus on one or two things and really do them well instead of doing everything so-so.” So, let’s break it down.

Don’t feel like you need to serve a 12-course meal; cocktail parties are a lot easier on your wallet. Just make it clear to your guests that you’re not throwing a dinner party. Also, keep it simple and don’t try to serve 15 different appetizers, but instead come up with 2-3 inexpensive little nibbles.

Image courtesy of the Food Network

  • Tsia Carson, from the website Supernaturale and the author of Craftivity, likes to make cucumber cups filled with sake. Your guests can drink the sake and then eat their cups…food and drink in one. Here’s a recipe from the Food Network.
  • As a southern girl, Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary Club likes to serve black-eyed peas for New Year’s Eve. She uses this recipe from for a tasty and inexpensive Black-eyed Pea Dip.
  • can also be a good resource to help you come up with recipes using food you already have in your cabinets!


  • There is no need to hire a DJ, just create your own Mp3 playlist. Get your friends involved too, but make sure to be specific about what you are looking for…if you are looking for booty jams, you don’t want to end up with smooth jazz!
  • Becky O’Neill, the designer behind Becky OH! suggests putting your guests to work as the entertainment. “At the best New Year’s Eve party I ever attended, everyone was required to do a performance. The night was organized around the acts and it was so much fun. Some people even learned new skills to come, like flamenco dancing, tap dancing and even stand-up.”
  • If you are lucky enough to have a Wii or know someone who has one, have a Wii Sports tournament. It’s a really great icebreaker!

The biggest party investment hands-down is alcohol.  Since buying multiple types of booze is definitely more costly, one way to save some of your dinero is to serve punch or just one kind of cocktail. Also, try shopping at a warehouse store, the prices are often a lot cheaper. Don’t forget to check in with your liquor store though. Many have a buyers’ club or offer discounts on cases.

Decorations and Ambiance
While decorations can be important to setting the mood or setting up a theme party, it’s very easy for party planners to overspend. Make sure not to forget those three little words…do-it-yourself!

Friends of Jennifer Perkins at last year’s New Year’s Eve party.

  • For a little bit of decoration and entertainment, Jennifer from Naughty Secretary Club, suggests getting guests involved in making their own pipe cleaner tiaras and hats.
  • Use food as décor. Nicole Batch of Pink Loves Brown fills glass containers with the brightly-colored Japanese candy called Pocky. Voila…edible decorations! You can also make fruit sculptures with Styrofoam and toothpicks.

Your Look
It’s quite possible to spend a small fortune just primping for your big party, but consider going to a cosmetology school for your hair, make-up and nails. The cost can be unbelievably cheap! Visit for a state-by-state listing of cosmetology schools.  Plus, don’t forget about thrifting or refashioning your outfit.  Or swap with a friend.

Theme Parties
Theme parties can be helpful in the planning stage, since they help provide some structure for your party.  They can also be a real blast if planned well.

  • New Year’s Eve Scavenger Hunt – have guests bring a list of at least 5 resolutions. Then shuffle the lists and distribute them amongst teams.  The teams need to find at least one item that relates to each of the resolutions on their collective lists.
  • Pimped-Out PJ party – everyone wears their pimped-out or refashioned jammies. Serve cookies and Kahlua & milk. Provide lots of pillows and blankets. With everyone already in his or her jammies, you won’t have to worry about anyone drinking and driving.
  • Foodie Cooking party – everyone brings a recipe and the ingredients to cook over the course of the evening.
  • Movie Night – have your guests dress up like a character from a movie and bring a DVD to watch. Watch movies and serve popcorn and cherry rum and cokes.

General Cost-saving tips

  • Thrift for serving trays, dishes and punch bowls instead of buying new. It’s more eco-friendly anyway.
  • Don’t buy coordinated napkins, plates and cups. Just buy in bulk and save some money, your guest will not care at all.
  • Don’t worry about mailing out invites, just pick up the phone or send out an email. If you just love paper, make your own invitations from recycled materials and hand-deliver them if possible.
  • Throw a party with a group of friends and share in the costs of the planning. Chances are you all want to invite most of the same people anyway.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. It’s just like going to the grocery store without a list, you are going to spend more if you don’t make a budget right from the start.

That’s it folks.  I do hope whatever your plans are that you have a rockin’ good time!

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