How to celebrate New Year’s Eve while saving money

As 2023 comes to a close, you may be in the midst of deciding how to celebrate the last holiday of the season: New Year’s Eve. While the occasion is often an opportunity to go out with your friends, you may be in search of an opportunity that’s more budget-friendly.

New Year’s Eve is often perceived as an excuse to go out drinking, bar hopping, or dancing with friends until the early hours of the morning. Much of the excitement surrounding the holiday can be seen in New York City, with thousands of people gathering in Times Square every year to see the famous ball drop.

In addition to crowded bars on New Year’s Eve, there’s also the hefty drink prices and occasional cover charges that come with paying for events. Although the cost of alcohol can vary, cocktails in New York City bars can cost up to $20 a piece, with prices being even higher on such a popular holiday.

By considering the cost of going out, as well as how much you spent in 2023, you may be wanting to save some money this holiday. Perhaps the idea of beginning 2024 in a nightclub isn’t your thing either, and you’re looking for a good alternative.

From hosting an intimate house party to creating your own cocktails, here are some fun ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve without hurting your wallet.

Arts and crafts night

While it may not be a night at the bars, a night in with close friends is usually the easiest and most enjoyable way to save some cash. So, why not celebrate 31 December with a new activity? An arts and crafts project is even perfect for those who have zero painting experience whatsoever.

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To prepare for the evening, make your way to a local crafts store to buy a pack of blank canvases for less than $15. You can also purchase some acrylic paints and a set of brushes, before bringing your supplies home and setting up for the arts and crafts night.

After giving each of your friends a canvas on New Year’s Eve, they will have the opportunity to paint whatever they please – whether it’s a painting of their childhood pet or a purple sunset over the lake. In the end, you’ll not only be ringing in the New Year with your best friends, but everyone will end 2023 with something new in their hands.

Movie night

With the help of whatever streaming platform or cable service on your TV, your New Year’s Eve night in can include a movie or two. Although the holiday isn’t necessarily like the 25th of December, with an array of Christmas movies to choose from, that’s not to say that you don’t have options.

For example, the popular rom-com When Harry Met Sally includes some iconic scenes that take place during a New Year’s Eve party. The 2011 film New Year’s Eve follows a series of New York City residents celebrating the holiday, along with a star-studded cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Or, you can pick a movie that has zero relevance to the holiday but is still of interest to your guests.

To keep saving money in mind, ask each of your friends to bring some food, such as a bag of popcorn or a plate of cooked vegetables. Aside from meals and treats, you can task one friend with bringing alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages to toast with when the clock strikes midnight.

Small house party

The thought of hosting a party on New Year’s Eve may sound a bit jarring at first, but that doesn’t mean it will break the bank. As opposed to shoving your way through a busy bar, you can opt to play loud music – at a reasonable volume – and enjoy some mixed drinks in your own home.

Invite a set number of people and friends, depending on the size of your space. After inviting 10 or so guests, ask each one to bring their own bottle of alcohol or mixer, so you don’t end up purchasing drinks for everyone. Instead, you can supply some chips, dips, or whatever snacks you crave as opposed to paying for a whole meal.

Although you won’t be going out for the evening, you can still create your own dress code for the night. New Year’s Eve is often associated with flashy clothing like glittery makeup and disco balls. Instruct your friends to grab whatever gold skirt, sparkly top, or silver earrings they own and wear their fanciest attire during the night in.

Dinner date

Depending on the location, not all restaurants will necessarily be crowded on New Year’s Eve. Why not turn the holiday into a great opportunity for a date night with your significant other or your best friend? A dinner for two is not only more intimate, but it results in a much smaller bill than a dinner for five friends.

While you won’t be having dinner at 12am on 1 January, you can still end your date with a drink at a casual bar. If there’s a bar at the restaurant, have your midnight toast there. If you want to avoid the crowds at midnight, you can also head home after dinner to drink some champagne instead.

Make your own cocktails night

If you’re a fan of a sweet drink but don’t want to pay for one at the bar, then an evening dedicated to making your own cocktails is a perfect New Year’s Eve celebration. Begin the occasion by looking up any recipe you want – whether it’s an Aperol spritz or a classic margarita with a twist. For example, one drink recipe from Delish calls for a margarita with champagne, as well as tequila, lime juice, and orange liquer.

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You can choose to make cocktails with friends, or you may ask each one to make their own set of drinks so everyone has something new to try. Try to time exactly when each person concocts their drink, so that you’ll be closing out the night with a new toast.

If you and your friends aren’t fans of alcohol, beverages like soda, juice, and fruit can also be used to make a creative drink. The Food Network’s recipe for a Country Grammar Mocktail calls for fresh grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, simple syrup, soda water, and a lime wedge. To maintain the theme of New Year’s Eve, don’t just serve your mocktails in a champagne flute; top them off with some edible glitter to make your drink look pretty.

Game night

Family-friendly games may be the last activity you’d consider on New Year’s Eve, but that’s not be the case for everyone. When hosting your friends during the holiday, classic games like UNO, Twister, Monopoly, Jenga, or charades can help raise the party’s energy level. Game night also serves as a chance for your friend from high school and your pal from college – who’ve only met a few times – to get to know each other a little better.

If your guests are all above the age of 21, you can bring a drinking game into the mix. For example, every time someone puts a finger down when playing “Never Have I Ever” – to signify that they’ve done the particular thing that’s being discussed – they also have to take a sip of their drink.

There’s also the popular “Do or Drink” card game, in which players must choose between doing a seemingly strange challenge or taking a sip of their drink. Of course, everyone should be taking into account how much alcohol they’ve been consuming, and avoid drinking more than they can handle when playing these games.

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