How to Throw a NYE Party on a Budget

Just because New Year's Eve snuck up on you doesn't mean you can't have a completely fabulous party with your friends and family—without spending all your holiday cash. 

With Christmas, Hanukkah, and a slew of other holidays this time of year, it's easy to forget it's almost New Year's—and time to ring in another 365 days of the earth spinning 'round. We'll show you how to have a fabulous party—without spending all your holiday cash.

​First, decide on a budget for your party. You don't need to spend a great deal of money to have friends and family over—and certainly not on a celebration with just the people in your house. Remember: If you let those attending help supply some of the party's needs, it can drastically reduce how much your party costs.

cheese plate and wine at small dinner party at home
Gregory Lee / Adobe Stock

Pick a Theme

People love a theme party because you know exactly what you're getting yourself into, and hosts love them too because it sets simple parameters—and those can help you stick to your budget. "Create a theme for the New Year's Eve Party to make it more festive and fun, but also more able to manage with creative ways to cut costs," says chef Will Gilson, owner of Puritan & Company and The Lexington in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For example, Michael Serpa, owner of Grand Tour and Select Oyster Bar in Boston, suggests making "the party a bottle-swap party, where guests are asked to bring their favorite bottle of wine for a gift swap, and then guests are able to enjoy someone else's pick with a note on what makes it special from the gift giver."

Or, says Gilson, try a New Year's Eve breakfast for dinner" party—"where mini waffles with dipping syrup, baby quiche, and bacon can take the stage." Why? "Brunch is always a better price point," Gilson explains, "and you can also save on alcohol costs by getting a cheap version of bubbly (think prosecco or cava) to add to a make-your-own mimosa and bellini station."

You can also try a pajama party, which can be a chic event for adults or a relaxed vibe for the whole family. Who doesn't remember staying up in pj's for the countdown as a child? Or make it fancy: "Pairing a more traditional sleep set with heels can be a really fun option, too," says stylist Laurel Kinney. "Plus you'll be the envy of everyone at the party because you can just hop into bed right afterward!"

Keep the Decor Simple

Follow Taylor Swift's lead and keep up your Christmas lights, tree, and any other festive decor you have in your house through January. Hey, if we've learned anything in the past couple of years, it's to find festive joy wherever you can—and lean into it.

For the kids (and kids at heart), go online and print out simple crown cut-outs (such as these prince and princess designs) that they can either color or use to trace onto construction paper. Have star cutouts ready for them to decorate and write a wish on the back to hang on the tree for good luck, or make noisemakers by poking a small hole in the side of a paper towel roll and securing paper with a rubber band around one end—just blow in the other end, you've got a DIY kazoo.

Go Heavy on the Apps

The best New Year's parties often include tons of appetizers, so you can graze and mingle all night. And if you can pull together your own—instead of loading up on frozen options from the grocery store—you'll save big.

"Have a variety of dips on hand. Most are easy to make, and the ingredients are economical," says Gilson. Who doesn't love pimiento cheese and spinach dip? Keeping the snacks low on meat but heavy on flavor will save your budget.

Gilson offers another delicious idea: "Another easy hack is baked brie with canned Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry sauce poured on top. It looks fancy and is delicious." You don't have to splurge on the fanciest brie for a baked option, either; you have our permission to use the store brand.

If you don't want to use your regular serving dishes, you don't have to go disposable to stay within budget. Pick up mismatched appetizer plates at a thrift store for an inexpensive statement look. You can even donate them back to the shop after the holidays.

Think Large-Format with Drinks, Too

Don't stress yourself out with a full bar; batched cocktails are the way to go, and if you keep the alcohol percentage low, everyone will actually make it to midnight.

"Make large-batch cocktails and get some retro punch bowls," says Serpa. "You can do a hot wassail and a cold bubbly spiked punch for your guests. It will save money on liquor, and guests will love the festive nature of the presentation."

You can even whip up a virgin punch (we love this spicy hibiscus version for the holidays) and have a bottle of your favorite spirit on hand for the drinkers.

Shop Your Closet

Of course, as the host of the evening, you probably want to look fabulous. The best way to do this on a budget? Dig around the back of your closet, says Kinney.

"Instead of buying a brand new outfit, think about playing with what you already have in your closet but may not have pulled out in a few years," Kinney explains, adding that "a great party look is usually a little bit bold and unexpected in spirit."

What does that mean? Mix up textures, pull a fun top, and pair it with something a bit bolder than normal.

"Try wearing shiny silk with faux fur, or smooth leather with a textured knit, or that embellished heel with fishnet stockings," says Kinney. "A stylish outfit usually has a little tension in it, a little 'wow I would never have thought to put those together,' so don't be afraid to experiment with opposites and go a little wild in your closet playing dress-up."

Of course, the most important ingredients for any New Year's Eve party are fun and festivity, so turn the music up and keep the vibes going for a happy 2022.

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