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How to Have a Fabulous (and Frugal) New Year’s Eve

December 21, 2018

4 min read

New Year’s Eve is perhaps the most ludicrously opulent holiday.

Restaurants advertise decadent prix fixe menus that only a king could afford, and clubs and bars pull in “celebrity” DJs and charge mind-blowing covers. Even your crummy local pub will charge double digits for you to wash your wings down with cheap sparkling white wine.

In general, prices are higher than ever because bar owners know that NO ONE wants to feel FOMO at midnight.

Instead of wasting your money waiting in line behind a velvet rope,  consider throwing your own event at a fraction of the cost.

Here’s how to enjoy a more frugal (but still fabulous) New Year’s Eve for under $50.

Throw a Best Bubbles Party

It’s super easy. Have each guest bring a very cheap bottle of Prosecco or Champagne. You purchase one expensive bottle (have your guests help you split the cost). Then, host a blind taste test party in which everyone ranks the all the different bubblies and tries to pick out the classy stuff. Once rated, tally the results, and reveal the “Best Bubble” Award to a bottle right before midnight. Cheers, everyone’s a winner!

Total cost: <$15 per person

Host a Golden Globe Nominations Watch Party

The Golden Globes are Sunday, January 6, and New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to prepare by watching some of the TV shows and movies that made the nomination list. It’s a great excuse to binge watch with friends, and you’ll be more invested in The Golden Globes when they happen the following Sunday. When the clock strikes midnight, hit play on your Grammy nomination playlist!

Total cost: $0 to $30 depending on your television plan and snack needs.

Throw your own event (at a real bar)

As a gal who has produced a lot of events, I’ve learned that NYE can actually be a money-maker, if you play your cards right.

You may be surprised to find out how many local bars and venues wouldn’t mind hosting your dream party. Yes, even at the last minute

Even if you charge a wildly low $5 cover and agree to pay the venue 50 percent of the door money, you’ll be able to pay for all your drinks from ticket sales and still tip the staff generously.

Total cost: If you’re an organized person with a lot of friends, you can actually come out a few hundred dollars ahead. What a great way to start 2019.

The Purge

Much like the movie in which everyone gets their demons out on a designated “Purge Night,” this purge is meant to let you indulge. (To be clear, indulge with food, not human blood.)

Throw a party in which each guest brings a dish they’ll try to swear off in 2019—double mocha chocolate chip brownies, anyone? Everyone gets to pretend sugar, alcohol, and cheese don’t count one last time before heading into the New Year.

Total cost: Approximately $25—whatever is the cost of making your favorite dish!

Slow It Down

On a night that most restaurants are serving rich, heavy meals, you can make one just as satisfying in a slow cooker. In fact, New Year’s Eve is the night for throwing a great cut of meat and fresh vegetables in the pot early in the morning, and letting it simmer all day.

Your dinner will be just as flavorful and filling as anything being served at a fancy restaurant, and at least one third the cost. (Pssst, Here’s a personal favorite recipe.)

Total cost: Approximately $10 per serving.

Do a double feature

There are a lot of movies where New Year’s Eve is a big part of the plot. When planning your double feature, I’d recommend one good one, such as “When Harry Met Sally,” and one bad one to make fun of over drinks with your friends—“New Year’s Evil,” perhaps?

Total cost: $9 total for both digital rentals. Have your friends bring the popcorn.

Throw an ‘Around the World’ party

Throw a house party in which you honor traditions from around the world every hour on the hour, as each part of the globe passes over into 2019.

For example, eat 12 grapes to celebrate New Year’s in Spain. Throw buckets of water out the window as they do in Puerto Rico (try not to hit your neighbors). Bake a coin into a cake and see who gets the “lucky” piece as they do in Bolivia. Carry an empty suitcase around the block as they do to bring good luck in Colombia.

Check out these international ways to celebrate—there’s more than can fit in one New Year’s Eve house party.

Total cost: Split the celebrations with your other guests, and you’ve got a great party for $10 per person.

No matter what you do, just remember that waking up on January 1 with money in your pocket is better than starting off the year broke.

Happy 2019!

By Emily Winter
Emily Winter is a writer and comedian in New York. She's written for TV Land, Glamour and Fusion TV.

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