The number one thing you should do when hosting a frugal New Year’s eve party is not call it, a “frugal” New Year’s Eve party. Frugality, unfortunately, carries some baggage. Most people equate frugal with cheap, and no one wants to go to a “cheap” New Year’s Eve party. For us, frugal is about getting the best bang for your buck.
Best doesn’t have to mean “most.” Best can be highest quality, longest lasting, fun-est (fun-est? Frugal spell-check much?). In other words, frugal doesn’t mean cheaping out, it means spending better.
Here are a few ideas to help you balance fun and frugal on New Year’s Eve:
Partner up with another family
Arrange a kids’ and a grown-ups’ area, or come up with activities both groups can enjoy together. Sleepover space for kids (and, let’s be honest, probably grown-ups, too) is key.
Dress up, watch Ocean’s 11 or Casino Royale and play a little Blackjack or Hold’em. Use Monopoly Money and play high stakes so everyone can feel like a big shot. Easily incorporate older kids with a light-hearted line about responsible gambling.
Check out what your city/town has to offer
Most small communities have free family events as part of New Year’s Eve. Our city has fireworks that we go to every year (and because it is darker, they start earlier than in the summer – another bonus).
Do something ordinary, in a different way
The ole’ movie and popcorn to pass the time ’til midnight can be a special event if you pop the corn in a big pot on the stove-top (1/4 cup oil, 1 cup popcorn, salt to taste). Try some retro Jiffy Pop, or (even cooler) use your fireplace. Burning the popcorn as you learn is all part of the fun (so tell the kids to quit teasing you). The whole evening will cost 1/10 of taking the family to the theatre.
B.Y.O. Game Face
If you’re missing the New Year’s bar experience, get the kids on to their event while the grown-ups share in a “bring your favourite cocktail” face off. Break out the Internet cocktail recipes, or concoct your own Flaming Homer.
Create the hottest table in town
In the same vein, a multi-family meal can be super cool- choose a theme/cultural celebration, assign dishes and have people do final preparation and cooking at your house (where possible). Cooking and talking together are all part of the experience and will make the meal all the more fun.
Make it a pentathlon (or decathlon) and see who is the master of the most game skills in your house. It can be console or board game-based, but play lots of different things. Parents – mix them up so that everyone wins at something.
As if it needs elaboration. Cheese, broth, oil, chocolate or all of the above (but not in the same pot – unless you’re a few cocktails in, this probably won’t be appealing). The meal can take hours to cook and eat and any kids can go play while the grown-ups linger and chat.
Remember, frugal isn’t about being cheap – you can spend some money on any of these ideas to punch ’em up a bit to suit your night. No matter what you do at home, it will still cost less than the dinner out, babysitting and a New Year’s ticket for a bar or event. And it will likely be more fun.
What are you doing New Year’s Eve?