Celebrating the old and looking forward to what lies ahead sometimes inspires people to plan elaborate parties, but party supplies and decorations can be expensive. By using some items you already own, prioritizing what you do purchase, and arming yourself with some money-saving strategies, you can throw an amazing party on a small budget.
Festive Yet Frugal Decorations
Decorations, such as centerpieces, do a lot to create a festive environment for a party; unfortunately, they can be very expensive. Purchase some inexpensive decoration and make some yourself to keep costs down.
Inexpensive Commercial Decorations
Prioritize what you buy and keep an eye on the overall cost, too.
- Party hats - Though not traditionally considered a party decoration, party hats can be used to decorate a New Year's party and can double as a party favor for guests. Fill a whole table with fun, colorful party hats which will bring a pop of color to the party venue or put a hat at each guest's place and use as their place card. Purchase party hats inexpensively at party stores or from low-priced stores, like the Dollar Tree, for about $1 each. You could also make party hat using poster board, rolled into a cone shape, stapled, and decorated with stickers, markers, paint, and ribbon.
- Glow sticks - Glow in the dark items, such as glow sticks, can create cool decorations, especially when you dim the lights for a dance party just before the start of the new year. Break all the glow sticks just prior to when guests arrive as they tend to fade after a few hours. You can put the glow sticks in groups in a vase or put a glue stick in a balloon, blow-up the balloon, and tie it off. Then hang it upside down from the ceiling. Make several of them to hang from the ceiling of the party venue. Glow sticks are often sold in groups of a dozen or more; pick up a package of 100 for less than $13 at Walmart.
- Paper countdown clocks -- Clocks are often associated with New Year's so think about using them in your decorations. Tissue paper clocks from Oriental Trading are colorful, lightweight, and inexpensive, coming in at under $6 for a single three piece set. Hang them on walls or in windows. You could also hang them from the ceiling on a piece of ribbon or invisible thread. Because they are lightweight, they are easy to hang and if they are suspended from the air, they will twirl and spin.
One effective way to save money on decorations is to make your own.
- Gold or glitter bottles and vases - Save and collect various glass bottles, such as wine and beer bottles, or buy some inexpensive bottles for the craft. You can also use various types of vases. Simply spray paint the bottles or vases with gold paint. You can also sprinkle them with gold glitter after you've painted them. The bottles and vases can simply be grouped as a table decoration or can be used to hold other decorative items. Fill the bottles or vases with flowers or use them to hold another decorative item such as balloons on a stick.
- Decorative year numbers - Celebrate the upcoming year with displaying the year in large, decorative numbers. Cut out the numbers of the upcoming year out of poster board or cardboard. Then paint the numbers, cover them with glue and glitter, or wrap them in yarn. You can display these on a table or hang them on the wall.
- Glitter balloons - One way to create a very festive look at a very inexpensive price is with balloons. Blow-up a balloon, use a paint brush to add white craft glue to the top half of the balloon, and sprinkle glitter on it. Allow the balloon to dry and then hang it from a ribbon from the ceiling. Repeat this process using various colored balloons and glitter combinations.
Basic Paper Goods
Basic paper party supplies can be a real waste of money because you are literally throwing money away every time you dispose of a paper plate or cup.
Do not waste money on traditional paper invitations, but rather, use an email invitation service such as evite. This type of invitation may have been considered inappropriate at one point, but in this day of technical advancement, email invitations are much more acceptable. If you want to host a more formal party, use free printable New Year's Eve invitations to save on costs.
Paper Plates and Place Settings
Buying basic party goods is a good investment for parties. Buying plates, napkins and cups with a New Year's Eve theme can be festive, but also expensive. Instead of spending money on these types of goods or settling for plain white, consider buying plain paper goods in festive colors. If you have generic-looking paper plates leftover from other events, mix and match for an eclectic look.
Just because you are trying to save money doesn't mean that it has to be boring. You can even add star stickers to cups to make them look more festive. Or you might consider buying something festive like the Cheers abstract dots paper plates from Zazzle that cost less than $2 for eight.
If you want to save money on food, use your plates to help by choosing slightly smaller plates. People tend to eat less when they have a smaller plate than when served with a larger one.
Plastic table cloths can be purchased for only a dollar a piece from big box stores, party supply stores, and the dollar store. These cloths come in a variety of colors to match any color scheme. You can mix and match colors to give more visual variety. For around $2 per cloth, purchase the gold table cloths from Party City which adds some glitter to a table set with plain paper goods.
Cost Effective Activities and Supplies
You don't have to spend a lot of money to entertain your New Year's Eve guests. Keep them busy and happy with some simple things such as board games, a competitive game of backyard football, or a slide show of photos of friends and family from the previous year.
New Year Prediction Supplies
Speculate about what is going to happen in the coming year. Choose photos and images from magazines and from your own collections (printed). Then mount them onto construction paper or cardboard that you all ready have at home. Hold the photos up one at a time and have each guest write down their prediction for that person, place or thing in the coming year.
For example, you could show a picture of a celebrity that has been in the news in the past year and ask guests to make predictions about his/her career, marriage, divorce, babies and scandals. In the end, have everyone read their predictions and allow all the guests to vote on who had the most like most likely, the funniest, or the strangest prediction.
Photo Booth Supplies
Photo booths are now a standard at most parties and gatherings. Use a metallic fringed table skirt from Shindigz for less than $10 as your backdrop, or simply use a plain wall which costs nothing. Provide props you all ready have around the house such as funny hats and sunglasses. Guests can also wear their party hats and you can pick up stick props at Oriental Trading for about $7 for a dozen. Allow guests to use their own cameras and smart phones to take their photos.
Count Your Blessings Board
As much as New Year's is about looking forward to the future, it is about reflecting on the past. Provide guests with index cards and markers, both available at your local dollar store, and ask them to write their best blessing or favorite memory of the past year. Then provide a cork board and tacks or a poster board and tape for them to display their blessings. If you have children at your party, you could also provide stickers and glitter glue so they can embellish their cards.
Noisemakers and Streamers
Ring in the new year with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Find a variety of different types of noisemakers at big box, party, and dollar stores. Consider picking up Century Novelty's foil horns for under a dollar.
Hosts with a little more room in the budget due to other savings can purchase hand thrown streamers for guests from Save On Crafts. They will provide a little fun and a memorable way to welcome in the New Year for around $20 for six. If your budget doesn't allow for this idea, create a similar effect by buying crepe paper streamers for less than $3 each from MyPartyWarehouse.com and make your own. Cut 3 foot lengths of streamers and roll them, then secure them with a small piece of tape. Give each guest one and at midnight, they can break the tape seal, hold the end, and throw the streamer up in the air.
There's no need to pay for a live band when you can create a play list of popular music and some New Year's Eve songs. Just hook up your cell phone mp3 player or iPod and play your favorite tunes. Don't forget to include Auld Lang Syne (New Years Eve Song) for when the clock strikes midnight!
Food and Drinks
Food and drinks can be a big budget buster, but with some planning, it can be very affordable to put on a nice spread. Always try to shop sales and with coupons when shopping for party foods.
To save money on your party, ask friends and family to bring a dish to share. Most guests will be willing to bring something, just so they can be a part of the festivities. Provide the main dish and the drinks, then ask guests to provide a vegetable, fruit, dessert, or other side. Use a free printable sign up sheet to keep track of what everyone is bringing.
Buffet style meals are popular for New Year's Eve parties. Set-up your buffet the same way caterers and buffet restaurants do, with the inexpensive and most filling food at the start of the buffet line. Inexpensive foods such as pastas, bread, and popcorn can help to fill guests tummies without breaking the bank. Rice, which goes with multiple meals, is cheap and can easily be seasoned to suit your tastes. Use inexpensive cuts of chicken, like thighs and drumsticks, instead of chicken breasts, as the main dish.
If you want to serve more expensive cocktail party foods such as meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables, don't buy prepared trays. Instead, buy your own foods and create your own trays. Though this might be time-consuming, it is friendly on the wallet.
Sit Down Meals
A sit down meal can be pricer than buffet style meals because typically higher quality foods and more courses are expected. But making good menu choices can really help to stretch your budget.
- Spaghetti can be an inexpensive meal choice if you use basic ingredients. Simply use the pasta noodles and cans of pasta sauce to create your meal. If the budget allows, add cheese, vegetables or meat, but these ingredients are not necessary.
- Consider serving a vegetarian lasagna to help save some money since vegetarian meals tend to be less expensive than meat-based dishes. Lasagna is fairly inexpensive meal because it is filling, therefore portion sizes can remain small.
Providing a lot of side dishes is also not expected with spaghetti or lasagna. Pair them both with a lettuce salad or garlic bread to complete the meal.
Drinks can be very expensive. Skip sodas, juices, and other pricey beverages. Instead, serve ice water with lemon slices, punch, coffee, iced tea, and perhaps some lemonade. If you want to serve alcohol, save that for the midnight toast to limit consumption.
Desserts are most people's favorite part of the meal. Visit your local dollar store to purchase a few different types of cookies, which are sold in whole packages for only a dollar. You can use these cookies to create a colorful and tasty tray which is perfect for a buffet.
Another way to provide a nice, but cheap dessert is to purchase cake mixes and cans of frosting. Bake them into a larger cake and sprinkle edible glitter on top for a festive way to end a seated meal.
Having a bash to ring in the New Year can be a fun way to bond with family and friends, but don't worry about spending hundred of dollars. Don't throw a bigger or more expensive party than what you can actually afford or feel the need to keep up with the neighbors. The most important part of the celebration is spending quality time with those you love.