A surprising number of people have asked me how Sarah and I celebrate New Year’s Eve with a frugal touch, so I thought I’d share our celebration plans. They’re pretty similar to what we’ve done the last few years.
Hosting a party We host a New Year’s party on a rotating basis with some of our friends. We don’t go “out on the town” or to any sort of public gathering for our party, since the goal of the night is to spend time with friends enjoying each other’s company and reflecting on the year that has passed and the year to come.
We usually just tell people to come whenever they’d like, but let us know whether or not they’ll be present for dinner.
Food and beverages We usually request that our guests bring some sort of food item or beverage to the party. If they’re coming for dinner, we usually ask that they bring something that will fit with the meal.
We get semi-specific with the requests. We’ll tell people to bring a side dish that will go well with whatever our main dish is, to bring a specific type of beverage, or to bring a finger food to snack on. That way, we can plan around what our guests will bring, filling in the gaps.
Some of our friends bring multiple things as a matter of course, which is helpful.
We stick with simple fare for the meals. A pot of chili is quite likely, for example, with a few accompaniments available such as shredded cheese and oyster crackers. A pot of chili can also be prepared in advance, meaning we can maximize our time with our guests while the chili simmers. For finger foods, we usually encourage our friends to bring things they find yummy.
Entertainment Usually, there are several avenues of entertainment available. We usually have a movie rotation going on in the family room along with board and card gaming going on at tables in the dining room and the sitting room. All of these forms of entertainment are free, so there’s no additional cost to us.
We usually have something of a schedule for each so that people can choose to jump back and forth between the things to do pretty easily. We usually say we’re going to start longer games at a time that coincides with the end of one of the movies. For example, let’s say people are watching The Return of the King in the basement and it’s going to get done at 9:30. We’ll usually hold off on starting any big games until 9:45 or so, allowing the movie-goers to jump into games.
This schedule isn’t hard and fast. Usually, we’ll just say that a particular movie might be showing starting in a few minutes – at, say, 6:30. That movie is two hours long, so it’ll be done at 8:30. Thus, we’ll say we’re going to start games of Chaos in the Old World and Ticket to Ride right now, then play some shorter games until 8:30 or so, at which point we’ll pick a new movie and new games to watch.
We also sometimes mix in video games. Rock Band tends to be a group hit.
Children We usually assign the children to one room for most of the evening. Since there’s usually a surfeit of new Christmas toys on hand, they can usually find entertainment. We also usually have a number of Nintendo DS consoles in the room along with copies of Mario Kart, which enables several children to play competitively at once. This does a great job of keeping somewhat older kids entertained.
Often, we’ll have one adult on “kid duty,” meaning they handle requests and minor problems from the children and usually facilitates “bedtime,” which basically turns into a giant slumber party. The adult on “kid duty” does rotate.
Our New Year’s celebration results in an inexpensive and fun time for quite a few adults. It’s something you can easily replicate with your own celebration, too.