How We’re Frugally Celebrating the New Year

New Year's Eve 2007/8 by a.drian on Flickr!Tomorrow evening, like billions of people around the world, my wife and I will be celebrating the coming new year. Some people celebrate this by having a big New Year’s Eve bash at their home. Others go out to various parties, enjoying the celebrations put on by others. Still others spend the evening quietly at home with their family – or with themselves.

We tend toward the first option. This year, we’re having a small New Year’s event at our own home, but we wanted to keep costs down. Here’s how we’ll be celebrating.

First, we kept our invitation list pretty short. Instead of throwing open the doors and inviting everyone we know, we were very selective in our invitations. We don’t expect a large crowd even if everyone we invited were to show up.

Because our invitation list is short, this means we don’t have a large budget for refreshments or entertainment. Our foods and other party materials will come quite inexpensively, even if we go for high-quality items. Most likely, because of the number of attendees, we’ll make most of our own treats from scratch, further reducing the costs.

Second, in order to keep the intimate gathering from being boring, we chose people that we knew had several overlapping interests. Virtually everyone who is invited immensely enjoys playing Guitar Hero, actually, and only one person has a skill level that’s far out of the range of the others.

This creates a ready-made form of entertainment. When everyone arrives, we just pull out the game and organize a fair rotating basis that allows everyone to play every fifteen minutes or so.

Aside from that, almost everyone invited is also at least somewhat skilled at a musical instrument (yes, these people recognize that Guitar Hero is a fun game but a distinctly different activity than playing an actual instrument). So we encouraged people to bring their own musical instruments to our event so that they could jam together.

In short, much of our entertainment is taken care of and the people invited will naturally fit right into the group – with almost no cost.

Finally, we requested that each guest bring a bottle or two of wine. This saves us the cost of providing much of the beverages. We will have some other beverages on hand, of course, but the biggest expense would have easily been several bottles of wine for our guests.

We also plan on making simple foods that are easy to serve yourself. A large batch of chili? Check. An assortment of “serve-yourself” finger foods? Check. We’ll just rotate the finger foods regularly to keep them fresh.

A basic chili recipe is quite simple – all you really need are plenty of beans, chili powder, some onion, and some meat, along with “fixings” (crackers, cheese, etc.). For the finger foods, we plan on utilizing several of our usual Christmas gifts – we almost always wind up with some summer sausage, some cheeses, some crackers, and the like, so this is a great time to share and use these items.

The end result? A pleasant gathering of people with similar interests to celebrate the new year that will only cost the hosts a few dollars in expense. A frugal way to ring in the new year, indeed.