Monday , October 18 2021

How to plan a New Year’s Eve party on a budget

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Cheap tricks that won’t cramp your style.

CNET editors independently choose every product and service we cover. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. When you apply for products or services through our links, we may earn a commission. The compensation we receive and other factors, such as your location, may impact how ads and links appear on our site.

We are an independent publisher. Our advertisers do not direct our editorial content. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in editorial content are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the advertiser.

To support our work, we are paid in different ways for providing advertising services. For example, some advertisers pay us to display ads, others pay us when you click on certain links, and others pay us when you submit your information to request a quote or other offer details. CNET’s compensation is never tied to whether you purchase an insurance product. We don’t charge you for our services. The compensation we receive and other factors, such as your location, may impact what ads and links appear on our site, and how, where, and in what order ads and links appear.

Our insurance content may include references to or advertisements by our corporate affiliate HomeInsurance.com LLC, a licensed insurance producer (NPN: 8781838). And HomeInsurance.com LLC may receive compensation from third parties if you choose to visit and transact on their website. However, all CNET editorial content is independently researched and developed without regard to our corporate relationship to HomeInsurance.com LLC or its advertiser relationships.

Our content may include summaries of insurance providers, or their products or services. CNET is not an insurance agency or broker. We do not transact in the business of insurance in any manner, and we are not attempting to sell insurance or asking or urging you to apply for a particular kind of insurance from a particular company.

In a digital world, information only matters if it’s timely, relevant, and credible. We promise to do whatever is necessary to get you the information you need when you need it, to make our opinions fair and useful, and to make sure our facts are accurate.

If a popular product is on store shelves, you can count on CNET for immediate commentary and benchmark analysis as soon as possible. We promise to publish credible information we have as soon as we have it, throughout a product’s life cycle, from its first public announcement to any potential recall or emergence of a competing device.

How will we know if we’re fulfilling our mission? We constantly monitor our competition, user activity, and journalistic awards. We scour and scrutinize blogs, sites, aggregators, RSS feeds, and any other available resources, and editors at all levels of our organization continuously review our coverage.

But you’re the final judge. We ask that you inform us whenever you find an error, spot a gap in our coverage, or have any other suggestions for improvement. Readers are part of the CNET family, and the strength of that relationship is the ultimate test of our success. Find out more here.

Uber surges, triple-digit cover charges, crappy champagne bars and dance floors packed with guys named Trent. Oh, and “where the &#@! did Liz just go?!” I think that we can all agree that going anywhere in public on New Year’s Eve can be the absolute worst.

The natural alternative is to throw a New Year’s Eve party so swanky and fun, it’ll make this year’s infinite disasters seem like they never even happened and provide a sliver of hope for the year ahead, even.

OK, great. Sounds like a plan. Only one problem: You bought exactly zero stock in Popeye’s this year and parties — especially cool ones — tend to be expensive. Well, I’m here to tell you they don’t have to be and together we’re going to hack our way to a seriously good New Year’s Eve party on a budget.

Here’s how.

Chances are you’ll want your NYE fête to carry through midnight, so it’s also likely starting late, too. Score! You can get away with heavy apps — which you’re going to slay — in lieu of a full-on meal. But do let guests know so they don’t come expecting five courses.

It’s New Year’s, so you’ll want to do something special but that doesn’t mean you have to max out your credit card at Whole Foods, either. Aim for something fun, fancy and a little unexpected like this crab guacamole on endive.

Cheap trick: Substitute perfectly suitable canned jumbo lump crab to save on crustaceanal costs.

Also, consider this hearty stuffing-stuffed mushroom recipe for your vegetarian friends. They’re filled with actual stuffing, which you can make or buy cheap in a box and doctor up with a few fancy yet affordable additions like sauteed shallots, onions, fresh herbs, toasted nuts or dried fruit.

Or, go with a retro cheese fondue configuration, if you own a set or snag a cheap one like the one below. It’s a uniquely social food and always elicits a hearty giggle or two. Plus, cheese.

 

Shrimp cocktail is painfully overpriced in restaurants but inexpensive (shhh) and relatively easy to make at home and perfect for New Year’s Eve. Get our shrimp cocktail recipe as proof or take things a step further with this prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with smoked paprika. But seriously, make enough or riots will ensue.

Cheap trick: Use regular old bacon in place of prosciutto for an equally delicious, less pricey version of this crowd-pleaser.

Read more on ChowhoundFor more ideas check out these 12 easy holiday party appetizers 

For something snackable and sweet, whip up a batch of these incredible bourbon pecan pie truffles or serve easy champagne sorbet floats for dessert, which are super fun, delicious and very on-theme.

Cheap trick: You don’t need to use expensive sparkling wine for this punch; the sweet sorbet will make bargain bubbles taste great.

 

A sexy New Year’s Eve punch is both economical (as long as you stick to a recipe with a short ingredients list) and fun. Do it right, like with our poinsettia punch recipe and guests will be both drinking it and talking about it all evening. 

Safety tip: Resist the urge to make this stronger than the recipe instructs. 

More like champagne from my real friends. There’s no way around it, you’re going to need champagne and the good stuff ain’t cheap, but this is the perfect thing to ask your guests to bring. Attendees should bring at least as much as they anticipate drinking, so for couples and those who really tip ’em back (looking at you, Aunt Janet), don’t be afraid to suggest they bring a couple of bottles each.

Read more on Chowhound: Your guide to the best champagne bar ever

Stockpile a few yourself just in case, but do some research. A bottle of Gruet Brut is around $15-$18 per bottle and receives consistently high marks from critics. At a slightly higher price, you can sack a few bottles of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc ($32) or Nicolas Feuillatte ($30). Pop and pour the good stuff as everyone gathers around for the ball drop and someone hacks their way through Auld Lang Syne.

  

I’m not here to lecture you on the importance of good music at a party, but believe me when I tell you, nobody wants to hear that Black Eyed Peas song three times, or possibly even once, during the evening.

You have good taste — you know you do — so take some time to put together a fun, thoughtful and lively mix long enough to last all night (plus some) with no repeats. To make it interactive, text some attending friends for a few of their favorite song suggestions and incorporate them accordingly. 

Keep it fun and mix it up and don’t just play your own favorite music. We all love Dark Side of the Moon, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right vibe for a party. Start things off with something smooth, lively and upbeat like Donna Summer, Steely Dan or Janelle Monáe and build towards midnight with more aggressive funk, pop and dance beats. Or just throw on Prince on Pandora or Spotify and call it a year. 

Of course, at the end of the day, music is ultimately a matter of taste so if your crew wants death metal, by god give them death metal. And if you really don’t trust your own sonic abilities, find that one friend who’s always snatching for the aux and ask them to put something together.

Move this great-sounding speaker around to whatever room the party’s in.

Sure, you could just raid Party City for silver and gold balloons, confetti and cardboard kazoos and I suggest you do do that because it’s an inexpensive way to infuse a little shimmer — but be creative. Spring for white or clear helium balloons; with a little coordination, ribbon and balloons of varying sizes you can achieve this trippy champagne bubble effect. Or buy something preassembled like these on Amazon. Here are more New Year’s Even party ideas that make excellent use of LED lights.

 

And why just decorate your place when you can decorate guests, too?

1. Flip through your Rolodex and find that one friend you know loves doing makeup and call them on the sly.

2. Buy something glittery like this.

3. Ask your makeup artist friend to put just a little razzle-dazzle on everyone (yes, everyone) over the course of the evening. It’ll be fun, especially after a few glasses of champagne. Those who resist shall be shunned and banned forever.

4. Turn someone’s iPad into a photo booth and capture the glamour of your very first and very fabulous New Year’s Eve party.

Congratulations. You did it. Happy 2020. Now go to bed, your resolution diet starts in two hours.

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