As 2012 rapidly approaches, many of us turn our sights from the holidays to our New Year’s Eve plans. I, for one, do not go out on New Year’s Eve. I find it too expensive, too crowded, and I am terrified of drunk drivers. So I choose to stay home.
I didn’t always feel this way. Back in the day, I went to Times Square, New Year’s Eve concerts, fancy dinners, parties…if you can do it on New Year’s Eve, I’ve probably done it. And I enjoyed every single one of those events. But after I had my daughter, things changed. Her birthday is in December, so that first year, I really didn’t feel like going to the supermarket, never mind going out on New Year’s Eve. My husband and I stayed home, watched a movie, watched the ball drop and then went to bed. Simple, easy, and cheap.
That simpleness, easiness and cheapness caught on. We liked having a small, quiet and inexpensive night, away from the crowds and drunk drivers. Besides, have you ever priced a babysitter for New Year’s? It’s ridiculously expensive. If I’m going to spend $100, I want to spend it on myself, not paying someone to watch my kid for 5 hours when I can stay home and spend time with her for free.  We don’t mind having this night for just our family (although we have expanded it to include my in-laws as my father-in-law’s birthday is New Year’s Day).
I understand that having a small, quiet New Year’s isn’t for everyone. There are lots of people who like to celebrate in a more boisterous, active manner. But what if you want to do that only you can’t afford to, or don’t want to, spend a lot of money doing so? Here are a few ideas for inexpensive New Year’s ideas:

  • Host a party at home. For a small price tag, you can have quite a party at your own home. Decorations can be bought from the Dollar Store and you can ask your guests to bring a dish or drinks. If you want to splurge, you can do a theme party like a Murder Mystery or a costume party. Additionally, if your friends have kids, invite the kids, too, and let the kids have their own party. It saves on babysitting for everyone and prevents the kids from getting bored!
  • Look for free things in your town. Where I live, we have First Night, which is a family friendly event with music, shows, food vendors and the night ends with fireworks. Sure, it doesn’t last until midnight, but it’s something fun to do with the family and it’s really affordable. Also, many cities have their version of the Times Square ball drop. For instance, in Baltimore, they have a crab and in Atlanta, there’s a peach. It may not have the sentimentality of the ball in Times Square, but it’s still fun and free.
  • Have a New Year’s Day party. New Year’s Eve is expensive and maybe you can’t afford to do anything. Maybe you want to have a quiet night at home with a few friends or family. But maybe you still want to have a party. Who’s to say you can’t do it on New Year’s Day instead? When I was a kid, my parent’s friends hosted a New Year’s Day party every year. There would be inexpensive food like chips and soda and sandwiches, and we spent the afternoon hanging out, shooting pool on their pool table, and watching football. It was nice way to celebrate the New Year but in a more quiet, less expensive manner.

What are some of your ideas for an inexpensive New Year’s celebration?