NYE with the kids: If you have young children, look into daytime activities. A lot of museums have special events, some even for free, for kids on New Year’s Eve. For examples, the Balloon Drop at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, lets kid celebrate midnight around the world with a countdown and balloon drop at 11 am, 1 pm and 4 pm. Kids can catch balloons and receive prizes.
Culture Craving: Check with your local performing arts centers, opera houses and theatres for discounted tickets. Many times you will be able to buy standing room only tickets for about 10 bucks!
Skip the driving: Check for extended public transportation hours. Many buses and trains will offer extended hours on New Year’s Eve (some may even offer free rides). That way you can save on parking costs and the hassle of driving which is especially handy if you live right outside of a major city.
Blackjack anyone? If you want to throw a party at home, choose a theme to make it special like casino night. As guests arrive give them each an equal amount of play money. Set up casino favorites like black jack and poker, board games and dice games. Grant a prize to the player who has the highest winnings by midnight. You can have a buffet dinner to add to the casino theme, make it a potluck to split up costs.
Black is best: Instead of spending all your money on a shimmery, sequined New Year’s Dress you may only be able to wear once, buy something that is wearable year-round (nothing beats a black dress) and accessorize to make it festive. Aside from jewelry and hats, tights are an easy way to make an outfit unique, they come in every color, pattern and texture and you can find them for under $10. Stores that sell discontinued or overstock merchandise are a great place to look.
Ask before you pay: If you are paying for a party in a big city where there is a fireworks show, concert or some other outdoor celebration at midnight, you should ask about in and out privileges. Otherwise you may be paying $200+ to watch the celebration from a television set.
When to splurge: Consider Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, as an inexpensive alternative to champagne. You can also add a fruit puree and turn it into a Bellini for a more luxurious drink. Save a bottle of champagne for midnight to make the celebration special.