It's about time to dig out the streamers, buy some new noisemakers and prepare to watch all of those crazy people squeeze into Times Square to watch the ball drop. Out with the old and in with the new, as they say. If part of your celebrations include hosting a New Year's Eve bash, you understand that along with St. Patrick's Day, the Super Bowl, and for some, most of the summer, New Year's Eve is probably the biggest drinking night of the year. If you're recreating Times Square in your home, you're going to need some alcohol and that's expensive. (To help your next party, read Ways To Budget For A New Year's Party.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Just like any party, it's important to remember that most people will not know or even care where you purchased the supplies or what you paid for them, so don't hesitate to do some bargain shopping. Here are some ideas.
Ditch the Full Bar
Anybody who expects to come to your home and find a fully-stocked bar as they would find at a restaurant has unrealistic expectations. Courteous guests will gladly accept what you have on hand. Go with the essentials. A red and white wine, a few beers and maybe one or two fun, mixed drinks will be plenty.
Buy the House Liquor
Purchasing the premium brand liquors will break any budget you were hoping to adhere to, so purchase what would be called a "house brand" at a restaurant. If you have a palette for liquors, find an off-brand that tastes good. Going with the cheapest may not be the best idea but you could always ask your favorite restaurant what they use. (For more, see Host A Holiday Party For Less.)
Purchase a Case
If your party is large enough, purchase a case instead of singles. Even if you have to buy a little more than you think you'll need, you may still save money. Head to your favorite restaurant where they know you by name and ask them if they would give you a good price on a case. Sometimes they're happy to sell it to you close to the wholesale price since they may get price breaks from their supplier as their purchasing volume increases.
Serve a Punch
Get out your big party bowl, go online and find a recipe where everybody has commented on how amazing it is and then test it out before the party. If it tastes good, you now have a low-cost way to serve alcohol on a budget. You can make your punch as alcohol-heavy or light as you would like it to be.
Ditch the Champagne
Champagne sales are up and according to the Wall Street Journal that means the economy is improving, but that doesn't mean you have to help the economy by purchasing expensive champagne. You can get the same effect with sparkling wine, and by the time the ball actually drops, your guests may be too intoxicated to care about what they're drinking anyway.
The Bottom Line
Kim Kardashian is reportedly hosting a $20,000 per person New Year's Eve party this year, but unless you're inviting Hollywood's A-list to your party, it's doubtful that your guests are expecting extravagance. They're probably grateful that you provided a fun evening where they could catch up with old friends and meet new ones. (To help your portfolio in the new year, read Financial New Year's Resolutions You Can Keep.)
Don't forget: Be a responsible party host and take the car keys if necessary.