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Cheap Ways to Celebrate the New Year

file0001856227123It’s the last day of 2012. Have you decided how you will be ringing in the New Year? Restaurants and bars capitalize on one of the busiest nights of the year by jacking up prices for a fixed menu or set number of drinks. If you like that type of event and have already budgeted for it, go have fun. If you have waited until the last minute, but still want to participate in some festivities, here are some cheap ways to celebrate the New Year.

Stay Home and Invite Friends Over

You can avoid the crowds by staying at home. You don’t have to go all out financially to have a great party. It can be BYOB or pot luck. You can dress up or wear pajamas. You don’t even have to invite friends if you don’t want. It’s your house. Do as you please. What can you do for entertainment?

  • Play Board Games
  • Have a Penny Poker Tournament
  • Watch a whole TV series or trilogy of movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Watch your favorite band’s concert DVD
  • Play Pictionary
  • Have an after Christmas white elephant exchange
  • Pull out your pictures from trips and events from the past year and plan for the next one
  • Eat all your favorite foods one last time in 2012. You probably have an eating better resolution anyway.
  • Have everyone bring a drink idea from a different country and have a “Bars Around the World Party”

Be Active

This doesn’t work so great if you don’t have a clear night, but in Colorado, it’s fun to to moonlight snowshoe, sled or cross country ski. If you live somewhere warm and near water, how about a midnight swim or walk on the shore? You can follow it up with a warm hot chocolate with irish cream if you are cold or a fruity drink if you are warm.

Attend a Charity or Church Function

If you aren’t into the bar scene, many charities or churches hold New Year’s Eve functions. It depends on where you live and what your interests are, but there are a wide variety of options for couples, singles, or older kids. Even if there is admission, you’ll know it goes to a good cause.

Plan on a Safe Ride Home

If you do venture out on New Year’s Eve and plan on indulging in a cocktail or two or three, have a plan to get home without getting behind the wheel. Don’t leave it up to your judgement after you’ve started drinking. Whether you have a designated driver, stay within walking distance, or plan to call a cab, don’t take the chance with getting behind the wheel. You have no idea what your blood alcohol level is. Most drunks think they are fine to drive. Could you live with yourself if you hurt someone else? Even if you only get pulled over and charged with a DUI, the cost in fines and classes is usually around $10,000, and many public sector jobs will fire you for an arrest. Makes cab fair seem pretty cheap, huh?


I haven’t been involved in the party scene for so long, I can barely remember what it was like. With a busy five year old, I get up pretty early and usually go to bed by 10PM. If I can make it up until midnight, that will be an achievement in itself. If you have busy days, there is nothing wrong with sleeping in the New Year.

Thank goodness the Mayans were wrong and we get to ring in a New Year! Most of us enjoy a good party, but you don’t have to spend a mint to reach 2013. There are tons of cheap ways to celebrate without breaking your budget.

How are you going to celebrate on New Year’s Eve? 



About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Honestly, I have no plans at this point. New Year’s Eve usually starts with high expectations and ends in disappointment. It’s one of my least favorite holidays.

  2. I went for the super cheap option this year. I stayed home and read personal finance blogs all night. Yay!
    It’s 11:30 now and my wife is in bed sleeping.

  3. I used to look for the most amazing thing to do until 5/6 years ago we went to see the fireworks in London together with 2 million people (felt like 10) which was fun for the 10 min it lasted, but the wait for over one hour in the cold and the three hours ride home because all subway stations were closed was horrible. Now I am happily staying home and enjoying nights out the rest of a year, at a normal price. Happy New Year Kim! Have a nice evening and all the best for 2013.

  4. These are all great ideas! We are going out with friends and bought an open bar package. A little expensive, but it’ll be fun with all of our friends 🙂

  5. We have a 2 year old so we will be staying home as well. And I can bet we will be asleep before midnight 🙂

  6. I plan on sleeping. The new baby has tired my wife and I out and we are just learning on how to be parents. There is nothing special for this new year’s eve!

  7. We plan to see a movie with friends using my discount tickets and have a modest dinner afterwards. We probably won’t even stay up for midnight! Pretty boring, huh? It is okay, I will ride my bike in the morning of the 1st and watch football in the afternoon.

  8. We are just staying home and having a nice dinner. I don’t like to risk my life out on the roads!

    Happy New Year, Kim!!!

  9. My wife recently got a friend hooked on Once Upon a Time and we will be watching Season 1 on DVD. The only time I’ve ever actually gone out for New Years was the year we went up to Boston to visit a friend and went to their First Night celebration. $10 got you admission to all of the events.

  10. We’re doing #1 and #5.

    Also, it’s my birthday and my son’s 1st birthday, so it should be a blast. Heres to hoping I don’t pass out in my robe at 9:47pm in front of the TV…

  11. My personal favorite thing to do is go to a house party except we usually get together with friends we typically haven’t seen in a while which makes it kind of interesting.

  12. We ended up going to a restaurant for food, drinks and dancing. Tickets were $40, food was amazing and unlimited (including seafood!), view was superb, and the DJ was meh. All in all, a good night. We took a cab home for $10.

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