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New Year’s celebrations can still be fun on a budget

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Revelers celebrate in New York’s Times Square on Jan. 1.

It’s the party of the year, for those who like to party, but what happens when your New Year’s Eve dreams are too big for your bank? There are lots of ways to cut corners and still have loads of fun. You need a little imagination, possibly some elbow grease and the willingness to compromise.

Among the first things to consider is budget. Have one and stick to it, said personal finance expert Rachel Cruze. Without a bottom line, she said, it’s too easy to hop from shop to shop dropping $10 here and $20 there. And pay with cash to stay on track.

If the goal is to go out, look for places that aren’t charging extra for special New Year’s packages. Some venues may be hosting a big-ticket party in one spot and opening another area on the cheap.

As for fancy duds, party attire can be rented, and trendy pieces are plentiful at lower prices. Or throw a no-pressure pajama party at home.

The key, overall, when trying to save your New Year’s Eve bucks is to forget about the Joneses, Cruze said. “Comparing yourself, and your New Year’s plans, to others not only steals your joy but also your paycheck,” she said.

On the subject of spirits, not all less-expensive Champagnes are swill. And there’s always the prosecco or cava options. If you can’t give up the idea of Champagne altogether and are hosting a party, do a punch instead of serving glassfuls or save the bubbly for midnight.

Depending on your style, hosting doesn’t have to cost a lot. Do “sweets and treats” rather than a full meal, go for a potluck or get crafty with decorations you already own, said Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert for the deals site RetailMeNot.

“Repurpose your Christmas tinsel and string lights,” she said. “Tack up some tinsel and twinkly lights around main doorways within the party area or gift wrap a wall for a festive photo opp.”

Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert, said don’t be afraid to ask guests to BYOB. Most of your friends ask what they can bring anyway, so why not say bring your favorite drink, whether it’s beer, wine or liquor with a mixer, she said.

“If you prefer to provide the booze, as many do, don’t stock a full bar,” Woroch suggested. “That will become incredibly pricey, especially since you can’t predict what everyone will want to drink and how much of it they will consume.”

Pick a signature cocktail to serve instead, along with beer and wine. For food, make it a dessert party or go with a burger bar rather than multiple dishes or passed trays. Try doing finger foods and a cookie swap to help save money.

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