New Year’s Eve – on the cheap and easy

New Year’s Eve can become like Prom Night if you let it: fraught with expectation and pressure. But instead of dropping an extra $150 on a limo ride through the McDonald’s drive-thru, you’re spending an extra $150 on a babysitter. Ugh.

Whitney and I have had a long-standing date on New Year’s Eve and we like to keep it low key. Because, on most nights, staying up until midnight is exciting enough.

Now that children are in the mix, we have had to modify our plans a bit. But not as much as you might think.

Option A: when someone has free childcare.
If you have loving grandparents in town, this is your best option. Absolutely say “yes please” to any offers of free babysitting and get the heck out of your house. Hang out with other friends with kids or pretend you’re still child-free, care-free and awesome.

Option B: A semi-sleepover.
Whitney coined the term, half-sleepover, for our method of putting kids to sleep while our party continues in the other room. Like a true frat boy, Julian never wakes up when he gets transferred to the car.

Since our children are still preschool age and younger, we can get away with an 8:00 bedtime, even on a night as awesome as New Year’s Eve. Find a YouTube video of the ball dropping from last year or of fireworks in Australia to show the kids whenever it’s time for them to head to bed. Let the visiting kids sack out in sleeping bags on the floor (or pack-n-plays). Hope for the best.

Once we’ve put the kids to bed, we try to mix it up so that New Year’s Eve is more special than any other Thursday night we’re stuck at home (while still being cheap and easy). Here are a few ideas:

— A game night. This year, we’ll dazzle our friends with Beatles Rock Band as well as old classic board games. Charades is optional.

— Blind taste test. We’ve done chocolate- and wine-tastings. It is fun to play the critic and determine the group’s favorite.

A fondue party. Guests bring the dippables. You melt the chocolate.

— A movie binge.
I’m hankering for the LOTR trilogy but I won’t subject my guests to that. Maybe if they all go home early.

Need more ideas? Here are a few more suggestions from “Ringing in the New Year on a budget” from an article I contributed to last year because those ideas are timeless.

I’d love to hear other ideas for hosting a cheap and easy (FUN) New Year’s Eve. Please share yours in the comments!