13 Cheap Things To Do On New Year’s Eve That Are Proof Having Fun Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

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New Year's Eve has to be one of the most expensive nights of the year. Tickets to fancy events usually cost hundreds of dollars, bars and restaurants inflate their prices (or only offer a very expensive set charge which means that even if you only want two drinks, you have to shell out at least 50 bucks anyway) — and you probably can't get out of town even if you wanted to, because airfare, hotel rates, and train ticket prices are higher too. Even throwing a party at home gets expensive fast — between alcohol, food, and decorations, it all adds up. In summation, it can feel impossible to find cheap things to do on New Year's Eve.

But don't worry — it definitely isn't.

Saving money on NYE doesn't have to mean sitting at home and doing nothing. There are other ways to have a good time without taking a small loan out! Sure, you'll have to shell out some cash, but it won't be too much — everything on this list is reasonably priced, while still super fun and actually worth staying up until midnight for. If you get a little creative, you can find lots of cheaper options that will help you create lots of memories.

1. Go To A Local Fireworks Show

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There are few things more magical than watching fireworks explode in the sky as you count down to 10 on midnight (especially if it's snowing at the same time). Firework shows are usually free, so going to one nearby should cost you next to nothing. And if the local show by you isn't free, find a close spot outside where you can still see them from afar. Put some hot chocolate in a mug, bundle up, and make midnight extra sparkly.

2. Host A Potluck Party

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A lot of people act like hosting a party is a cheaper option than going out, but that's not necessarily true. Hosting means you have to spend money on a lot of food, a lot of drinks, and a lot of midnight accessories. Make your party a little cheaper by turning it into a potluck party! Have each guest bring a dish and drink of their choice so that you don't have to shell out the money for everyone. You'll all have fun, eat lots of good food, and you'll all save a little money.

3. Go Ice Skating

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If you don't mind the colder temperatures, find an ice skating rink nearby that's open on New Year's Eve and go for it. Ice skating is such an adorable winter activity, and there's something really special about it at night. Most rinks are relatively inexpensive, too.

4. Have A Game Night

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If you don't want to throw a party, don't want to go out, but also don't want to do nothing, consider a game night! Invite a few friends or family members over for after-dinner games (so no pricey food bills required!) and offer some interactive game options like Taboo or Headbands (which can be downloaded on your phone). Or, do something old-school, like charades. It's a lot of fun and not too expensive, especially if you already have the games.

5. Throw A Pajama-Themed Dance Party

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One way to make a party a little bit cheaper? Make it a little less fancy. New Year's Eve outfits can get expensive fast, especially if you're going all out on a sparkly dress you'll only wear once and a new pair of heels. Add a blowout to that, and you've already spent a good chunk of change. Instead, try throwing a pajama themed party. It sounds silly, but friends will appreciate feeling comfortable — and not having to shell out big bucks on an outfit.

6. Have A Romantic, Low-Key Date Night

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Spending New Year's Eve with bae? Make it romantic with a low-key date night. Make a small dinner together instead of going out. Rent some fun rom-coms instead of hitting the theater, then watch the ball drop from the comfort of your own couch. Light some candles to make it more cozy, maybe have a little bonfire outside if you can, and talk, laugh, and cuddle the night away.

7. Head To A Dive Bar

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On New Year's Eve, most bars and clubs abandon their drink specials for expensive cover charges and pricey tickets — and sometimes, you can't even get in if you don't pay, or drink if you don't spend the money on the open bar. But a local dive bar? They most likely won't be overcharging customers on Dec. 31. Go to one you feel comfortable at with a few friends, and bring the party — for much less expensive drinks.

8. Skip The Drinking (And The Hangover)

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Not big on beers and shots? No worries. Skipping the alcohol on New Year's Eve will probably save you a lot more money than you think. Instead of ordering lots of drinks, just have fun sober. Or, if you need something, pregame with some stuff you have it home and then go out a little tipsy. Your wallet will thank you, and you'll also thank yourself the next day, when you're not miserable from a hangover.

9. Watch NYE Theme Movies

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Skip all the expensive parties and outfits and settle in for a low-key movie night with a few friends, your significant other, family members, cats, dogs... whatever! If you want to feel the ~mood~ of New Year's, watch NYE themed movies. I suggest When Harry Met Sally if you love rom-coms, Poseidon if you're looking for some action, Money Train for adventure, The Godfather II if you want a classic, and Boogie Nights for the party atmosphere.

10. Hang With Your Parents

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OK, hear me out: your parents are probably a lot more fun than you give them credit for. As someone who spends every New Year's Eve with her family, I can tell you that it's nice to be surrounded by the closest people to you at midnight. Tag along with them if they're going somewhere or just spend the night with them. You'll all appreciate it in the long run.

11. Go To A House Party

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Know anyone who's throwing a party? Go! Has one of your friends extended an invite to a house party they're going to? Tag along! Honestly, you'll probably end up having more fun at someone's house than being crammed inside an overcrowded bar or club, and there's the major bonus of saving lots of cash. You can bring your own drinks, relax a little bit more than you would if you were out, and still meet new people.

12. Have A Wine Night With Friends

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If a few of your friends also don't have plans or are trying to save money, suggest a wine night in. You guys can get a few big bottles of wine for super cheap, and laugh/dance the night away on your own. You'll save the money you would have spent on an outfit and overpriced drinks, and you'll feel comfortable (and very giggly) all night.

13. Search Free Events In Your Area

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Not convinced by any of the suggestions on this list? Do a quick Google search of free NYE events near you. Something is bound to pop up, whether it's a show, a bar boasting inexpensive prices, or some sort of fair. You'll definitely find something, and maybe it will even get you to explore a little bit!