Aside from Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve is possibly the most over-hyped night of the year. Everything seems to be double its usual price, you’ll spend most of your night in the queue for the bar (or the toilet), and the hangover is just never worth it.
So to save you from another financial hangover come the 1st January (we can’t promise you won’t have a pounding head - that one’s on you), we’ve done your research for you. These are our top tips for making the most of a memorable New Year’s Eve without breaking the bank.
Let’s face it: going anywhere on December 31st is bound to be cold, busy and a bit of an anti-climax. Our clever ideas for making a night of it in your own home just made the old ‘go big or go home’ conundrum a little easier.
Dinner out could easily set you back £150+, as most restaurants offer special set menus, tasting menus and hefty entertainment charges on the night. Instead, host a dinner party at home and ask everyone to bring a different course (or a different kind of canapé, if you’re doing drinks and nibbles) to spread the cost.
If you’re happy to do all the cooking - and foot the bill - yourself, there are plenty of cheap menu options your guests will still love. As delicious and impressive as it might be, homemade beef wellington doesn’t come cheap. If you’ve got a group of people coming round, opt for something you can make a lot of, easily. A curry always goes down well, or try a MOB Kitchen recipe - each one is designed to feed four for under a tenner, so just multiply as needed.
If lining your stomach isn’t a priority, just have a house party. Make it BYOB and ask everyone to contribute a song to a New Year’s Spotify playlist, so you can cross DJ costs off your growing to-do list. And to drink, try Aldi’s ‘no hangover’ prosecco (it’s £7.99 a bottle and guarantees to save you from a crippling headache the morning after).
Or why not host your own fireworks show? This is dependant on you having a garden, of course. You can pick up fireworks fairly cheaply from the major supermarkets, just remember the cut off for setting off fireworks is 1am on NYE. And always have a sensible adult handle the fireworks - excessive booze, tipsy bystanders and DIY fireworks can be a recipe for disaster. Read up on the laws around fireworks here.
Not convinced a night in will cut it this year? Luckily for you, we’ve prepared for all occasions. These are our favourite tips and tricks if you’re braving a New Year’s night out.
Book a table at a venue of your choice as close as possible to midnight. That way, you can pre-drink beforehand and still enjoy the atmosphere of a bar or pub without splashing your cash on overpriced doubles for hours on end. And check out these cheap or free events across the capital if you’re keen to avoid those pesky entry fees.
If it’s food you’re after, whereas most of London’s offerings are eye-wateringly expensive, we think Market Hall’s offering in Victoria and Fulham is fantastic value for money. £35 will get you a glass of bubbles on arrival and non-stop entertainment from 7.30pm - 2am. Or East London’s Berber & Q Grill House are putting on a Moroccan-themed five course feast plus DJs, which will set you back £54. With restaurants like this one charging a whopping £395 per person, anything around the £50 mark is a bit of a steal.
Been seriously put off heading to Winter Wonderland because of the unbearable crowds? We don’t blame you. But now’s your chance! The magical Christmas-themed market is open until 6th January this year. And with everyone else heading to the pub, it’s bound to be considerably emptier than the rest of December.
If you’ll be toasting the New Year in Manchester, feast your eyes on these NYE meals and events. You can get dinner with bottomless booze for £29.95 at the Banyan Bar and Kitchen, which sounds like a no-brainer to us.
If you’re in Birmingham, check out the best happenings here. Or get yourself a ticket to The Button Factory’s celebrations. For just £40, you could enjoy a taco takeover, followed by bottomless bingo and a DJ battle until 2am.
You can’t go wrong with the Cirque Du Disco NYE Party in Cardiff. Head to Depot in Wales’ capital for a night of 60s, 70s and 80s funk music and an unholy amount of glitter - tickets start at just £10. Or you’ll find plenty more options here.
Wherever you’re heading, saving the pennies on transport means you can spend more on drinks!
If your plans are London-based, don’t forget that the tube is free between 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve and 4.30am on New Year’s Day. Taxis have started charging everyone an extra £4 after 8pm on NYE, and the surge on Uber will probably be through the roof (don’t end up like this guy who woke up to a $1,100 Uber receipt on New Year’s Day).
And if you’ve not heard of ViaVan, where have you been? It’s newer and less well known than its global counterpart, which means you’ll have a higher chance of flagging down a cab on one of the busiest nights of the year. Plus, if you recommend a friend you’ll both get a free ride, so you’re sorted to and from your New Year’s destination of choice.
The more organised of you out there can skip this section, smug in the knowledge that your New Year’s escape was planned meticulously in May. If that’s not you, keep reading.
If you fancy a break from the NYE hype, hit search on skyscanner for flights to ‘everywhere’. They’ll show you the cheapest flights to destinations around the world. Bear in mind that flying on NYE itself is the cheapest time to travel, so if you’re not bothered about celebrating but still fancy a holiday, this could be your best option.
The other option is staying local. How about a cosy airbnb in the countryside with a group of friends or family? While the prices are still inflated at this time of year, they’re likely to be considerably less than a hotel. You could find a huge home, like this beautiful beach house which sleeps 8 people, and split the cost between you all. Or what about this converted 12th Century Abbey, fit for you and 14 lucky others? Fill the car with food and booze, and don’t forget your wellies for plenty of wet, windy walks to suppress that hangover.
Give something back
If you’re looking for an alternative (and completely free) way to spend NYE, this one’s for you. People tend to be very generous with their time over the festive period, but what happens when the high spirits slow? Volunteering isn’t just for Christmas.
Crisis, the charity working to end homelessness, opens a number of day centres and rough sleeper shelters across the country over the Christmas period. These sleeper centres need cleaning and returning to normal use at the end of December, so if you’d like to get involved, sign up to volunteer for Crisis.
Homeless shelters aren’t the only charities that could use a hand this New Year’s Eve. Hospitals, care homes and animal shelters tend to be the less popular choices when it comes to donating your time. Head to VolunteerMatch to see which charities near you are looking for support.
If none of those take your fancy and you’re a London local, the city is looking for volunteers for the biggest fireworks display of the year. Apply here if you’d like to be on hand to help some of the 100,000 people due to attend the display this year.