The holiday season is a time for celebrating with friends and family, but it can also wallop our wallets. So, to help you ring in the new year in a fabulous way without overspending, we’ve turned to two party experts. Andrea Hanifen is manager of event sales with Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality and Gina Humilde is an event planner. Both have generously agreed to share their best tips for getting the most bang for your New Year’s Eve bash buck.

Size it up

You don't have to throw a huge party to make amazing memories, so lower your spending by hosting an intimate event, suggests Hanifen. “This way you can enjoy all of your guests’ company, and cut down on overall costs,” she explains. With smaller parties, it’s especially important to make sure those you’re inviting will get along well, so consider that element carefully, adds Humilde.

It's time to shine!

New Year’s Eve is a great time to make your home super sparkly, say Hanifen and Humilde.

Hanifen suggests keeping up most of your holiday décor, but adding a few special items to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Luckily, holiday decorations go on sale right after Christmas, so on Boxing Day, go on the hunt for silver or gold garland, white fairy lights, candles and other sparkly items that can do dual-purpose as New Year’s Eve decor at a discounted price. It’s also a good idea to invest in a few things that you can reuse year after year. And don’t pass by the dollar store without stopping in, as Hanifen notes it’s definitely your friend for this kind of decoration.

Eat and be merry!

Food and drink can be a huge hit to your budget, but with smart planning, you can definitely feed people without spending a lot. The first tip is to put a limit on expectations. Hanifen says if you choose a later start time, say 7 o’clock or 8, your guests won’t expect a full meal.

But what to make? Humilde suggests keeping the nosh all in one place so people can serve themselves. And she loves finger foods that people can pick at on their own time, like charcuterie platters. She also recommends prepping a bunch of apps ahead of time that you can pop in the oven as your guests arrive so everything is nice and warm. Try this delicious veggie twist on a classic: Figs-in-a-Blanket.

Another option that Hanifen likes is to create a carving station. “You can do something a little more large format, like roast beef or beef tenderloin or something that has a bunch of accoutrements with it like buns and spreads and all of that kind of stuff that’s easy to keep filling up, but it’s still nice and hearty,” she suggests. This Slow-roasted Beef Tenderloin recipe would fit the bill!

Most guests expect to BYOB, so it’s an easy ask, which means you don’t have to spend a lot there, but it’s nice to provide a signature cocktail, says Hanifen, and champagne for a midnight toast.

For your special drink, Hanifen says the way to go is something you can make ahead of time. “We’re big fans of doing pre-batched cocktails because it can be really approachable to everyone, and it can be a beautiful feature of a centre of your table or bar,” she says. “And then you’re not stuck making a signature cocktail on a case-by-case basis for each person. You just leave it out.” One way to make it extra lovely, she says, is to create an ice ring in a Bundt pan filled with garnish that complements your drink, like fruit or herbs. You place the ring in the punch bowl, and it keeps everything cold without watering it down since it melts slowly.

Not sure what kind of drink to make? Here are 8 pre-batched cocktail recipes.

Consider offering a mocktail for those who abstain from alcohol, notes Humilde.

Hanifen says a coffee station, with liqueurs people can choose to use, or not, is a nice touch that will help people stay up until midnight. It’s especially a good call if some of your guests are sleep-deprived parents.

Whatever you decide to serve, make sure to check the Flipp app for deals!

What to do

You don't have to totally plan out the evening in terms of activities, as your guests will likely be entertained by chatting with each other. But picking the right music is important. If you don’t have a friend who can DJ, then you can turn to music services to help you out with this. “Spotify is a DJ in a pocket, so find a great playlist,” suggests Humilde.

People love to show off their New Year’s outfits, and share pics of their kids if little ones are invited, so make sure to provide plenty of photo ops. “Creating your own homemade photo booth is really easy, and you can find so much inspiration on sites like Pinterest that you can recreate using those inexpensive items you find when you’re shopping those sales,” explains Hanifen. “You can set up an iPad or a tablet, or use a Polaroid camera, or just have people use their phones — and definitely bonus points for adding in New Year’s Eve props.”

Humilde says a balloon wall, especially one with foil balloons that spell out 2019, is one fun way to create an Instagramable moment. “Buy balloons, blow them up in different sizes, ranging from big, medium and small, and then start sticking them on your wall with tape or sticky tac,” she suggests. “Keep in mind that it is a photo, so create more of a frame, like a balloon arch at the top, for your guests to use.”

If there are kids at the party, Humilde recommends creating a craft area just for them. “It makes them feel special,” she says. So, set out some New Year’s Eve hats for them to decorate.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to have a plan for midnight, whether, as Humilde suggests, that means turning on a countdown on TV around 11:30, or something a bit more elaborate. Hanifen recommends creating a countdown station. “You can have vases of sparklers ready to go with candles lit so that everyone can easily light them right before midnight, small packages of confetti, which are very easy to DIY with leftover wrapping paper, and a bowl of mints for your New Year’s Eve kiss,” she says. And make sure to set out the champagne!