So you want to throw a cute, yet casual party to ring in the New Year, but you're not sure where to start. This guide will take you through everything you need to know — the decor, food, drinks, dessert, entertainment, and more — with options to keep the whole party budget under $125 and enough ingredients to feed four to six people.

Need more New Year's Eve help? We have a playlist to set the mood, a roundup of games to play, and the best budget sparkling wines you should be popping. 

Set the vibe with decor (budget $17 - $50)

You want to make the space feel cozy and warm, but not so cozy that no one wants to party. You don't want anyone falling asleep before midnight. Repurpose all your twinkly lights from the holidays one last time by stringing them up through your entire living room. 


Throw a tablecloth over your table (or coffee table) as the centerpiece of it all. This one from Amazon has a cozy cottage core vibe I'm obsessed with.

Rustic Table Cloth, $21.99

Image by Amazon

If you don't want to splurge on a new one, opt for a roll of craft paper ($11), and make your own designs with some markers. It also makes cleanup way easier. 

For dish ware, a mishmash of plates, bowls, and silverware of all patterns, sizes, and colors will give a rustic, collected look. You can use what you already have, and ask friends to bring what you need. Up the cozy factor with lots of candles. You can splurge on these asparagus taper candles or some cheese candles from Amazon. Or light up tons of tea candles. Here's a pack of 12 for $6.

Asparagus Taper Candles, $16 for two

Image by Artifaqt

Cheese Shaped Scented Candle, $12.99

Image by Amazon

What to serve — for food (budget $60)

I know you'll be serving looks all night, but what about when you and your party crew get hungry? You want to keep it easy, both for you and your guests.

Apps and snacks

Have out some grazing boards — the classic charcuterie board (here's how to make it look just as good as it will taste), hummus, cucumbers, grape leaves, crackers — stuff for people to munch on ($25). You can also lean on your party-goers here. Have everyone bring their favorite meat, cheese, or snack to make the ultimate board and help you wallet. But even without their help, you can pick up a block of cheese for $5 to $7, a pre-sliced salami for $5, a bag of mixed nuts for $5, and crackers and a baguette for $5 to $7.

Ali McCarthy

The main meal

What's a meal that's easy on you — the host — super delicious (and Instagrammable), can be made ahead of time, and is fun for your friends? Well, that would be fondue. We have a whole guide to how to make fondue with tons of types of cheeses. A few pounds of apples will cost about $5, two types of cheese are $10, a bottle of wine for $10 (see below for how to use it for drinks). 

Image by Flora Huynh

You can throw it together ahead of time — shred all your cheeses, mix it with the cornstarch, slowly fold it into the simmering wine, and just keep it on low heat until the party arrives. Chop up tons of bread (from the grazing board) and apples (coat in a little lemon juice so they don't brown), and bring over what's left from the charcuterie board. Scatter skewers and napkins around the table, and dip away.


Keep the dipping dinner going with chocolate fondue. Here's our recipe. Cut up bananas and strawberries, sprinkle marshmallows around the table, and add some fresh skewers. Bananas and strawberries will cost around $7, with the marshmallows around $1, and the chocolate around $3.

Make a DIY cocktail (or mocktail) table ($45)


Pull out all your liquors and organize them beautifully on your bar cart. Add in the wine from earlier and splurge on a bottle of vodka for $15. Pick up bottles of lemonade, cranberry juice, sparkling water, and orange juice for about $15. Slice up lemons, limes, and oranges, and artfully arrange herbs and berries for garnish for about $15. If you have extra time and budget, throw together these champagne jello shots. Drinks done!