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It's cool to host a big party on New Year's Eve, but please-oh-please don't go broke in the process. Everyone loves a generous host, but I think we can all agree it is most definitely not cool to begin 2010 with a bundle of new credit card debt.

Hosting a soiree on the 31st? If so, here are 5 simple ways to drastically cut party spending without looking like a cheapskate.

1. Food and Drink Decisions. Serve either snacks with drinks OR desserts with drinks. This is waay cheaper than putting out an entire dinner spread for everyone. Also, remember if you start the party at around 8 or 9pm guests won't be expecting a full dinner spread anyway. If you want to kick things off earlier with dinner at 6 or 7pm, consider going pot luck-style.

2. Smart Apps.
Go for bite-size, inexpensive appetizers. Most importantly, remember presentation is far more important than cost when it comes to food. Dress snacks up for a gourmet look with garnishes and pretty platters and I guarantee you no one will notice you're serving store brand cheese and crackers.

Here's another fantastic tip from Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think: divide each appetizer amongst two or three small plates, platters or bowls. This trick ensures guests get the impression of more food and more variety than there actually is. Don't feel bad. You're still providing lots of great food, right? It's just that you're doing it the smart way for lots of visual oomph.

3. Drinks! Mix up a big bowl of inexpensive punch to supplement your drinks selection. It's so much cheaper than bottles of wine or champagne, yet it looks so delightfully festive. If you can borrow a friend's punch bowl and cup set, all the better for that critical celebratory atmosphere.

A festive ice ring makes a fab finishing touch, but you can also make your beverage pop by tossing in some handfuls of sliced fruit. Think lemon or tangerine cross-sections, or pineapple wedges, for example. As for other drinks, consider making it a BYO soda/wine/beer occasion.

4. Decorate for Less. Balloons and streamers fill a room for very little cash. To save more money, blow up those balloons with good old-fashioned air instead of helium. They won't float, but who will care? Nobody. Just tie balloons in clusters with cheap curling ribbon instead.

Opting for disposable tableware? Instead of New Year's Eve-themed party packs, which can be pricey, make up your own color scheme for the evening using store brand or dollar store plates and cups.

Finally, is your house still decorated for Christmas? Then definitely leave everything up to maintain that festive feeling.

5. Don't Forget the Kids. Consider making your party a child-friendly event. Even if alcohol is being served, young children will have lots of fun if you set up a fun kids' room or area especially for them. Stock it with balloons, toys, board games, snacks and drinks. Have a fun movie or two on hand as well.

Just be safe: make sure an adult is on hand or nearby at all times to supervise, especially if you know you'll be busy tending to your other guests.

Need ideas? Family Fun's website offers up lots of fun food and craft ideas for celebrating New Year's with kids.

Remember children, even more than adults, remember a fun atmosphere, not money spent. (Well, at least 'till they hit 13, anyway.) They'll hold onto those precious memories for life. Happy New Year!



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