budget talk

Ring in the New Year Right…and on a Budget

This Budget Smart Girl is taking this week off but Penny Warner with Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kits (www.balloontime.com) sent me this great article about throwing a New Year’s Eve party and I thought I’d share it with you. If you’ve spent all your money on holiday shopping and food, try some of these ideas instead of hitting the town. And you’ll also find some drink recipes courtesy of Reed’s Original Ginger Brew (www.reedsgingerbrew.com).


Consider choosing a theme for your New Year’s Eve party, such as a Black and White Ball, a Pajama Sleepover, a Costume Party or an all-night Movie Marathon. Or, make it a Nostalgia Night and go back to the crazy 80s, the swinging 60s, or the fabulous 40s.


Match your invitations to the theme, with black and white cards, toothbrushes, costume suggestions or request guests bring their favorite videos. Or, send out invitations that resemble newspaper headlines touting “The End of the Year is Near,” and add a sub headline: “So Bring The Chips and Cheer!” Note the date, time and location of the party in the text of the article, along with other details. Tape it to the front of a real newspaper, photocopy it and then mail to guests. Fill the envelope with confetti for an added festive touch.


Ask the guests to dress according to the theme, in black and white, pajamas, or as their favorite movie stars. Or, have them flash back to a particular decade or timeframe, with costumes representing hippies, gangsters or even flappers. Or, assign a month to each guest and ask them to dress to match – such as a snow suit for January or a bathing suit for August. You could also encourage guests to reflect a major highlight from the year – an election, a birth, a wedding – and have the other guests try to guess the event. Like charades, but with costumes!


Choose a color scheme – black and white, red, white and blue, or silver and gold – and fill the room with streamers, paper hats, noisemakers and colorful helium balloons using a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit. Fill some of the balloons with confetti for an end-of-the-night activity. Sprinkle confetti on the tables and hang colorful streamers from the ceiling. Add lots of sparkly accents and glow-in-the-dark décor.

Write time-related phrases such as “Time Waits for No One” and “There’s No Time Like the Present,” and tape them to the walls. Write down memorable quotes from the year and hang them on the walls. Create funny predictions for each guest, such as “You will marry a prince” or “You will win the lottery,” and write the phrases on the backs of paper placemats. Have guests turn the placemats over once they’re seated for a witty surprise.

Games & Activities

Any Excuse for a Party Day
Write down names of obscure holidays, such as Mother-in-Law Day, Groundhog Day, National Secretary Day (you can find them by searching the Internet), and have players guess the correct dates or months. Be sure to include one unique holiday from each month.

The Tabloid Game!
Buy some supermarket tabloids and cut out the bizarre headlines, such as “George Clooney Gives Birth to Alien!” or “Oprah Buys Florida!” Black out the celebrity names, and take Polaroid or digital photographs of the guests as they arrive and tape them to a sheet of paper. Gather the group around the table, mix up the pictures, and pass them out. Spread the headlines on the table and let the guests match them with the pictures to create personalized tabloid headlines for each other.

It’s Been A Crazy Year
Buy a magazine that offers a pictorial review of the year. Cut out the funniest, most bizarre pictures, such as the “World’s Biggest Pumpkin” or “President Faints in his Soup.” Pass them out to the guests and have them write a funny caption for each photo.

Balloon Blast
At midnight, give each guest a balloon filled with confetti and a pin. Have them pop the balloon over the head of another guest at the stroke of midnight – and watch the confetti fly!


Have guests bring food from a favorite time period, such as tuna casserole or fondue. Or, have them bring a dish with special meaning for the New Year, such as black-eyed peas for good luck (a southern custom) or hard-boiled eggs which symbolize fertility. Serve champagne or apple cider with a cherry at the bottom.

For dessert, offer elegant crème brûlée or cream puffs, or serve an egg custard – eggs are also a symbol of rebirth and the New Year. Or, make a cake that looks like a round clock or a square calendar and fill in the details.


Give the guests a party souvenir, such as a diet book to assist with those holiday resolutions, a coffee mug filled with aspirin tablets, funny fortune cookies, or a bottle of champagne. Make your New Year’s Eve bash one your guests will remember – at least until next year.

Tropical Drinks (Non-Alcoholic)

Jungle Juice
1 dash Reed’s Original Ginger Brew
1 banana, broken into chunks
2 cups orange juice

Place all ingredients in the blender – cover and blend at medium speed until well blended. Pour in 1 tall, 2 medium or 3 small glasses and drink up.

Starry, Starry Night
4 oz. Reed’s Original Ginger Brew
4 oz. papaya juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
Lemon and lime peel
1 or 2 slices of star fruit
Ice (optional)

In a tall glass, mix the papaya and pineapple juices and the Reed’s Ginger Brew. For the garnish, use a small, star-shaped cookie cutter to cut star shapes from the lemon and lime peels. Slide the slices of star fruit onto the glass rim.

Shanghai Twist
Serves two
8 ounces near-boiling water
1 bag Chinese white tea
1 tablespoon aloe vera juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
6 ounces Reed’s Original Ginger Brew

Steep the tea bag, aloe vera juice, and agave nectar in a mug of hot water for about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Remove the tea bag and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Fill two tall glasses with ice and pour in tea mixture, lemon juice, and ginger brew. Stir; garnish with a lemon slice.

Punches/Non-alcoholic Party Beverages

Lemon Strawberry Punch

3 bottles of Original Reed’s Original Ginger Brew (36 oz.)
3 cans (6 oz. each) frozen lemonade concentrate
1 package (10 oz.) frozen strawberries, thawed

In a large punch bowl, prepare lemonade concentrate as directed on can; stir in strawberries with syrup. Stir in Reed’s Ginger Brew and, if you wish, add small scoops of strawberry ice cream or ice cubes.

Apricot Appealer
2 oz. Reed’s Original Ginger Brew
6 oz. apricot nectar
1 t lemon juice
1 t sugar

Mix all ingredients into shaker; shake well and strain into large cocktail glass. Add crushed ice.

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