New Year’s Eve On A Shoestring

Helen Grange (Guest Writer) @ Lucid Living

So money is tight, but it’s also New Year’s Eve! And if you celebrate only one night this year, it must surely be December 31, if only to greet January 1 with a joyful spirit to set the tone for 2011.The one thing you don’t want, though, is to ring in the new year by ringing up your hard-earned cash on someone else’s till. So how do you celebrate New Year’s Eve on the cheap?

It’s not easy, as every venue hikes their prices, hoping to cash in, and going big can cost R500 or more.

But with some planning, New Year’s Eve can be done inexpensively.

Here are some ideas:

Many hands save much money. Have friends around for a New Year’s dinner, but get everyone to pitch in. One person can supply the dessert, another the starters, another the salad and you do the main course. Get everyone to chip in with drinks and you have a great evening that will cost you around R300 or less.

Get higher. If you’re in Cape Town, take the cableway to the top of Table Mountain (weather permitting). Adults pay R160 and children (4 – 17 years) pay R80 for return tickets from 6pm. The last cable car down is at 1am. For more info, call 021 424 8181 or visit

Go camping. There are lots of lovely camping sites in South Africa where you can stay for a song and bring in the new year by sleeping, cooking and frolicking under the stars. Cape Nature’s Anysberg in the Little Karoo, for example, costs only R100 a night  per campsite (call 021 659 3500), and Double Mouth Reserve, on the beach on the Wild Coast, costs just R180 per campsite per night. Outside Cradock the Kommandodrift Nature Reserve asks only R130 per stand per night next to the dam (call 043705 4400). Limpopo’s provincial parks win the prize for value-for-money camping. You pay just R50 for a campsite, for up to six people in the Nylsvley Nature Reserve! (Call 014 743 1074.)

Go house-hopping. Get together with friends in your neighbourhood and have a movable feast – one course at each friend’s house. It keeps mess and planning down to, and the change of scene keeps everyone interested. Of course, this only works if you have friends who live close to you.

Get Spanish. The Spanish celebrate New Year by eating 12 grapes, one on each chime of the clock as it strikes midnight. So treat invite your family and friends over for a pan of paella (traditionally eaten straight out of the pan), some pitchers of sangria and a bunch of grapes.

Get romantic. Despatch the kids, light a candle and share a bottle of bubbly with your significant other at home with your favourite music on.

Invite serenity. Anyone who has brought in the new year at a Buddhist retreat will testify to the magic of meditation and abstinence. Daily accommodation, including food at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo in KwaZulu Natal is as little as R280pp per night. Tel. 039 8341 863.

To bed early, to wake at sunrise. Many people love this option. To greet the new year you could go for a walk or hike in the country. Nothing beats watching the sun rise over a beautiful and remote spot on the first day of a new year. Not only is it free, it sure beats waking at lunchtime with an empty wallet and a hangover!