Silicon Beach: Spend New Year's Safely and Frugally With Social Media Tools

Ah, New Year's Eve in South Beach -- pocketbook gouging at its finest! Club buzz says Lady Gaga is the hottest sold-out party in the nation this New Year's Eve. LIV at the Fontainebleau Hotel is charging $800 general admission -- drinks, food, and party favors not included -- quite possibly the least recession-friendly soirée in town. Just think of all the Grey Goose you could buy at Walgreens for that amount or the brood of starving African children you could feed just by not blowing your rent on one bash.

If you're not in the mood to party like Tony Montana, and if crowds, excess, and risking a DUI turn you off, be safe and frugal by staying at home solo or with friends. This doesn't mean you can't share the party with people far and wide, though. So get your goodies together, turn on your webcam, and then:

1. Have a Seesmic party with friends from all over the world.

Seesmic Video is just like Twitter but uses video to engage people in conversations. One year, yours truly partied with friends in Boston, Ohio, New York, and Texas without leaving her comfy chair or spending a fortune. Yeah, it's not the same as a fancy party and fireworks, but, boy, did she feel better the next day. And the best part? You can delete anything that's terribly embarrassing.

2. Use 12 seconds to count down the year in brief videos. 


midnight, try the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, which

represent good luck for each month of the year. If you do it

in 12 seconds, you could put Man vs. Food

to shame. 12 seconds is a bit too short for most people's tastes,

though some might swear they've had sex in less time. You can share your

12 seconds videos on social networks.

3. Live stream your party via Qik.

Live stream your party with Qik,

a mobile phone live stream application. On some models, such as those

belonging to the Nokia N series, friends can even chat with you as

you're live streaming -- important on New Year's Eve when they must

ask, "So, how many lemon drops have you had?" You can also

automatically share your Qik videos on a variety of social networks. Check the Qik website to see if Qik supports your smartphone.

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Miami native Maria de Los Angeles currently journeys in northern latitudes but is a correspondent for the Magic City. A community advocate, she pens stories about art, culture, good folks doing good things, women's issues, and only-in-Miami moments.