Don't panic if you have no plans for New Year's Eve. It happens. Restaurants offer high-priced prix fixes, and bars and clubs raise admission to ring in the new year. If your new year's resolution is to save money, you're probably not hitting up the restaurant and bar scene.
It's easy to throw a party at home and spend a lot on food and drinks, but it's also possible to do it for less than $100. How so? Two words: Trader Joe's. Believe it or not, the neighborhood grocery store has everything you need to entertain (and impress) guests for a fraction of the cost. You might have to trek to Pinecrest or Broward to hit up the store, but trust that it's worth the drive.
Here's a list of the top picks at Trader Joe's that will jazz up your New Year's Eve house party.
What is a party without cheese? A meat and cheese platter is always a hit, and it doesn't have to cost as something from a gourmet cheese shop. Trader Joe's has a wide selection of cheeses to create your display, and many run less than $5, including Italian truffle, Ibérico, Brie, chevre with honey, creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah, and others. Grab a few, and the check out the meat selection. No standing in line or taking a deli counter ticket is required. All cold cuts are prepackaged, some presliced, and ready to go. Sliced prosciutto di parma ($6.49), sopressata ($4.49), or the salami trio including fennel, herb-coated salami, and chorizo-seasoned varieties will accent your cheese board, and it will look like it came from a fancy shop. Grab a container of marinated olives, a package of grapes, and a bag of almonds for side accents.
The frozen food section at Trader Joe's is a mecca for the lazy, especially on New Year's Eve. The assortment of frozen apps is perfect for a quick display of deliciousness, and all you have to do is heat them in the oven. Mini Brie bites; spanakopita with spinach, ricotta, and feta; mac 'n' cheese bites; stuffed mushrooms; spinach and artichoke dip; spinach and kale bites; mini beef or chicken tacos; bacon-wrapped dates — that is just a shortlist. Not only will you save time, but also your kitchen will thank you. Your guests won't know the difference.
Tapenades and Spreads
Fill a few small bowls with a variety of spreads and serve with crackers or a baguette. Choose from eggplant garlic, red pepper, or green olive tapenade for just $2.49 each. Grab one of Trader Joe's cracker assortments or pita crackers to arrange in a nice dish on the side.
Cocktails and Wine
Not all Trader Joe's locations have the chain's famous wine section, but most Florida outposts do. Affectionately known as "two-buck chuck," the Charles Shaw bargain wine at Trader Joe's is a staple and rated well. Although price does vary by state (and no longer exactly two bucks), a bottle runs about $4. You can grab an entire case and still be under budget. If the bargain brand is not for you, there are plenty of other options at great prices, as well as some hard-to-find craft beers. Of course, what would NYE be without a little bubbly? Try the Blanc de Blancs brut sparkling wine for just $5.99.
Not all locations sell liquor, but they carry everything you need for mixers and fixings. Grab soda water, juice, bloody mary mix, and even cocktail stirrers ($4.49) for your bar setup.
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No party is complete without some sweets. Check the bread aisle or the frozen section for a selection of sweets and small bites. Trader Joe's delicious cookie butter now comes in a cookie butter cheesecake bite option. Check out the chocolate lava cake, tiramisu torte, New York deli-style cheesecake, mini cupcakes, and cinnamon bread rolls. Just in time for New Year's Eve, the store's new strawberry champagne truffles, covered in creamy white chocolate ($4.49), will be a hit.
Grab your NYE party favors at a party store, but make sure to decorate your spread of food with some flowers. You might think they'll break the budget, but Trader Joe's has great options. Bouquets cost as little as $3.99, and seasonal colors are sprinkled in for a festive touch. Fresh flowers go a long way. Grab two bunches and you've immediately enhanced the table.