On recent New Year's Eves in South Beach, booking Lindsay Lohan and R&B singer John Legend as the entertainment would have caused a ticket stampede almost regardless the cost.
But with the economy in recession, that's not the case this year: the $200 individual tickets and $1,500 VIP tables are moving slower than expected.
"I know times are tough right now and everything is affected," said Vanessa Menkes, spokeswoman for the Opium Group, which runs several Miami Beach clubs. "But I also know that people want to celebrate the new year on a festive foot."
Clubs and party promoters around the country say revelers are doing more bargain hunting than in the past and are sticking to set budgets for their night out, while other partygoers are opting to ring in the new year by throwing their own exclusive parties at home.
Paige Newman, an editor at Zandl Group, a New York-based consumer trend research company, said many young adults are staying home to entertain with dinner parties, board and video games, barbecues and movie screenings.
"Because of the weakness in the economy and the rising unemployment rates, we've noticed a backlash against flaunting money and excessive spending among young adults," Newman said. "Even people who are not concerned about their finances are deciding to cut back and paying extra for a party hosted by a celebrity is off-trend now."
Jessica Cabrera and a small group of her friends never think twice before paying the $150 to $200 cover charge to see an A-list celebrity host a New Year's Eve event on South Beach.
"The money I would be spending on to go to these parties could go toward paying off some of my bills," Cabrera said.
Tickets to see Legend perform at Prive in Miami Beach have not all been sold, and down the street at Mansion, where Lohan and gal pal Samantha Ronson will be hosting an event, organizers are still hustling to sell VIP tables, ranging from $1,500 to $5,000.
People are negotiating more over what they are willing to pay for these gala events, and are more interested in affordable parties, said Michael Galluppo, general manager at Newyears.com, a national Web site started in 1998 that gives party information and sell event tickets in major cities.
"With all that's going on, I think people are being smarter about what they want to do and have planned for New Year's a lot earlier this year," Galluppo said. "Since November, we've noticed a lot more visitors to our site, which is a good indicator that people are seeing what's out there this year before making a final decision."
Hundreds of the events listed on the site are still available. One event in New York City and in San Francisco each are marked as sold out, and two events are sold out in Chicago and in Miami. But in Las Vegas, headliners like Kid Rock, the Kardashian sisters, and singer Ashlee Simpson and her husband Pete Wentz can't seem to draw in sold-out crowds to their own events.