Friends at holiday dinner table

Host a Holiday Party Without Breaking Your Budget

Family and close friends coming together bring a certain kind of joy, especially during the holidays. Parties and gatherings are an important part of who we are. It’s a time to celebrate, spend time together, and create great memories. You don’t have to bust your budget to host a memorable holiday party. Often, successful parties are never dependent on things like the most expensive foods or the nicest silverware. It always comes down to preparation, having the right mix of people, the perfect music, and good food that makes it a great party.

So with that in mind, let’s look at some ways you can have a great gathering without busting your budget. Most of your party budget will go toward things you feel are the most important to your event. It's fine to spend a little extra on your priority items, but that might not leave much for anything else. Here are some ideas to try and a few ways to save money on your holiday party planning.

Create a budget.

The first thing you should do before you start shopping for your holiday party is create a budget. Having a budget and sticking to it could help you save money and it keeps you from overspending. Take a few moments to calculate your income and expenses to determine how much you could spend to host your holiday party. Once you’ve determined how much you could spend, you’re ready to create your budget. Don’t know where to start? Check out our Financial Resources page for helpful tools and worksheets for creating your budget.

Save on invitations and decorations.

Unless it’s a wedding or formal event, your party doesn’t need a formal invitation. Instead, you can email invitations through event planning apps or websites such as Evite. They’re usually free to send, and it allows your guests the option to instantly RSVP for the event. Another option to save on invitations is to go the old fashion way and call your friends or family on the phone to invite them to the party.

Do you have a holiday theme in mind? Visit your local discount or dollar stores for inexpensive decorations and other party necessities. You could also look around your home for things you could use such as the lighting, fireplace, or nice candles to create a warm holiday spirit atmosphere.

Save on food and drinks.

Food and drinks could be a budget killer because they’re usually the most expensive items when it comes to throwing a party. However, there are several ways you can save on these costs.

Food

  • Start shopping early and buy items when they’re on sale. Also, consider buying generic brand items such as sugar, chips, nuts, etc.
  • How about making your party a potluck dinner or recipe exchange? Your guests can bring their favorite food, dessert, or dish to share and then you provide the main dish. Also, if your friends ask “what can I bring,” there is nothing wrong with taking them up on the offer to bring desserts, salads, or side dishes.
  • You may also want to consider having heavy hors d’oeuvres or appetizers such as meat skewers, deviled eggs, soup shooters, etc. instead of having a full meal.


Drinks

  • If you want to serve alcoholic beverages, limit the choices to wine and beer. This will help reduce your cost or you could suggest that guests BYOB (bring your own bottle/alcohol) to the party.
  • For non-alcohol drinkers and designated drivers, you can always keep it simple and set up dispensers or pitchers filled with iced water with fruit slices and freshly brewed iced tea or serve hot cocoa with all the fixings such as marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream, etc.

Have a gift exchange.

If you’d like to include a gift exchange, an always fun and budget-friendly game of Secret Santa is an easy solution. You could set a spending limit as low as you like and let people get creative. That way, your guests will only have to buy one gift instead of a gift for each guest. Also, if your budget allows, you could send your guests home with gifts such as ornaments or special sweet treats like fresh baked cookies or homemade candies.

Start a holiday party fund.

Hosting a party does not have to be expensive. If you find yourself thinking about how much you are spending while shopping for your party items, it makes it a stressful time of the year. Instead, make sure your holiday party budget is a part of your overall holiday budget. If you didn’t budget for a party this year, don’t worry there are plenty of ways you can start budgeting and saving money for next year. You could set up a direct deposit into a savings account such as a Christmas Club Account, Money Market, or Cookie Jar account to help you save money throughout the year for your next big gathering.

Don’t forget the reason you planned the party in the first place. You’re creating a time for celebration and making wonderful memories with family and friends in a way that doesn’t bust your budget.

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