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 break the bank to host a memorable holiday party. Successful parties are not determined by the price tag of the food or the elegance of the silverware. The key ingredients for a great party are preparation, the perfect blend of guests, the right music, and delicious food.
So with that in mind, let’s look at some ways you can have a great gathering while staying within 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 make sure you make necessary adjustments in other areas to offset the extra spend. 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 to 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.
Save on invitations and decorations.
Digital invitations are cheaper than paper and postage, and allow you to track RSVPs easily online. Another option to save on invitations is to send out a quick text or give your family and friends a call 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. Another great option is searching at secondhand shops. Vintage treasures are currently all the rage.
You could also look around your home and even outdoors for things you could use such as additional lighting, nice candles, pinecones and evergreen tree clippings, cozy throws, and other items to create a warm holiday atmosphere.
Save on food and drinks.
Food and drinks typically take up most of your budget. However, there are several ways to save on these costs.
- Before you start shopping, take an inventory of your pantry. Chances are you’ll have some on your staple ingredients on hand already.
- 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, dips, soup shooters, or a charcuterie board instead of having a full meal.
- If you want to serve alcoholic beverages, limit the choices to wine and beer. Another choice is to prepare a specialty cocktail like a holiday punch or sangria, and ask that guests BYOB (bring your own bottle/alcohol) to the party. This will help reduce your cost.
- 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. You could also set up a self-serve hot cocoa, hot tea, and coffee station 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.
Entertain your guests.
Create a special holiday playlist that can play during the party to help everyone get into the holiday spirit. You may also have holiday music channels or festive screensavers like a Yule log available through your cable or streaming service provider that you can play on your TV.
If you and your guests are into games, there are multiple holiday trivia games, festive charades games, and other inexpensive ideas you can search for online.
Enlist help from your family and friends.
We all want to be recognized as the ultimate party host, but that doesn't mean you have to shoulder all the responsibilities. When your friends and family offer their assistance, don't hesitate to accept it! You can delegate tasks like asking someone to bring ice, organizing a couple of fun games, curating a playlist, and more.
Start a holiday party fund.
Hosting a party doesn't 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.