How to Throw a Holiday Party on a Budget
by Elizabeth S.
The holidays are already upon us, and aside from all the usual things like shopping, decorating, and preparing to have the kids home from school for winter break, many of us will have a few parties to attend — or maybe even host.
While holiday parties can often range from casual to lavish, most people tend to think that hosting your own party is expensive. True, you can certainly go all out if you have the resources, but with the added financial stress that comes with the holidays, most people will be looking to spend the lowest amount possible.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to throw a fun holiday party for your guests, while keeping the costs to a minimum. All it takes is a little planning and strategy. Below are some easy ideas to help you save money on your next holiday party.
Your first step in throwing a holiday party is to first let people know you’re having one! Although you can still go the more traditional route and make or send out physical invites, this can be time-consuming, and end up costing more than you may think.
To save money, it’s best to go the free route and use online invites. You can create email invites on a variety of websites for free, most of which let you manage the guest list, respond to questions, and even let you add some flair by making your own e-vite picture or graphic. For those that want to make things even simpler, you can send out standard emails or create a private event invite on Facebook.
The decor aspect is where many end up spending too much money, thinking they need to do more than they actually need to.
The thing is, this step often takes care of itself for the most part. Most of the time, if your home has already been decorated with your yearly holiday décor, you’re already most of the way there, and only need to add a little flair here and there.
Rather than worrying about adding a bunch of extra decorations, focus on some key areas instead. This includes the entry area, tables, and food areas.
Simplicity is key. One of my favorite tricks is to buy cheap glass candles at the dollar store, and then tie some red ribbon bows around them and place them around the house and on tables.
You can also buy some simple and cheap red tablecloths to use at the food and drink tables. If you have a few oranges and apples laying around, buy a small can of gold spray paint, spray the fruit evenly, and then place them in festive bowls, or in groups around candles as you see fit.
For a bit more functional flair, tie some red ribbons around some small glasses, fill them with candy canes, and place them around the space and on tables.
You don’t have to have your event catered or worry about making a ton of food for everyone. The best approach is to take simple self-serve foods and give them a festive presentation. That means no bags, boxes, or containers, but plastic or paper bowls and plates are fine.
Some easy ideas include:
- Chips and salsa
- Veggies and dip
- Holiday candy
- Cheese dip
Most of these can be purchased ready-to-eat, so you won’t have to prepare anything. To save money, consider buying generic brands when available. (Since you’re not using the containers, nobody will know!)
To cut down on the amount of food you need to purchase, consider having guests sign up to bring different types of dishes. The same goes for if you want to have alcoholic beverages at your party. You’ll just need a few mixers on hand, like seltzer water, cranberry juice, sodas, limes, lemons, etc. Again, these are cheap, and you can always buy generic brands.
Holiday parties are generally about mingling, catching up, and meeting some new people, so the entertainment aspect is usually secondary. Still, there are some easy and cost-efficient ways to provide some fun and games.
Ugly sweater contests are always a hit. Having a “Best Cookie” contest is a great way to get your guests to provide some of the food at no cost to yourself. Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchanges are always an option but try to keep the price limit to around $15.
As for background music, there are plenty of free streaming services that will let you access holiday playlists without paying for a premium account, such as Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music. The free versions may have commercials, but you can avoid these by signing up for a free trial and canceling the day after your party.
The holidays are my favorite time of year, and always a special time for my family. I hope these tips can help you throw a memorable party for your guests, without taking too much away from your holiday funds. If you’d like more financial planning and budgeting tips, feel free to visit the Cash Store blog. Happy holidays!
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