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Holiday parties are a great way to bring together family and friends to celebrate the season.
If you plan it well, you can create a holiday party to remember and still stay within your budget. And you can manage to enjoy time with your friends instead of being stuck in the kitchen all night.
I’ve thrown lots of holiday parties in my lifetime. Before I became the money guru I am today I would throw lavish parties – Martha Stewart style.
These parties would cost me upwards of $1,000 to throw. I’d pay for EVERYTHING!
The food and booze alone would cost around $500. It would include everything from a baked ham to turkey breast, shrimp cocktail to scallops wrapped in bacon.
Add to that all the incidentals like decorations, music, gifts, and the like and it was easy to inch closer and closer to the $1,000 mark.
But what I’ve realized over the years is you can still throw a fabulous party without it costing anywhere near the kind of money I used to spend.
Planning a party at the last minute will cost you more and leave you running around right up until your guests arrive. Reduce your stress out by making your plans in advance.
Doing this will also save you money because you can create a budget-friendly holiday party instead of throwing something together last minute.
Use our party planning tools available as part of this years Holiday Planner. Our sanity-saving holiday planner will keep track of everything you need to keep track of this Christmas including your holiday party!
SMART WAYS TO SAVE ON HOLIDAY PARTIES
Here are a few great tips to get you holiday party-ready:
MAKE A GUEST LIST
You need to know how many people you’re expecting so that you can figure out how much food you need.
Try to keep your guest list a minimum; the more people you invite the more food you’ll need to prepare and the more your party will cost. Select a handful of people you’d really like to celebrate with and that you think will get along well with everyone else.
Even if it’s only a few people, if everyone has someone to talk to and enjoy conversation with, no one will notice if there are 10 people or 50 people there.
From my experience, most people enjoy smaller parties anyway. When you over invite you to tend to see those smaller groups pairing off and you’re left trying to split your time between groups. Do yourself a favor and keep it small and intimate.
Send your invitations out a few weeks in advance so that your guests can plan to attend and ask them to RSVP so that you can plan your menu.
While a general email is fine, a fun holiday invitation on Punchbowl will get your guests attention and allow them to easily RSVP. They’ll also be able to see who else is invited and who’s coming.
An online invitation is more cost-effective than sending something in the mail, and these days, it’s probably easier for your guests as well.
PLAN YOUR MENU
Put together a “first draft” menu and see how you feel about it. Figure out how much of each item you’ll need and make a grocery list based on this menu. Do some calculations to see what preparing this menu will cost. If it’s not within your budget, make some changes.
Keep your menu limited to just a few items that will feed lots of people. The more items you make, the more you’ll have to spend on ingredients.
Consider making it a “potluck” party and having each guest bring one dish or a bottle of wine. Your guests will feel honored to share one of their favorite recipes and your budget will stay within its limits.
Look for recipes that make large quantities with only a few ingredients to save money; search “budget party food” on Pinterest and look through your favorite magazines and cookbooks.
The holiday season is very comfort food friendly so make large casseroles of macaroni and cheese or pasta. Chili or soup in the slow cooker is another great option. Make something with puff pastry or phyllo like a flatbread pizza or baked brie; it’s impressive and very cost-effective. Check out some of our best party foods here.
Freeze so that you’re not doing everything last minute; meatballs, casseroles, and cookies are all good options. Plus, making some of your food in advance allows you to spread your spending out a bit.
As your planning your menu, think about foods that are popular this time of year like stuffing and turkey.
You can usually find good deals on these items at the grocery store which will help you spend less on your menu. Take a look in your pantry too. Are there items in there that you can use in a large quantity recipe? If so, it will save you from buying more at the grocery store.
PLAN YOUR DECORATIONS
You can usually find great deals on party supplies and decorations online. A great site to check out is eBay or visit your local dollar store.
Take a look around your house and find items that you can repurpose for decorations. A glass bowl filled with tree ornaments is a simple table decoration and you probably already have what you need.
Candles and a few greens make an inexpensive decoration; you can also pick up one bouquet of flowers and spread it out into four or five tiny vases. Make luminaries out of paper lunch bags and tea candles for your front walk.
Now that you’re party-ready and you’ve managed to keep your costs down, it’s time to get ready for the big day!
Do as much as you can in advance. Prepare your food, decorate your table, clean your house, and hang decorations a few days in advance. Anything you can do ahead of time will help to reduce your stress on party day.
Make a checklist of everything that you need to get done and all the food you need to prepare then cross things off as you go. This will keep you organized and ensure that you don’t forget anything. Use our free to do list to help stay organized.
When party day arrives, prepare any last minute menu items and set up a beverage station.
Place your food on the table just before or just after your guests start to arrive so that it’s nice and hot.
Make sure that you have plenty of ice, cups, plastic utensils, napkins and plates available. Set them up in a few locations to ease the traffic flow at your buffet table if you can.
Place food around at smaller tables so that everything isn’t at just one table. This will make it much easier for your guests to fill their plates without standing in a long line.
Then fix yourself a plate and enjoy your party and time with your friends!
Planning a party doesn’t have to be stressful and it doesn’t have to break the bank. With some advance planning and budgeting, you can create a memorable party very inexpensively.