Add preparations for entertaining to your already full schedule, mix them with the unique cocktail of emotions and family dynamics that are brought front and center this time of year, and soon you’re stocking up on antacids as you wait for the season to end.
Creating an enjoyable and memorable holiday party doesn’t have to be a herculean effort, nor should you have to go into debt to finance it.
The following strategies can help you cut down on the costs, yet still make it look like you spent a fortune!
Set a budget…and keep it!
It can be so easy to lose track of the costs…you buy a little here and there, and before you know it, you’re pulling out the credit card to buy a pack of gum.
Don’t do it.
As part of a detailed budget consider these things.:
- ⬥ The types of food you’ll serve (e.g. hors’ d’oeuvres, full meal, or somewhere in between)
- ⬥ The number of people attending
- ⬥ The decorations you’ll need to purchase
- ⬥ Any gifts or party favors you wish to hand out
- ⬥ The invitations
- ⬥ Photography or videography costs
- ⬥ Alcohol
Your food costs will be impacted by the number of guests you have invited as well as the type of party you’re hosting (full meals vs. appetizers/snacks)
Obviously, if you intend to serve a full menu your costs will be higher, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune.
Following are some ways to cut costs if you’re serving an entire meal.
- ⬥ For more informal parties, order pizza. Ask the restaurant to cut the pizza into “party style” pieces. The pieces will be square in shape, which will stretch the number of pieces you can get from one pizza.
- ⬥ It can also reduce waste from people who can’t eat as much as they thought they could.
- ⬥ Make it potluck style. Give your guests a menu of what is being served and ask them to choose dishes they’d like to bring. This ensures a more cohesive spread that everyone can enjoy.
Hint: If you’re planning to serve the food buffet style, place the most inexpensive items (chips, veggies, bread or rolls, etc.) where your guests will begin to fill their plates. Doing this ensures that they will put less of the more expensive items such as meats on their plates.
If your party isn’t scheduled during regular meal times, you can save money by opting for appetizers or snacks in lieu of a full meal.
You can either provide everything yourself or ask your guests to bring their favorite treats.
- ⬥ Mozzarella sticks
- ⬥ Crockpot dips
- ⬥ Meatballs
- ⬥ Breadsticks
- ⬥ Relish, veggie and/or fruit trays
- ⬥ Fondue pot
- ⬥ Bite-size desserts (cake-pops, mini muffins, cheesecake, cookie bars, etc.)
Instead of purchasing ready-made platters of food at your local grocer, you’ll save more money by purchasing the items separately and arranging them on decorative platters.
Serving alcohol at your holiday party will obviously cost more than if you opt for non-alcoholic beverages.
If your holiday party is more informal, it can be a BYOB affair where guests bring their choice of alcohol and you supply the cups, ice, club soda, margarita mix, etc.
Hot drinks such as cider and/or hot chocolate can be kept warm for hours in a thermal dispenser or crockpot.
Whether you choose to serve alcohol or not, you can reduce the cost of beverages by limiting your choices to 2 or 3 options.
Customized table decor
Add a touch of elegance by creating a custom centerpiece for your table, handcrafted placeholders and napkin rings.
String lights are an inexpensive and easy way to create a warm and inviting mood to any celebration.
String the lights throughout the house or place them in a strategic location to create a focal point (e.g. by the drink station and/or photo “booth”)
Luminaries are a great addition to any festive holiday table, but you don’t have to spend a fortune for them. Here are some DIY luminary ideas to spark your imagination.
In the days leading up to your party, use online streaming services to create a custom playlist of music that everyone can enjoy.
There are a couple of ways you can incorporate games into your party.
You can set up a table and fill it with board games that everyone can choose from when they feel like playing a game, or you can set aside time for everyone to join in a game together.
Set up a “photo booth” where guests can take memorable photos.
Hang up a colorful backdrop along one wall
Put fun props in a basket (e.g. Santa or elf hat, flashing reindeer horns, etc.) on a table or the floor
Hang a sign inviting your guests to take their pictures
Note: As most people use their smartphone cameras this may not be needed, but ask someone if they would volunteer to take photos for guests who don’t have a camera with them.
Finally, if someone offers to help, let them. Not only will it help reduce the stress you may be feeling about making sure everything goes well, but it will also bless the people offering to help.