Hosting Holiday Parties Without Blowing Your Budget

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Holiday parties are arguably the best part of the holiday season, but if you’re the host, their costs can quickly add up. Expensive entrees, new decorations and failing to delegate responsibilities can all result in big bills in the New Year. How can you keep up the festivities without the cost? We asked party planners, bloggers and partygoers for their best tips to help you host a holiday party without blowing your budget.

Skip the dinner.

“One thing I always do to keep costs down is to make sure I am hosting the party as a party and not a meal. The invitation will say something along the lines of, ’After dinner, please join me for dessert,’ or something along those lines.” – Rachel Slovin, Kahena Digital Marketing

Opt for well-decorated (but inexpensive) tables,

“Hosting a crowd and need inexpensive seating? Create a roomful of elegant bistro seating with round plastic tables. They sell for under $30 each. Admittedly, five tables do add up $$, but they also come in handy year-round — yard sales, tea parties, extra tables for entertaining (bar, appetizers, desserts), etc.” – Debbie Andersen, Pineapples and Palm Trees

Go for a less expensive theme.

“If you’ve traditionally hosted a formal dinner party, change to a more casual theme and serve a less expensive meal. Try a potluck meal. The host provides the beverages and entrée and guests bring appetizers, salads and dessert.” – Stephanie Nelson,

Think outside the box for decorations.

“Decorations can be an area where you rack up all kinds of costs. For help, look to the outdoors. Cut off some sprigs of holly or fir boughs and put them in a basket with some pinecones. You can use some festive fabric for covering the food table and use books underneath to make different heights. It will make your food display look much more interesting.”

– Julie Starr Hook, Five Starr Organizing and Design

Skip the crudités.

“Don’t bother with a crudité platter. Ninety percent of the cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, carrots and celery will go uneaten. But if you have time, make your own meat and cheese platters. The cost from delis can be expensive.” – Greg Jenkins, Bravo Productions

Call on members of bulk shopping clubs.

“Frequent bulk shopping club members could splurge for the more expensive membership that gives you a percentage of your expenditures back in the form of a gift certificate at the end of the year. That check will make a nice dent in your party budget in the best possible way.” – April Masini,

Go for less expensive dishes.

“If I decide to host a holiday dinner party, I try to stick to foods that are less expensive. Lots of vegetables and salads, and less things like major meat dishes.” – Rachel Slovin, Kahena Digital Marketing

Host a luncheon or brunch.

“Another idea to save money is hosting either a luncheon or midmorning brunch for friends instead of a full dinner party, and possibly partnering with a friend to share the event’s workload and expenses. Daytime entertaining generally means not serving alcohol, which is also easier on the budget.” – Stephanie Nelson,

Focus on lighting instead of decorations.

“Use more lighting and candles to achieve the desired ambiance instead of a lot of props and theatrical scenery. Miniature white lights also can go a long way toward creating a festive environment.” – Greg Jenkins, Bravo Productions

Opt for a cocktail party.

“A cocktail party is less expensive to plan and host than a dinner party. Do the math and have your party during off-peak meal hours in order to cut costs.” – April Masini,

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