Keeping Costs Down When You Have Holiday Guests


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Along with the holidays come the holiday guests and, unfortunately, all of the costs associated with them. Although it’s the season to entertain and dip in to your bank account, it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank hosting your friends and family. We sought advice from three experts to see how we can keep costs down, even with a full house for the holidays.

Limit the invitation to limit the cost.

“When you extend the invitation, make sure you mention the time you expect the guests to arrive and leave. You don’t have to be callous or rude, but you do need to know approximately when they’re leaving so that you can make plans for the rest of your day — and so that they know when they’re leaving. When you’re making the plans for the visit, everyone is very excited, but the number one complaint about houseguests is that they stay too long. Know their departure time. A two-night visit is going to cost you a lot less than a 10 night visit.” – April Masini,

Split that grocery bill.

“Invite your guests to go grocery shopping with you. You can split the costs and they can help you cook, saving you both time and money.” – Anton Ivanov,

Get creative and inventive with holiday décor.

“Get on board with a looser interpretation of ‘Christmas tree.’ Small tabletop trees look festive, particularly when grouped in a bunch, and will cost less than one full-sized tree. Even an evergreen branch in a mason jar can give you a hint of holiday charm. Take stock of the decorations you already have and see how you can spice them up for the holidays. Fill a vase or candleholder with jingle bells or peppermints. Wrap red, green, or metallic ribbon around plain white pillar candles. Instead of candles, top candlestick holders with ornaments or snow globes.” – Catie Parrish, Chief Homemaker at

Plan your meals.

“Plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t end up blowing your budget on last-minute takeout and restaurant meals. Don’t burden yourself as the host or hostess with cooking every single meal, but do plan ahead so there are fewer money/meal surprises. Plan barbecues, restaurant meals or take-in meals from delicatessens, pizza parlors or any of your favorite local restaurants. Stock your kitchen with cereal, milk, fruit and muffins so that your guests can serve themselves at breakfast whenever they wake up, and save yourself the money that $5 lattes per person would cost.” – April Masini,

Clip those coupons!

“If you do end up buying a lot of groceries for everyone, shop in bulk and don’t forget to use coupons. You may also be better off shopping at a warehouse store like Food for Less.” – Anton Ivanov,

Encourage excursions.

“Give your guests a sense of independence by helping them make plans to go off on an adventure without you — which means you won’t have to pay for all their activities. Point them toward public transportation or lend them your car if they don’t rent one themselves. Other adventures that your guests may enjoy are a shopping trip or a special dinner for just the two or three or however many of them there are, out of the house. The zoo, a museum or the beach are also great excursions for your guests to get a little “alone time” before they return to your weekend hosting.” – April Masini,

Conserve energy.

“Just because you have somebody staying at your house doesn’t mean you should waste energy. Turn off the lights when they are not in use, keep your doors and windows shut, and don’t let gas or water run unattended. Make sure your guests are aware of your efforts and ask them to help you.” – Anton Ivanov,

Remember those built-in babysitters.

“They may look like guests, but they’re also potential babysitters you don’t have to pay. If you have children, by all means allow, encourage or ask your guests to take your children out so you and your partner can have some time alone, or even go on a date, too! Your guests will feel like they’re doing something nice for you by baby-sitting, and they’ll get to spend some time getting to know your children. You will get a nice bonus for having your guests — babysitters without the $100 fee at the end of the night.” – April Masini,



Briana Fabbri is head of marketing for NetCredit.