Welcome to the season of holiday parties, family gatherings, and gift giving. For many of us, the season's gatherings bring not only fun and excitement, but also financial strain. If you plan to host a gathering (or attend one), consider these tips for celebrations that won't break the bank.
Happy Holiday Budgeting
Knowing what you can afford to spend on an event – and sticking to it – is critical. If there isn't enough money in your budget to host your ideal party, don't worry. You may have to adjust your plan, but there are entertaining options for almost every budget. Gift wrapping, craft making, and caroling parties are excellent alternatives to larger holiday parties.
More is Merrier
Sharing the financial and other responsibilities of hosting a party is the best way to entertain for less. If you'd like to host your own party, consider asking guests to bring a special dish, drink, or dessert. Friends on tight budgets or those who don't cook can always help with invitations, setup, or cleanup instead. Including others in party organization, food preparation, and other aspects of planning often makes for a more diverse and inclusive party.
Keep it Small
You may be tempted to pack your house with as many guests as are allowed under the current fire code, but a long guest list can add to the stress and costs of an event. Before making a guest list, estimate how much it will cost per person for food and drinks, look at your budget, and plan your guest list accordingly. Sometimes an intimate gathering with very close friends is more fun than an all-out bash.
It's easy to spend a fortune on holiday decorations, from wreaths and ornaments to garlands, place mats, and more. If you already have items from previous years, reusing them is the most economical (and earth-friendly) way to go. If you want to buy new decorations, consider making your own with ideas from social networking websites, borrowing decorations from friends or family, or having guests make place mats or ornaments during the actual party.
Simple Celebratory Foods
An appetizer or dessert party will usually cost less than a party that takes place during mealtime. Whatever time of day you have your event, sharing the responsibility of cooking and shopping with friends is the ultimate way to save. For those dishes that you make, consider choosing recipes with plenty of portions that require inexpensive ingredients.
Make Gifts Thoughtful
If you are attending a party and want to bring a gift for the host, or if the party you're attending includes a gift exchange, consider giving something thoughtful yet inexpensive instead of rushing out and buying something full price. Some thoughtful yet economical gift ideas include a well-picked book, a modest gift certificate for something you know the recipient enjoys, or a homemade photo album, gift basket, ornament, or recipe booklet. Offering your time or expertise can always be a valuable gift. Putting a little thought and planning into your entertainment plans can help you save hundreds of dollars or more, while still throwing a beautiful, memorable event.