How To Throw a Holiday Party on a Budget

Throwing a holiday party is one of my favorite things to do. The holidays provide excellent opportunities to cook up wonderful recipes and share good food with friends. The only problem is the expense. Holiday parties can be pricey. Luckily, my partner and I have devised ways to keep our costs down without sacrificing holiday cheer!

Every Christmas we throw a tree trimming party, inviting our closest friends over for some eggnog while they help us decorate our Christmas tree. We've hosted this party for years, and below are my cost-saving tips learned through out those years.

1. Make a Budget
Sounds simple I know, but making a budget really forces you to think about every single purchase and prioritize your items. How much food, booze, and holiday decorations is always determined by our budget. Don't underestimate the power of this tip!

2. Make the Party a Potluck
For the last couple of years, our parties have been appetizer potlucks. We ask every guest to bring one small appetizer to share. Having guests bring an appetizer cuts down on your expenses immensely and unlike a side dish or main dish, an appetizer doesn't impose too much on your guests. This started as a cost cutting decision for us, but it quickly became the center of the party. All of our guests were excited to share their dish and there was always plenty of food to go around.

We still make two or three appetizers, however. We do this to ensure that the first couple of guests arriving have something to snack on while the rest of the guests arrive.

3. Only Offer One Cocktail
This is another one of our tricks to keeping the costs down. We make a large batch of one cocktail and that's it! We usually get one or two bottles of wine and some bottled water, but no more. Stocking a full bar can burn a whole through your budget very quickly, so this tip makes a huge difference. For our tree trimming party we make a large batch of classic eggnog. Guests will usually bring more wine or beer so there is always plenty of booze to go around.

4. Shop at Your Local Ethnic Market
We do this for our regular groceries anyways, but shopping at your local ethnic market is WAY cheaper than a big chain grocery store. Lucky for us, Los Angeles is filled with Mexican, Korean, and Persian markets so there is lots of variety. Produce especially is immensely cheaper at these markets. We always walk away with bags and bags of fresh produce and only pay about $10 dollars! Find your local ethnic market and compare prices.

5. Buy Christmas Decorations the Day After Christmas
Ok, I know this won't help you for THIS year's holiday party, but this an extremely thrifty way of stocking up on decorations for your party. Paper plates, napkins, and cups are all on sale the day after Christmas, so why not take advantage and stock up for next year's party? Actually, even today might be a good day for discounted merchandise. In preparation for our party last weekend I made an emergency stop at our local craft supply store and they had TONS of holiday napkins and plates for 75% off. I happily stocked up and now I'm set for next year!

These other small tips can also help keep costs down:

• Schedule the party before or after dinner time. Guests won't expect dinner and you won't have to provide as much food.
• Refrigerate leftovers and get creative with bagged lunches. Can you turn an appetizer into a lunch? I'm sure you can!
• Freeze leftover wine and use in sauces. Quarter of a bottle of wine left? Place it in a resealable plastic bag and freeze. It might not freeze all the way, but you'll be able to use it when making sauces.

Do you have any cost saving tips for holiday parties? Leave a comment and share your tips!

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Thank you so much for sharing, Danny!
Visit Danny's weblog:
Over the Hill and On a Roll

• See more 2009 Holiday Guest Posts here

(Images: Danny of Over the Hill and On a Roll)

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