The holidays are already upon us despite the fact that it seems like just yesterday that we were barbecuing in the backyard and lighting off fireworks. With this wintry time of year comes a season of parties that could leave you stressed out and strapped for cash if you’re not careful, especially with all of the other demands on your time and your budget at the end of the year. And yet, you don’t necessarily want to forego the festive parties that have become a tradition among your family and friends. So if you’re looking for a way to throw the same lavish soiree you do every year but with a limited budget in mind, here are a few tips to help you get the most bang for your buck.
You can spend a lot of money keeping your guests well fed if you’re not careful. And yet, you might not be too keen on the idea of going buffet-style. In this case, you might want to make your party a potluck. You can prepare the main dish and assign guests the duty of bringing appetizers, side dishes, drinks, or dessert. Or if you don’t want to ask for help, consider skipping the standard meal and hosting a cocktail party instead. You can prepare hors d’oeuvres ahead of time on your own and set up some kind of dessert bar (as well as a wet bar) instead of shelling out for caterers.
Alcohol can be pretty pricy, so consider hitting up Costco for the key ingredients to just a couple of favorite holiday drinks like hot buttered rum, hot toddies, or Irish coffee. Or you could make a delicious raspberry champagne punch with just a few ingredients. And of course, you should encourage guests to bring the fixings (and recipes) for any other alcoholic beverages they might prefer.
In most cases you’ll simply host your holiday parties in the comfort of your own home. But if you traditionally have a large guest list for a particular get-together you might be inclined to rent a larger space at this time of year. However, a tight budget could leave you with little wiggle room when it comes to your usual arrangements. If this is the case, consider skipping a dedicated venue and opt instead to find a local eatery that will let you rent out their private party room (probably for a lot less than a ballroom, for example). Or ask a friend with bigger digs if he/she would be willing to host this year provided you make all the other arrangements. It never hurts to ask so long as you don’t think it will be too much of an imposition.
Your home may already be decorated for the holiday season, but if you want to punch it up a bit you might think about adding a few specialty lights like large LED spheres or meteor LED light tubes that look like falling rain. And don’t forget to place mistletoe strategically throughout the space for some unexpected moments of holiday cheer!
With a tight budget, acrobat performers or fire eaters is probably out of the question. What you might want to consider instead is loading up your playlist with holiday tunes and springing for a docking station with decent speakers. Or you could hire a group of orchestra students from the high school or college in your area to play for the evening (if they’re established they’ll provide entertainment for a lot less than a professional group). And if all else fails, ask your musically inclined friends to play a few tunes on a guitar or piano, or get the whole assembly involved in a rousing round of some well-known seasonal carols.
These are just a few ways I have found to save money on these parties. What have you done? I would love to hear your ideas.