How to Save Money Hosting a Fantastic Holiday Party!

It’s getting close to the end of the year, and that usually means it’s party time again! Whether it’s a Christmas, Chanukah, Yule, or Kwanzaa celebration, or the big New Year’s bash, we’ll all probably be attending or planning some kind of special activity at work or at home with family, friends, and colleagues during the next few weeks. If hosting a party is in your plans, you may be concerned about your budget. But you can save money hosting a holiday party! Here are some really great ideas to use that will make your party a hit, without breaking the bank!

How to Save Money Hosting a Fantastic Holiday Party!

How to Save Money Hosting a Fantastic Holiday Party

Getting the word out…the Invitations

How you invite your guests doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You could simply phone, text or e-mail your guests the details and invite them. The cost is basically $0. It may take a bit longer than just a few minutes to reach everyone, but it definitely is a money saver. And the best part is you can leave a message and a return number or e-mail if you miss them! If you do prefer the old fashioned way, try simple hand-made invitations or try the dollar store to save. You can even use postcard invitations and save on the envelopes and postage costs as well. The simple invitation shouldn’t be a huge expense. Save that for the actual party!

Making it festive…the Decorations

Pick a specific theme for you shindig and keep your decorations primarily in the party area. It’s not necessary to decorate every room in your home, because if you do it will increase the expenses dramatically.

Use your theme in the entry way and the primary room you will be dining and mingling in as the focus of your decorations. That includes the food area and tables for snacks and beverages. You may want to decorate your front door and the powder room as well to carry the holiday spirit in the areas being most used.

When you pick your theme it can be as simple as a color scheme like silver and red using bows, wrapping paper and other items from the dollar store. Even empty gift boxes (left over from your own gifts) will look festive when wrapped and stacked and even used as risers on tables. Column candles or a glass bowl with bright ornaments can be a wonderful accessory to use around the party room as well. Or go with the natural look by mixing evergreen boughs or pinecones into your décor.

To give the party appear some extra class, don’t buy disposable napkins, plates, cups and cutlery. Use real dishes and napkins for a polished look. Cleanup may take more effort, but it will save money. If you do buy disposables, check out your local dollar store for deals.

Eat, drink and be merry….the Menu

The biggest expense you will have is the food you will be serving at your party. First of all, decide on the type of menu you’ll be using. Of course you could go potluck as the least expensive option. If you do that, be sure to coordinate so you end up with a balanced menu. But if that’s too casual, decide if it will be appetizers only or a full dinner (be sure to let guests know what to expect). If dinner, will it be a buffet or sit down?

Buffets will run about 50% less in cost. If you decide on deli platters, plan on about 3 oz. of meats per person and 1 oz. of cheeses as well. Turkey and Swiss are generally the most popular items for a deli spread, but you can even do a meatless buffet serving fruits, veggies trays, salads and such to reduce your expenses. How you set up your serving area will also be important. Believe it or not, by putting the less costly items at the beginning of the serving area, as your guests will fill their plates with things like rolls and salads and have less room for the more costly items at the end of the table. It’s a technique used by catering halls all over the place.

If you decide on appetizers, try walking around with them and offering them to the guests that way. People tend to try things in moderation when they are presented on the tray when compared to just leaving them out where they can take several at one time. Keep in mind that you’re trying to satisfy, but not over supply. The goal is to have just the right amount of food to serve.

And don’t forget about desserts! Everyone loves dessert and here’s your chance to include your guests in menu participation. When invited, invariably guests will ask, “Can I bring anything?” Here’s the opportunity to mention cookies, cake, pies, and candies or nuts. Your guests will bring what they love and you can then supplement around their choices.

Once you have your menu figured out, organize your shopping list. As you would do anyway, pay attention to sales, compare prices, use coupons when you can, and stay within seasonality to insure cost control.

Raising a toast…the Beverages

Should you serve alcohol or not? I’d advise limited choices such as wine (Trader Joe’s has the best prices around) or punch which you can make yourself, or perhaps one or two popular mixed drinks like a screwdriver or bay breeze (made with vodka and juices). You can serve coffee, tea and soda as well. If you want to serve Champagne, consider Prosecco or another sparkling wine as a less expensive substitute. If you’re looking to be festive without the alcoholic punch, try sparkling cider or sparkling soda.

Let the music play…the Entertainment

All good parties plan on some form of entertainment. You can simply play some holiday music right from your television (doesn’t every cable and satellite system have stations just playing those?), computer, stereo or radio. In addition you can try singing, whether it’s classic carols or karaoke holiday tunes, or playing some classic games like Pictionary. Or just stimulate some festive conversation with questions about your favorite holiday memories or your New Year’s resolutions.

One final note…

Consider when the party will take place: the time of day. You may not have considered it, but the time of day can make some differences in the cost. Most parties are evening events, but you can switch things up to a less costly luncheon or even a brunch get-together. That can save on things like alcohol for example. Some people even just have dessert parties. Any variation on the traditional will save money and make your party a bit different and more memorable!


Just remember, the purpose of having a party is to get family and friends together and celebrate each other’s company, so focus on the big picture without busting your budget.

Are you planning your very own holiday event this season?  Is having a blast and yet saving some money important to you? What suggestions do you have that will make this holiday season fun and not break your bank?

Image courtesy of Apolonia at (with changes)


  1. You’re right that it never hurts to accept offers of help. I’m so bad at this personally, but if someone offers to bring a dish, say yes! I’m fine with serving spirits/hard alcohol because it never goes bad. What I do try to limit is the amount of mixers (no one wants flat soda!). I also think getting creative with meatless options, especially for appetizers, is a smart money saver.

  2. Mel

    I love it when hosts are willing to let guests help out – I feel much better bringing over a dish or a bottle of wine to contribute.

    Ive also never thought of using old gift boxes as decor – great idea!

  3. Don’t forget about e-vite and Facebook. Both great ways to keep track of who’s been invited and who’s responded.

    And warehouse stores will have good deals on cold cuts and cheese. Then you just have to slice it all up. Maybe spear some with toothpicks. It’s a lot cheaper than buying the platters.

  4. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank

    Potlucking is really a good idea in hosting a holiday party and it’s more fun, I guess, because during the party, everyone is excited to talk about their share and dishes they prepared. Great tips, Gary.

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