• Save on party invitations by creating your own—there are many attractive holiday-bordered paper at the office supply stores to use with your own computer printer. If you plan to send Christmas cards, why not tuck your party invitation inside? Consider inviting guests via Facebook or email. You will save time and money. It’s also a lot easier for guests to RSVP via email.
• Borrowing is the key word to remember in setting up your party—family and friends are generally delighted to lend you portable tables, chairs, dishes, glasses, serving platters and trays, and more. Mixing and matching dishes is perfectly acceptable these days.
• Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be expensive. Choose a color scheme—red and green is never wrong, and white, gold and silver is always elegant. If you don’t have appropriate table linens, try a white bed sheet or a piece of fabric. Lots of single-color candles and flowers make a strong impact. Greenery cut from your yard or a friendly neighbor’s can be used on your mantel, in vases and on your table for a seasonal look. Tuck in a few colored Christmas balls in the greenery or fill a few apothecary jars with them– you are ready to go.
• Make a playlist of Christmas party songs by borrowing Christmas CD’s from your friends or your local library. Be your own deejay by downloading your smart phone with the Pandora or iHeartRadio apps. They allow you to create your own “radio stations” tailored by mood or similar artists.
• When you’re the host, opt for a cocktail party rather than a more expensive sit-down dinner. The menu will require less food and offer more variety. Try appetizers with inexpensive main ingredients: mini stuffed potatoes, bean dips, crostini or meatballs. Offer a holiday punch or signature drink to control the costs of buying different types of liquor. Browse the Internet for interesting holiday drink ideas – like candy cane martinis or champagne punch.
• Another option is to host a dessert party after a holiday concert or a brunch before a big game. This limits the types of food you will need and much of the food can be prepared ahead.
• The host doesn’t have to make everything. If this is a family party or casual neighborhood gathering, make it a potluck party. For example, if you cook the ham or turkey, ask your guests to bring side dishes.
• Alcohol can be expensive. You can ask your guests to bring their favorite beverage to share. If you feel uncomfortable asking guests to bring drinks, consider creating favorite holiday libations yourself, such as mulled wine, eggnog, or an alcoholic apple cider. Spice up a modestly priced wine to make sangria, which will go further. The beauty of these drinks is that the sugar and spices mask inexpensive alcohol.
• Have some silly games or activities up your sleeve to perk up the party if you need them—Christmas charades, Christmas trivia questions, Christmas karaoke, a dance contest, whatever will get guests laughing and interacting.
You can have a wonderful time with your friends without breaking your budget! Enjoy!