How to Throw a Holiday Party for Less

Party Planning 101

Do you typically avoid throwing a holiday bash with friends because of the time and money associated with entertaining? You might want to reconsider, because you can actually plan a memorable holiday party without breaking the bank or making cuts on your guest list. MainStreet talked to some party planners and savings experts to find out simple ways to save time and money on your holiday get-togethers. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Shop Your Cabinets

If you’re on a tight budget, it’s a good idea to work backwards. Use what you already have in your cabinets to plan out the menu, instead of looking for recipes with lots of ingredients you’ll have to buy. “Draw inspiration from that can of black beans in your cupboard,” says Shawn A. Rabideau, celebrity party planner and Celebrations.com Party Planning Expert. He suggests turning it into a hummus that can be served as an appetizer. When looking for plates, utensils and party décor, “see what you have in your attic or basement,” he says. “It’s all right to use things over and over again.” Photo Credit: Getty Images


Let Your Guests Pitch In

Keep in mind, you don’t have to provide all of the food and drink on your own. Most people who attend a party want to bring something with them, whether it be a bottle of wine or a hostess gift, so don’t be shy about specifying what you actually need them to make or buy for you. “If your guests don't want to bring something, you really need to consider new friends,” says Ruth Soukup, creator of LivingWellSpendingLess.com and Savings.com DealPro. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Have a Soup Party

Soups can be both inexpensive and relatively easy to make, so in lieu of a seven-course dinner, Christopher Lowell, author of The Hassle-Free Host, suggests setting up a few soup stations around your house. “You can do a seafood chowder, a split pea and a tomato bisque,” he says. “Rent some mugs if you have to and serve some bread.” Lowell points out that soups can also be made in advance, which leaves you plenty of time to enjoy your own party. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Ditch the Labels on Your Booze

To minimize alcohol expenses, create a single signature drink or serve mixes, like pitchers of Bloody Mary or bowls sangria. Both can mask the taste of less-than-premium liquors. “Punches are huge again,” Lowell says. He adds that you can accommodate all party guests by keeping the punch non-alcoholic and moving your liquor into pitchers so guests can spike their drinks themselves. De-labeling the liquors will take the pressure off to break out the Grey Goose. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Don’t Scrub Your Walls …

While it’s a good idea to straighten up before your guests come over, you don’t need to break out the heavy cleaning artillery until after they’ve gone for the evening. “I rarely vacuum [before a party],” Rabideau says. “You would only have to do it again once the party is over.” Photo Credit: Getty Images


Or Bother Decorating

Chances are, your house with its Christmas tree or Hanukkah lights is festive enough already. “Allow that to be your décor,” Rabideau says. He says food or liquor stations can be spruced up with a few stray ornaments from your tree or some pinecones from your backyard. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Don’t Stress About Entertainment

Organizing a party-wide Secret Santa or White Elephant may be off-putting to guests who can’t afford to add another gift to their holiday shopping list, and there’s really no need to spring for board games or hunt down a “Pin the Tail on Santa.” “All you really need is some great music,” Lowell says. “Let your guests mingle,” Rabideau agrees. He also suggests facilitating conversations by introducing guests who you know have common interests or professions. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Instead, Consider Little Extras

Determine your party budget, save in every way you can, and then, if there is anything left over (and you might surprise yourself once you start to get creative), use your extra cash to surprise your guests with something unique – a babysitter or a visit from a professional Santa to entertain the kiddos, a bartender (try a local bartending school) to serve the drinks, or perhaps some fun door prizes. “One or two splurges here and there will leave an unforgettable impression, and your party will be the talk of the season,” Soukup says. Or Rabideau says you can “gift” your guests with a pair of slippers when they arrive and ask that they wear them while at the party. This serves as a nice party favor, but also spares your rugs from getting too muddied by the bad winter weather your guests might otherwise drag in. Photo Credit: Getty Images


8 Tips for a Great Office Party

Tasked with organizing a holiday get-together at work? MainStreet has eight tips that will ensure the office festivities run smoothly! Photo Credit:  Getty Images


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