11 Tips for a Thrifty and Fabulous Holiday Party

The best part of the holidays is getting together with family and friends but OUCH can it be expensive. We're not even going to talk about the cost of exchanging gifts. Instead, let's take a look at how you can cut down on the cost of throwing a party and still have a blast with your loved ones.

1. Make it a team effort: Team up with another friend to host the party. Tag-team hosting can cut your expenses in half, reduce your workload and double your potential guest list -- just make sure you choose the right co-host and not a slacker.

2. Borrow stuff: Rather than buying disposable glasses, utensils and plates, borrow from family and friends. Put the word out you need help with decorations and festiveCDs for the event. 

3. Go creative: Avoid a traditional party with a high price tag and choose an alternate theme, like an ugly sweater party or an evening centered on movies or board games.

4. Use online invites: Pingg.com, eVite.com and MyPunchbowl.com not only save you postage but make it easier for people to RSVP, so you can get a more accurate headcount. Facebook also offers an invitation feature, if your party guests are all on Facebook. 

5. Share the wealth: Even if your invite says "no gifts," you know some guests will bring gifts. That means you must have emergency gifts on-hand for them. Ask your guests to bring donations for the homeless shelter, food bank or other non-profit.

6. Don't decorate the entire house: Focus on your entry area, food table and bathroom. A simple door wreath or twigs wrapped in a festive bow; candles of various sizes on tables; and a centerpiece of a punch bowl filled with ornaments should do it. Stick a cinnamon-scented candle in the powder room and you're all set. Remember, no one's going to notice the decorations when the house is full.

7. Comparison shop for food: A week or two before your event, start clipping coupons and comparing prices at area grocery stores, dollar stores and warehouse clubs.

8. Organize buffet food by cost: Put less-expensive and filling foods (i.e. rolls and veggies) at the start of the buffet table and the pricier meat foods at the far end. Partiers will tend to fill up on less-expensive foods before hitting the costlier treats.

9. Plan quantities carefully: Avoid under- and over-buying food, only to end up with a refrigerator full of fattening treats. Plan 3-ounces of meat, one ounce of cheese and 1-2 rolls per person.

10. Don't overstock your bar: Stocking a complete bar is expensive and encourages partiers to drink too much. Limit choices to one or two beverages with a juice alternate for non-drinkers.

11. Go with a potluck: Most people, at least those with any manners, will ask what they can bring. Don't hesitate to spread the expense around a bit by encouraging a pot-luck atmosphere. Those who shy away from cooking can always bring chips and dip or drinks.

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1 Comment

Awesome post. I wrote a really similar post to this about Halloween parties a month and a half back, but you came up with some angles I didn't think of. I don't think i'll be holding a party this year as am in Egypt, but still these tips are pretty much timeless. Thanks a million, Forest.
Posted by Forest@Frugal Zeitgeist