Hosting a holiday soiree, however, doesn’t have to leave your wallet empty. In fact, 79 percent of people plan to host a holiday party and more than half of those people expect to spend less than $100, according to a 2018 holiday survey.

I know what you’re thinking, “How can I possibly host a party under $100? Alcohol alone costs an upwards of $75, right?” Wrong. You can throw a festive holiday celebration – with booze – on a budget. All it takes is a little creativity and these five money-saving tips.

1. Create a budget and stick to it

coins

Photo by Shot by Cerqueira @shotbycerqueira on Unsplash

We all cringe at the “b” word – budget. But setting a budget is the first step to hosting a holiday party without maxing out your credit card.

Start by deciding on the number of people you would like to invite. As you’re debating between inviting acquaintances or coworkers, remember – the more people, the more costly the party. While you don’t want to leave anyone out, there’s no harm in inviting just close friends.

Next, consider the areas where you’ll need to spend – food, alcohol, décor and entertainment. Be realistic about what you’re willing to spend and don’t let yourself go over as you get lost in the spirit of holiday cheer.

If you’re not good at keeping to a budget, use the envelope method. “With the envelope system, you use cash for different categories of your budget, and you keep that cash tucked away in envelopes. You can see exactly how much money you have left in a budget category just by taking a quick peek in your envelope,” explains Dave Ramsey. Once the money is gone, your budget is done.

Create an envelope for each expense “bucket” and keep a close eye on how much you have left as you start spending.

2. Skip the big meal

appetizers

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Instead of spending hundreds at the grocery store or hours in the kitchen, skip the sit-down dinner and opt for appetizers and desserts only. This way you don’t have to spend the majority of the party cooking and cleaning up. Instead, you can enjoy your guests while nibbling on tasty finger foods.

Save even more by getting your guests to pitch in on the food and drinks. Friends always ask what they can bring to a party, so don’t be nice and say, “Oh, nothing!” Ask your guests to pitch in by bringing their favorite appetizers, desserts or wine. You’ll end up spending much less and have a nice variety of treats for guests.

3. Get creative with alcohol

holiday alcohol

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Supplying beer, wine and liquor for a large number of guests can be costly. Don’t blow your alcohol envelope in five minutes. Instead, use the fun ideas below to get what you need without overdoing it.

  • Serve a signature drink: Consider serving your guests one festive, seasonal drink. Making a drink in bulk is much easier and less expensive than fully stocking your bar. Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration for fun, holiday cocktails. Don’t forget to make a non-alcoholic version for those who prefer not to drink.
  • Throw a BYOB party: Instead of asking your guests to bring a dish or dessert, invite them to bring their favorite wine, beer or liquor to share. Not only will your guests have tons of options, but you’ll also save big on this expense.
  • Make it a game: Try the fun game, One Kings Lane, where guests bring their favorite wine and then everyone tries to match them to displayed descriptions. The winner gets to take home a special holiday prize.

4. Bargain shop for holiday décor

holiday decor

Creating a cozy atmosphere doesn’t have to break the bank. A few holiday-scented candles, trinkets and greenery is all you need to make your apartment or home feel luxurious.

Visit your local dollar store for affordable candles and holiday-themed plates, cups and napkins. Next, head over to Michaels or Hobby Lobby for low-cost greenery and pieces of fabric – and don’t forget to check their websites for coupons. Retail Me Not, for example, has an entire page dedicated to coupons for craft stores.

5. Don’t forget about entertainment

holiday party entertainment

You have your food, alcohol and décor nailed down. Now it’s time to think about how you’re going to keep your guests entertained for the night. Providing fun doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, this can be the cheapest part of the party. Simply break out board games and a deck of cards or try these fun and festive party games.

  • Karaoke Caroling: Do your group of friends love to show off their singing and dancing skills? Set up a karaoke machine with classic holiday songs like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” or Michael Buble’s “Santa Baby.”
  • Yankee Gift Swap: Ask each guest to bring a $5 to $10 wrapped, unmarked gift. Give each guest a number and have them each select and unwrap gifts from the pile in that order. Here’s the catch, the second person chooses a gift and opens it, must then must decide whether to keep it or swap it for the first player’s gift. It can get competitive, so everyone has a blast.

A very merry Christmas party

Don’t break the bank before you buy any presents for your family. Use these ideas to throw a festive party on a budget. Who knows, it may just be the first of many.

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