Parties are fun, but mountains of bills come January are not.
When you’re itching to host a holiday get-together, but want to keep your expenditures in check, it’s best to stay away from the champagne and caviar. You can, however, put together a soiree that is festive and memorable without blowing your entire gift-giving budget.
Here are six ways to save on your holiday party – and still host a bangin’ bash:
1. Set a Party Budget – Out-of-control party costs are often the result of getting caught the day of the shindig, madly running around to pick up what you need before guests start arriving. To avoid the last minute overspend, take a few minutes to sit down and make a plan before heading out to purchase party supplies. Decide how much you can afford to spend in total and price out party elements accordingly (eg. décor, food, drink, mistletoe). With a budget in place, you’ll be able to decide whether to skip the smoked salmon or splurge on the chocolate truffles.
2. Shop With Flyers – Many people hit the grocery store with nary a glance at the flyer hanging out at the entrance (or sitting forlornly on your doorstep). But prepping for a party is a perfect time to peruse coupons and flyers. If your local grocer is offering an insane deal on broccoli or strawberries or pork chops or pears, take that into account when meal-planning. And even if you’re the type who hits the same establishment every weekend, it’s worth it to take a look at what the competitor has to offer, coupon-wise. The more people you’re cooking for, the more you can save on bulk-buying sale items.
3. Dollar Store Décor – Festive decorations can be surprisingly cheap. As an example: A lot can be done with clean white tablecloths, dollar store candles in simple glass holders (which I found for $2 each at Wal-Mart), strings of mini twinkling holiday lights and glittery snowflake ornaments suspended from the ceiling – all available at your local dollar store for a song. Or gather up some pinecones and a few fragrant boughs and get crafty – instant frugal centrepiece! To stir up the holiday spirit, this is the one time each year that inexpensive, cinnamon-scented potpourri will seem festive and not irritating.
4. Go Potluck – Odds are that everyone you invite is going to ask politely, “What should I bring?” Take your friends up on that offer! Put together a list of what you need to create a well-rounded meal (I suggest: appetizer, meat main, veg main, salad, side 1, side 2 and dessert) and enlist each party-goer to take care of one item on the list. Sure, it may result in an eclectic mix of cuisines, but I’ve been hosting a holiday potluck for over 10 years and we’ve never been short on food or tastiness. As host, fill in the gaps and provide the beverages.
5. Host an Open House – If a full-on banquet is a little too rich for your budget, opt instead for an exuberant open house. (This is also useful when you’re looking to invite a long list of people). Four hours over a weekend afternoon or evening should do the trick. Turn up the tunes, turn down the lights, set out a few plates of appetizers and treats, stock a simple bar with beer, wine and soft drinks and you’re good to go.
6. Serve a Signature Drink – Your party will seem tres elegante (AKA classy) when you offer up a signature cocktail for your partygoers. And it doesn’t have to involve pricey liquors. I like the Winter Sea Breeze: Vodka, grapefruit juice, pomegranate/cranberry juice and a sprig of mint. Or splash out a bit on the White Christmas (vodka, white crème de cacao and white crème de menthe) (See great cocktail ideas from foodnetwork.ca!) With a signature drink on offer, you can serve chips and dip and still look like a hero.