It’s easy to go overboard during the season of giving, especially when your family and friends expect you to go all out on your annual holiday soiree. But if you’re looking to spare some expense this year, you’ll be delighted to discover that there are dozens of ways to save when you decide to feed and entertain your loved ones by hosting a holiday party. Here are just a few planning tips that could save you major money on your Christmas party this year.
- Evite. Although traditional paper invites carry a dose of nostalgia and class, you might be better off using Evite for your holiday party for a couple of reasons. First, nearly everyone checks their email and it’s easy enough to reply with a click of the mouse. In addition, you can easily tally replies and send reminders. And of course, you’ll save money in the process.
- People want to bring stuff…let them! Any time you invite your family and friends to a party, they likely ask what they can bring. Instead of taking on the burden of feeding everyone yourself, pass off some of the effort and expense to invitees. Let your sister make her signature cherry cheesecake, or ask your office buddy to whip up a batch of his famous lasagna. Your guests will get to feel like they’re contributing and you can heap loads of praise on them to everyone within earshot for their amazing dishes, encouraging repeat performances at future gatherings.
- Natural decorations. It can be tempting to head to the holiday shop at the mall or the Christmas aisle at the pharmacy and fill your cart with strings of lights, fake garlands, and all the tinsel and tree-trimming trappings that punctuate this season. But that’s bound to get pricy and potentially garish. You may instead want to think about leaning towards classic and natural decor for a rustic holiday look that’s a little different. Collect pine cones and boughs from a nearby wooded area to decorate your home in greenery and add a lovely scent. Or flock a collection of dead branches, tie them with holiday ribbon, stick them in a tall vase, and hang ornaments from them for a cool and kitschy centerpiece. There’s a lot you can do with natural elements to capture the feel of the season at less expense.
- Gift exchange. In some crowds it is traditional to give gifts at holiday parties. If this is the case with your group, you might want to save everyone some money by setting up a white elephant gift exchange this year. Tell everyone to bring a wrapped gift at a set dollar amount (say $20). You may or may not decide to make this a gag gift or impose other restrictions. If your group of friends is big on wine, for example, you could specify that all of the gifts follow this theme. Then everyone takes a number and picks a random gift from the pile on their turn. You can make rules about stealing gifts, as well. If you’ve never played this game before, look online to find standard rules and variations.
- Use a theme as entertainment. Instead of shelling out major money to hire a band, a DJ, a string quartet, a magician, or some other kind of overpriced entertainment for the evening, consider that the guests themselves could put on a show related to your holiday party theme. For example, you could spice up your average winter wonderland by renting a karaoke machine stocked with holiday songs (amongst the regular fare). Better yet, simply bust out the Rock Band. Or if you host an ugly Christmas sweater party, plan a fashion show during the evening so that everyone can get a good look at all of the inventive sweaters on display, not to mention cast their votes for contests like “ugliest”, “most festive”, or “best use of candy canes”, just for example. You can definitely save some dough by turning attendees into the entertainment.