Holiday Party Planning on a Budget

Planning & Saving
on December 10, 2013

Holiday travel and gift giving can stretch your budget thin, leaving little extra money for the holiday party circuit. But you can still throw a frugal-yet-fabulous soiree by spending smart and taking advantage of free resources.

Bring the outside in. For seasonal holiday parties, Mother Nature is your greatest ally. In the winter, when foliage is sparse, simply gather large twigs, pinecones and evergreen branches to act as a perfectly on-theme centerpiece, a sweet addition to place settings or a rustic finishing touch to holiday gift wrap. Incorporate super inexpensive craft supplies like twine and yarn to take your rustic holiday theme a step further.

Looking for something a little more glitzy? Consider dusting your backyard haul with a bit of inexpensive glitter adhesive.

Book a digital DJ. Why spend a fortune on iTunes when you can get the playlist of your party dreams for free? Digital music services like Spotify or Grooveshark offer the flexibility of creating your playlist ahead of time—with the added benefit of the ability to incorporate song requests from attendees. Save your pennies for another day, and make these free music services a party hosting must.

Host a themed potluck. It’s easy to spice up any “bring your own” occasion by giving your get-together a theme. Instead of simply requesting a dish, assign a theme that can extend to beverages and attire. Think along the lines of traditional themes like Holiday Sparkle—or mix things up with an unexpected South of the Border shindig. Have everyone bring a dish, beverage or game (enough for everyone), so the expense is shared.

If you’re really pinching pennies, opt for a dessert-only occasion. Consider a cookie decorating party, providing trays of cookies and simply asking that guests bring their favorite frosting or sprinkles.

Use what you have. For table decorations, take to the shelves! And we don’t mean the supermarket shelves. Creatively arranging knick-knacks, candles and vases already found in your home can really dress up a table. From there, have your dishes do double-duty by putting some thought into their presentation, allowing the food to act as both delicious main attraction and stunning built-in tablescape.

Go paperless. This year, save some green by going green. Forgo traditional paper invitations, and opt to use social media or a free invitation service like instead. Not only are paperless invites environmentally friendly, but they won’t get lost in the mail, all the while offering a simple system for tracking RSVPs.

Do some digging. You may have fallen into the habit of equating quality with price, but don’t dismiss dollar store finds. Discount stores are overflowing with hidden gems when it comes to holiday decorating, offering up a wide variety of seasonal goodies at a wildly affordable price. Plus, you can pick up any household extras you may need such as glassware, candy and gift bags for a bargain—all in one place.

Food and prop stylist Annette Joseph shares her tips for throwing a fabulous holiday party on a budget.

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