Sunday, October 30, 2016

Budget Friendly Holiday Parties: 7 Ways To Eliminate Extra Costs

This year, for Halloween, we're having a small party here at the house with our dearest friends. Yesterday we ran a few errands and picked up the last of what we needed for our Halloween party. With it being so close to Halloween, a lot of Halloween stuff was on sale. From platters and cupcake sprinkles to decor and festive tablecloths. I'll admit I was tempted. I seriously could have spent about $200 on sale items easily.

But, I didn't. 

Many moons ago, I hosted a holiday party that changed all future parties to come. Since then, over the years, I've honed up on my hostess skills. I've learned how to throw a party, large or small, that's budget friendly, less stressful, and gives me the freedom to enjoy time with the guests.

A few days ago I covered ways to save money on food and drinks. You can read about that here.

Today, I'm sharing my tried and true tips on eliminating some of the extra costs. Whether it's decorations or gift exchanges, you don't have to spend a fortune to impress the guests.

1. Formal invitations aren't necessary. I've purchased invitations once. Years ago. To be honest, it was a waste of almost $40. Now, on occasions when I've hosted a larger party, I'll create a festive, single page invitation on the computer, print, and mail. However, if the guest list is under 20, I don't bother. I send out emails, texts, and make personal phone calls.

2. Simple is better with decorations. When hosting a holiday party, more than likely, your home is already decorated for the season. That means you're already at the finish line with decorations. You don't need to spend a fortune on themed tablecloths, crystal wine glasses with snowflake etchings, and elaborate platters. Honestly, when I attend a party and the food and drinks are scrumptious, I don't care what I'm sipping from or the plate where my appetizers are piled on.

3. Buying gifts for everyone can burn a hole through your wallet. Right around this time of year, I see a copious amount of requests for suggestions on how to handle gift giving for larger "friends & family" parties. A lot of people gravitate towards Secret Santa or Yankee Swaps. In the past, I've done the same thing. In fact, years ago, as my Mother's side of the family grew, that's what ended up happening...Secret Santa. A limit is set on what can be spent. You pick a name. You purchase a gift for that person. It works.

4. Doling out the leftovers. I'll be the first to admit, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people help themselves to leftovers. These people tend to take several plates of what they want and their plates are piled high. This leads to the snowball effect. Other guests follow suit. When all is said and done, some guests are left with next to nothing and you're left with crumbs. The best way to conquer this is to visit your local dollar store prior to your party. Purchase some disposable aluminum containers. They come in all shapes and sizes and you usually get 3 for $1. Most have covers. Shortly before the party ends, make up to-go containers. You can customize per guest or hand out treats as people leave. Make sure you have enough leftovers for YOU. No hostess wants to cook the day or two following a party.

5. Party favor bags. I love to send guests home with special treats, party bags, and whatever else my creative mind comes up with. However, at times, this can get expensive. In the past, I've made a few gift baskets. Throughout the year I save free samples, take advantage of Buy 1 Get 2 Free (or similar) sales, shop clearance, and collect Free Gift With Purchase items. By the time I host a holiday party, I've got more than enough items to make gift baskets. When guests arrive, they get a single raffle ticket. If they arrive with an appetizer, side dish, or bottle of wine, they get additional raffle tickets. I always add this perk on the invitation. After dessert is served, I draw tickets. The guests LOVE this approach and it's always fun.

6. Skip table and chair rentals. Got a lot of guests coming over and not enough seating or table space for food and appetizers? Ask family and friends if they have folding chairs and tables you can borrow. You'd be surprised how many people have these items stored away in the basement or closet.

7. Focus on what's meaningful and what isn't. This involves reading the first 4 suggestions. Let's face it, life is busy. The holiday season is a time to get together with friends and family to enjoy food and drink, great conversations, catching up, lots of laughs, exchanging photos, etc. During these moments, no one is going to care about the cupcake wrappers or the platters you serve appetizers on. Trust that.

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