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How to Throw a Fabulous Holiday Party on a Budget

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Check out these super easy ways to learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Host a fabulous Christmas party using these cheap holiday party ideas!

We all love attending and hosting festive holiday gatherings. It’s meaningful to soak up as much of the joyful season as possible, and the holidays give us the perfect excuse to get together.

But if you’re hosting a Christmas party this year, be sure to keep your finances in mind. You want to show your friends and family a good time without breaking the bank.

Here a ton of easy tips for throwing a holiday party on a budget!

Note: This is the 3rd installment in the Stress Free, Debt Free Christmas series. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out:

This post may contain affiliate links. You can view my full disclosure policy here. 

How to Throw a Holiday Party on a Budget:

1. Create a budget

The first step in planning your holiday party on a budget is to actually create a budget. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. If you’ve already made an overall Christmas budget, you may have already allocated a certain amount to entertainment.

If not, choose an amount you feel comfortable spending on your Christmas party. To make the best use of your budget, break it down into to categories such as food, decorations, alcohol, and so on.

A $200 budget might be broken down into $125 for food, $50 for drinks, and $25 for decorations, for example.

2. Set your priorities

There’s no need to go all out for a Martha Stewart-style bash. Decide what’s really important to you, and align your holiday party vision with your budget.

If you live in a cold climate, you don’t need to turn your yard into a winter wonderland if no one is actually going to be outside. It’s not necessary to go crazy trying to impress your friends.

Keep your expectations realistic, especially when it comes to food. Don’t feel like you need to prepare a fancy sit down meal if your guests prefer to hang around the kitchen island nibbling on appetizers.

Related: 5 Ways to Stay Sane This Holiday Season

3. Edit your guest list

Please don’t invite everyone you’ve ever met to your holiday party! Limit your invites to people you actually like, and those who like each other.

Inviting the right people is more important than inviting everyone.

By editing your guest list, you can have a more intimate gathering that your guests will actually remember. You don’t want them leaving early because there’s a line for the bathroom or you ran out of food.

Plus you’ll save money on food and drink costs when you invite fewer people.

Check out these super easy ways to learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Host a fabulous Christmas party using these cheap holiday party ideas!

4. Choose a theme

Party planning experts know the importance of having a theme. A theme just makes it so much easier to plan your holiday party, especially when you’re on a budget.

Having a party theme makes choosing your menu, decorations, favors, outfit, and everything else go so much smoother. Even just choosing a color scheme will simplify things.

Here are some holiday party theme ideas:

  • Ugly sweater
  • Hot cocoa bar
  • Ornament exchange
  • Cookie exchange
  • Movie night (Related: 35 of the Best Christmas Movies)
  • Game night
  • Caroling
  • Gingerbread house decorating

5. Borrow what you don’t have

To really keep within your holiday party budget, borrow whatever you can from friends and family. Most people you know have serving pieces, decorations, recipes, and even ugly Christmas sweaters that they’d be willing to loan you.

Anything you can borrow instead of buy is money left in your pocket. Plus, do you really have a place to store all that stuff year round?

RELATED: 19 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas Early

6. Create a festive ambience

A cozy atmosphere will be more memorable to your guests than a bunch of fancy decorations.

The 3 main components of a festive ambience are:

Related: 10 Ways to Make Your Living Room More Cozy

Check out these super easy ways to learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Host a fabulous Christmas party using these cheap holiday party ideas!

Money Saving Tips for Your Holiday Party:

Holiday Party Food on a Budget

7. Use Ibotta

Use Ibotta when you buy the groceries. Ibotta is a cash back rebate app that you can use to get money back each time you shop.

Once you create an account, you can search the available offers for the stores where you shop. Many are for specific brands, plus there are always rebates good on ‘Any Brand’ items, such as produce, dairy, pantry staples and other household goods.

Click here to sign up for Ibotta. Right now you can get a $10 welcome bonus through this link!

Signing up through the app instead? Use code uwhaflc to get your $10 bonus.

Related: How Does Ibotta Work? A Review and Tutorial of My Favorite Cash Back App

8. Spend less on alcohol

Have a signature cocktail at your party instead of a full bar. Just buy the ingredients for that one mixed drink, instead of trying to stock what everyone likes.

Feel free to have your party be BYOB, or don’t plan on having any alcohol at all.

9. Host a potluck

We all have holiday recipes we love to make each year, and most people are excited at the prospect of sharing them.

You could ask people to bring a side dish, dessert, or appetizer, and take some of the load off of you.

10. Nix the three course meal

Most people would love a buffet of appetizers and dips! Instead of a sit-down dinner, consider a more casual meal of hors d’oeuvres.

Your guests will feel more relaxed and enjoy themselves more than they would at a stiff, formal dinner.

Or you could host a holiday brunch or mid-afternoon gathering instead of a party at night, when people might expect a big dinner. Brunch food is always cheaper.

And an afternoon cookie exchange wouldn’t require you serve anything more than some festive snacks.

Most of us are so busy during the holiday season that a non-conventional event would be a fresh perspective.

Check out these super easy ways to learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Host a fabulous Christmas party using these cheap holiday party ideas!

11. Buy generic

No one is going to know if you cook with store-brand broth, flour, sugar, etc. Buying generic is one of the most effortless ways to save money.

Related: 5 Super Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries (without coupons!)

12. Use your slow cooker

This is more of a sanity-saving idea, not a money-saving one. But consider using your slow cooker for warm drinks such as hot chocolate or hot apple cider.

You could also use it to keep dips warm, such as queso, buffalo chicken, or spinach dip.

This is the slow cooker I have and love!

Holiday party decorating ideas on a budget:

13. Decorate only the main area

Concentrate your holiday decor only on the area your visitors will be. There’s no need to decorate your entire house if the guests will only see the living room.

I hardly ever even notice the decorations at parties. Maybe that’s just because I’m busy being an overwhelmed introvert. But decorations might not be nearly as important as Pinterest would have you believe.

You might not even need to do any extra decorating at all. If your house already has a Christmas tree, that might be all the festiveness required.

14. Use white string lights

If you do want to do some extra decorating, never underestimate the impact of lots of strings of white lights. They’re so affordable and easy to use.

Always try to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Check out these super easy ways to learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Host a fabulous Christmas party using these cheap holiday party ideas!

15. Utilize the dollar store

Have you been to the dollar store lately? You may be surprised by how much they offer in terms of holiday decorations.

Many of their items could rival Hobby Lobby or Michaels for a small fraction of the price

Dollar Tree is an awesome place to visit before your holiday party. And did you know that you can also order online through Dollar Tree’s website. Click here to check out all they have to offer!

Related:

16. Keep the favors simple

Please don’t feel at all like you need to give your holiday party guests favors. But if it’s really important to you to do so, keep it simple!

Fuzzy socks can be a cute, wintery parting gift for your guests. You could tie a ribbon around each pair, and have them in a basket near the front door.

Inexpensive Christmas ornaments also make an easy party favor. The dollar store carries a huge collection of lovely ornaments, and some are two for $1.

Baked goods also make for super cheap favors. Get some inexpensive cellophane bags and put a couple of your home-baked goodies in each one. A festive ribbon or sticker will give it a festive look.

Wrapping it up

(No pun intended, hehe). I really hope these cheap Christmas party ideas helped you learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Once you make your budget, keep your expectations realistic, and go for simple instead of complicated.

The holiday season can so easily get away from us, leaving us drowning in debt and overwhelm. Having an action plan this year can only serve to keep you sane and less stressed!

Be sure to also check out:

Check out these super easy ways to learn how to throw a holiday party on a budget. Host a fabulous Christmas party using these cheap holiday party ideas!

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