Everyone loves a Christmas party, so when you’re in charge of hosting the event, one of your top concerns is probably the expenses.
People go above and beyond, ultimately busting their budgets, just to impress their friends in the name of Christmas. With stores promoting some enticing buys to boost your holiday party, and the temptation of Christmas gifts and sales that you can’t miss, it can be easy to fall into the trap of over-spending.
It’s important to remember that Christmas isn’t about how extravagant your festive party is — it’s about spending quality time with your loved ones and giving back. And you don’t have to give back in the sense of a crazy expensive party. Sometimes these excessive parties can actually overwhelm guests or won’t contribute any extra to the guests’ enjoyment!
Hosting a budget-friendly Christmas party that incorporates the needs of your friends and helps spread the Christmas cheer is probably easier than you think. It may involve asking for some help from friends and getting crafty with some DIY projects, but that’s what Christmas is all about!
So, here is our guide to hosting a budget-friendly Christmas party this holiday season.
Stick to your budget
Organising a budget and actually sticking to it is essential to any party. But, it’s especially important around Christmas time.
Not only will you be spending money on your Christmas party, but there is also the burden of buying gifts, preparing food for lots of festivities, and maybe even travel expenses to see family and friends for the holidays.
Getting organised early is really useful as it will help you avoid the impulsive last-minute buys at the shops. But if you have left things until late, there’s also no reason why you should over-spend if you quickly plan out the essentials of what you need and go to the shops with an exact list of what to buy.
Also don’t feel the need to make up your budget if you manage to find extra ways to save! There’s nothing better than finding something you need on special and, if it is, embrace it and don’t spend extra unnecessarily.
Encourage your guests to bring something
Maybe you have always catered solely yourself or simply feel rude asking people to bring something along. Whatever it is, if you want to host a budget-friendly Christmas party you will need to put these worries aside!
Plus, most guests actually prefer bringing something to a party because turning up empty-handed, even when you’ve been asked not to bring anything, can feel awkward.
Since Christmas is a celebration for everyone, it only makes sense that some catering is split between the host and guests. Ask around to see if your guests have any preferences of what they would like to make, and share the load by delegating certain dishes or courses, like side salads, to certain guests.
Spreading the food out takes a huge pressure off you as the host, both financially and socially on the night, so don’t shy away from asking!
Focus on inexpensive appetisers
Not only are lavish food options expensive and difficult to make, but they also won’t always impress your guests.
Everyone loves simple food that they know, so sticking to inexpensive appetisers is a great budget-friendly way to go. Not worrying about preparing difficult dishes takes some stress off you as the host and can allow you to better enjoy the party and mingle with your guests.
You can cater to a range of different taste buds, buy some affordable pre-made goods to help you out, and the bite-sized nibbles will still manage to fill your guests.
Include less meat
Many family and friendship circles have vegetarians in them, so take a leaf from their book and lessen the meat on offer at your party!
Skewing your food to include more plants than meat is not only budget-friendly but environmentally-friendly too. Meat, especially the large portions of festive meats served around Christmas time are super expensive and a lot of the time get wasted among the sea of food.
If you think your friends or family would be keen to try some more veggie options at your party, try out some new recipes like baked herbed jackfruit, stuffed sweet potatoes or vegan ‘sausage’ rolls.
Vegetarian and vegan recipes are often easy-to-make and are a great way to keep costs down for your Christmas party.
Organise a Secret Santa
Secret Santa is an ideal approach to holiday gift-giving and if all your guests attending the Christmas party know one another, then organising this style of gift exchange is the perfect budget-friendly option.
It means instead of frantically buying useless gifts for all of your friends, you can slow down and focus on one gift that really means something to the receiver. You can also set a monetary limit on these exchanges so you’re aware of the budget you and everyone else have to adhere to. You may also want to consider a Christmas food gift as a way to give a thoughtful but affordable present.
It’s also a really fun way to exchange Christmas gifts at a party, surprising the person you bought a gift for and also being surprised by who was allocated to buy you a gift. It’s much more fun than simply receiving tonnes of half-thought-out presents and, of course, it’s easy on the wallet too.
Repurpose what you have
Have you ever noticed that anything Christmas-related is double the price? Regular pattern paper plates? Affordable. Christmas decorated paper plates? Double the price!
The shops are able to hike their prices up high on Christmas-related stock because the holiday has become highly commercialised and everyone feels the need to buy purely festive items instead of repurposing other items to make them suitable for the holidays.
If you’re organised enough, check out what you already have at home and see how you can make it festive. If you have a plain roll of wrapping paper do some DIY Christmas art on it as opposed to buying a new roll, or instead of buying an expensive Christmas pudding for dessert, just buy a regular cake and give it some Christmas flare by decorating it festively.
So, look around your house and repurpose what you already have. Your guests will never know the difference, or maybe they’ll appreciate your creativity more than store-bought items!
Instead of covering all of the alcohol for the party, encourage people to bring their own drinks of choice.
You can set up a small bar table with one focus cocktail that you’ve chosen (eggnog is always a festive go-to), as well as having a mix of non-alcoholic beverages and garnishes for your guest’s drinks such as lemon and lime.
While you might think it’s a bit of an ask, most people accumulate plenty of alcohol from gifts over the Christmas period and are probably happier to comfortably bring their own drinks that they know they will enjoy, instead of having whatever you’re providing or feeling strange bringing their own drinks if you haven’t specified BYO.
Plus, people understand that alcohol is expensive and considering Christmas is a celebration for everyone (unlike if it was a birthday or engagement celebration focused solely around you) it makes sense that all your guests chip in and bring their own drinks.
DIY holiday decorations and accent key places
Don’t expect your entire place to look like the elves have effortlessly decorated it. Choose just one or two locations to accent and go as crazy as you like with Christmas there.
Your hallway doesn’t need to be lined with Christmas statues and your kitchen table doesn’t need to be dressed with tinsel. It’s best to choose the places guests are likely to congregate and decorate those the most, like your dining or sitting area, or outdoors.
If you have accumulated some Christmas decorations over the years, make good use of them and get them out for your party! If not, then you might consider getting crafty and making your own decorations.
You can make your own beautiful Christmas wreath simply using some twigs, Christmas bush and ribbon. Or perhaps small paper Christmas trees to place on the table, festive coloured felt coasters, or a pack of candy canes to sprinkle as decorations. Try repurposing what you already have, like placing Santa hats on statues or toys, or making snowflakes using old keys.
There are plenty of options if you want to get crafty, but if you’re short on time, keep things simple and don’t stress if things mismatch. It will make your party uniquely its own, instead of looking like any other standard decorated home!
Get out the candles
Doesn’t everyone have that stash of candles they keep from all the times they’ve been gifted the aromatic items over the years?
If you’re like me, you probably have almost every different candle fragrance you can think of and if you find something with scents like cinnamon, ginger, clove or nutmeg, then they will work perfectly for a Christmas party! But, of course, any scent will work, as candles themselves instantly set a mood if it’s an evening party – and they take some of the pressure off decorating as they do the work for you.
If you don’t have a collection of candles already at home, purchase some cheap tea light candles from the store and place them in glass jars around your home. You can even tie a ribbon and some Christmas bush or mistletoe around the jar to make them more festive.
Have your Christmas playlist ready
There’s no party without a good playlist, and that goes for Christmas too! Whether you choose to play Christmas carols or just some regular atmospheric music, having a curated playlist ready to go is vital. Fortunately, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive speakers or hire a jukebox for karaoke when what you already have at home will most likely work fine.
Use speakers you already have or ask to borrow a friend’s if you don’t have any yourself. If your family and friends are the karaoke type, set up some videos to follow along on YouTube instead of hiring a karaoke box.
There are plenty of great music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer, and if you don’t have a paid account yourself, either set up a free trial or use a friend’s.
Once you have your music arrangements sorted you can get down to the important business of curating that extra festive playlist for your party.
This article was originally published on A Girl In Progress.