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Save Money With These Holiday Party Ideas

Dec. 5, 2012
4 mins
A father and child cracking eggs together in the kitchen

Christmas is just around the corner, and with it, holiday party time! If you’re responsible for hosting a party, whether it’s for work, a group of friends, or family, the pressure is on to plan something special. As you know, though, Christmas can be a hit to your bank account -  but not if you plan ahead of time. Here are some party ideas for cutting back on costs.

Be Selective with the Guest List

The main thing to consider when it comes to planning an inexpensive Christmas party is to limit the mouths you'll have to feed. Keep the guest list to a minimum - the quickest way to increase costs is to invite everyone you know. Determine how many will attend based on what you're willing to set aside for food and entertainment costs.

Scale Back Your Decorating Costs

Next, you’ll want to do what I like to call “creative decorating”. You could easily spend a fortune on store-bought decorations, or you could come up with something fun yourself. Really, you don’t need anything extravagant – and you don’t need to decorate every corner of the house/office. Start by decorating the areas that will be visited most, including the bar, the food area and the main entrance. Cut out paper snowflakes and hang cheap twinkle lights (available at any dollar store). Pay a visit to your local Christmas tree seller or find a you-cut lot for better selection and collect tree stumps, pine cones (also available at the dollar store) and pine branches. The stumps can be used to hold tea lite candles, and the branches and pine cones can be laid out decoratively. Finally, you’ll need festive music, a little fireplace action if possible, and you’re all good. If you're without a real flame, most cable packages offer a holiday channel that plays non-stop Christmas music over an image of a crackling fireplace. If your cable company doesn’t offer that channel, there are videos available for cheap in most DVD stores.

The Party Menu

There are a number of ways to cut back on the party menu. The first is to plan for the party to be in between meals. That way you’ll just have to supply snacks such as chips and dip, Christmas baking, oranges, nuts and candies. If you want to do the entire dinner thing, why not plan a potluck and ask guests to supply the recipe as well? Not only will you get to try some new food (and save money), but you’ll each go home with the gift of a new festive recipe. If you’re really into the traditional Christmas dinner, offer to cook up the main course and ask your guests to bring the side dishes. To avoid duplicates, assign dishes ahead of time - otherwise, you could end up with a lot of buns or salads.

Pssst... we've got a great giveaway going that will save one lucky winner big bucks on their holiday food expenses. Check out the details here! One of the biggest costs of entertaining is liquor. There are two ways to minimize this bill.

One is to offer a limited bar selection with themed cocktails or a favourite beer. The other is to ask your guests to bring their own drinks. A good guest will bring a bottle of wine anyway.

Great Gift Ideas

More and more, I’m hearing stories of people foregoing the gift part of Christmas, especially when it comes to large family gatherings and work parties. If gifts are a must-have, there are a couple of ways to cut back costs here as well. First, put a price limit on each gift. If your guests are down with it, draw names from a hat for a gift exchange or do a Secret Santa. For added fun, play the Mad Santa Gift Exchange game.

How to play: Everyone brings a generic gift suitable for a male or female valued at no more than $20. Wrap the gift creatively and leave it unlabeled. Place all of the gifts in the centre of the room where the guests can see them. Give each guest a number (if there are 20 guests, give out numbers 1-20). Once the numbers have been divided, ask the first person (number 1) to choose a gift. Once they’ve shown their gift to the other guests, the second person can either choose a new gift or steal the first gift. This game continues, with each person getting the choice of opening a new gift or stealing, until all of the gifts are gone. Note that if a gift gets stolen, the person without gets to choose a new gift. Each person can only steal once – and everyone gets a chance to steal.

Remember; the holidays aren’t about how much money you spend. They're about creating memories and spending time with those you care about.

Have a wonderful holiday season!


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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