How to Host Your Holiday Party on a Budget

Posted on Friday 06 December 2019

Perhaps, the best thing about the holiday season is that it gives a great excuse to socialize and throw a party. Whether you are spending time with your friends, getting to know your co-workers, or spending quality time with family, throwing a party is the perfect way to spice things up.

However, being the host of a holiday party can be really stressful. On one hand, you are trying to make sure everyone has a great time. On the other, you are also trying to make sure you don't overspend. Money is critical here. With so many other expenses to worry about, a party is the last thing that you want to blow your savings on. While there are quick $500 loans you can take out, getting one to throw a party is a little over the top.

The good news is that there are several cost-effective ways to host a party that is fun and kind to your wallet. When it comes to throwing a party, the rules are a bit similar to planning for a trip. All it takes is a bit of creativity, and you can easily throw a party on a budget that everyone will love.

How to Host Your Holiday Party on A Budget

Below are some of the best tips on how to host your holiday party on a budget. This way you can have fun with loved ones this holiday season without sacrificing all your hard-earned money.

Make a List to Track Your Spendings

As any good financial advisor will tell you, the key to successfully sticking to a budget is to keep your spending on top of your mind. As you start getting ready for your party, make sure that you document what you plan to buy. As you also buy, write down everything you spend.

You can put them down on a notepad, make a list on your kitchen whiteboard, or use your budgeting app to enter each expense — no matter how small.

Tracking how much you are spending on each item can feel tedious, but it goes a long way in keeping your holiday party affordable. It’s all about reminding your subconscious that yes, you are throwing a party while on a budget, and no it wouldn't be wise to buy that $100 glitter light.

Get Creative with The Menu

Food is probably the most important, and the most expensive part of throwing a holiday party. This is rightfully so, but you can still greatly cut the cost of food. This all boils down to the kind of food you serve.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to serve a fully baked ham as part of a four-course meal, or an entire spread of roasted garlic chicken. Ditch the big meals and opt for a collection of crowd-pleasing appetizers that are delicious, filling, and most importantly, won’t break the bank to make. Here are a few easy options:

  • Chips and dip
  • Deviled eggs
  • Pasta salad
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Mini quiches
  • Bruschetta
  • Barbeque or marinara-soaked meatballs
  • Popcorn
  • Veggie skewers

If you’re hosting a late-night party, you can also choose to forego the appetizers altogether and do coffee (or hot chocolate) and desserts instead. Brownies, cookies, and chocolate-dipped pretzels are all good options as cost-effective party treats.

Buy Generic Brands Whenever Possible

Whether you are buying cooking supplies for your appetizers or stocking up on paper products, buying generic brands is a great way to save a little bit on your holiday party budget. Generic products are usually way cheaper than big-name brands. Besides, generic products are virtually the same as products from big-name brands, so you won’t be sacrificing quality in the process. Here are some easy items to consider buying generic for:

  • Spices
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Canned veggies or fruit
  • Cleaning products
  • Paper towels, napkins, and plates
  • Disposable silverware

Make It A Potluck Event

If you’re panicking about whether you’ll be able to afford food for a large group of people, why not make your holiday party into a potluck instead? The holiday season is all about giving. So, your friends and family will likely be more than happy to bring a dish to pass. Making your holiday party into a potluck is a great way to get everyone involved and lighten the spending load.

Check Out Your Local Thrift Store Or Garage Sale

If you want to get a serving tray for your appetizers, a punch bowl, or a new set of drinking glasses, you should. There's only one thing; don’t buy them at full price! Thrift stores, second-hand stores, and garage sales can all be a gold mine for used kitchen accessories.

As long as you’re willing to compromise on a used item, you can get exactly what you need for your holiday party at a fraction of the cost you would have to pay at a department store.

Choose A Signature Cocktail

Beverages are a focal point of any holiday party. However, liquor can easily become a huge expense. If you’re planning a holiday party on a budget, you probably don’t have a ton of cash to put together a fully stocked bar to cater to everyone’s tastes.

Still, you need not worry about this. You can simply choose one signature party cocktail, like this punch, and make a batch or two for everyone to share. And for the additional ingredients, you can buy generic mixers and make your holiday cocktail even more cost-effective.

Of course, you can always tell your guests that they can bring anything specific that they may want to drink with them. They’ll know that you’re making something for everyone to share, but they’ll also have the freedom to bring their favourite beverage along with them. This way, you can make everyone happy.

Make It Into Your Very Own Wine Tasting

As an alternative to creating a signature cocktail, you can turn your holiday party into a makeshift wine tasting event. Buy a couple of bottles of wine to start. Don't get anything fancy, make your wine budget somewhere between $30-$40. You should also have your guests bring a bottle of wine with them. You can put all of them out on a table and create your very own minibar. This way, you will all end up having some great conversations on wine choices too.

Don’t Stress About Decorations

Trying to decorate your house for a holiday party while on a budget can be a tough job. Streamers, balloons, centrepieces, and tablecloths aren’t cheap. Let's not get started on the price of glitters.

The good news is that you can still get the decorations that you want without having to drain your pocket.

Instead of buying enough decorations for your entire home, focus on a few main areas: the mantle, entryway, and dining table are all great examples. Keep it simple and budget-friendly by choosing only one or two areas to decorate.


Go Digital for Your Invites

If you’ve ever gotten married, then you know exactly how expensive paper invitations can be. Even if you haven't, you must have heard. When it comes to planning a holiday party, it may be tempting to splurge on paper invites. However, there’s little sense in spending extra money on the invite. Besides, climate change is real.

There are plenty of places that you can go to get snazzy, holiday-themed invites without spending a dime. Check out Canva and put together an invitation in minutes. If you want to create an interactive invitation, you can create an event and share it on Facebook. This way, you can easily answer all the questions your guests have about the party, like “What time does it start,” “What should I bring?” and “Can I bring my partner?”

Make it easy on yourself and just focus on things you actually have to spend on.

Ask for Help!

We all need help from time to time, even more so when throwing a holiday party. You truly can get by with a bit of help from your friends. Make it a joint affair and throw a party with your best friend. If you’re married, team up with another couple.

Bringing other people into the mix lightens the load with planning, decorating, and most importantly, shopping for the supplies. You may find that hosting a holiday party on a budget is much more enjoyable when there are multiple hands to help out. And who knows, you may come up with some really great ideas together.


The holidays can be tough to get through when you’re on a budget, or if you’re strapped for cash. However, you don’t have to sacrifice socializing and spending time with friends or family. Just make sure you don’t spend beyond your means, keep an eye on your purchases, and always be on the lookout for more affordable options. Since you are already on an open loan, it’s best not to rack another. With a bit of determination and creativity, you can host a holiday party on a budget that everyone will love.