Cheap Ideas For Holiday Parties

Kiplinger set itself three basic rules to follow for affordable holiday entertaining: “make it a team effort” by splitting hosting duties or having guests bring food, “borrow what you don’t have,” and ” be creative.” Following these rules, they came up with ten ideas for holiday get-togethers that even people on tight budgets can pull off. Here are the first three.

  • Holiday open house — “Invite guests to an open house spanning a couple of hours. That way, you can celebrate with all your friends or family without too much crowding. Serve up drinks and simple hors d’oeuvres.”
  • Intimate dinner party — “Invite a handful of your closest friends…. This is a great way to go elegant on a small budget.”
  • Potluck party — “Everyone brings a dish to share. You would need to handle only the main food item — something that feeds a lot of people for a little money, such as a roasted turkey or a steaming crockpot of chili.”.

“Holiday Entertaining on a Budget” [Kiplinger]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. BigNutty says:

    I’d rather find the richest person giving the party and go there. There is always someone that likes to show off and provide the “best holiday party” that will be talked about later.

  2. RandomHookup says:

    Convert to Jehovah’s Witnesses. That’ll cut out all your holiday/birthday spending.

  3. yetiwisdom says:

    After hitting a wall of spending just too much on friends, friends spouses, and kids, I introduced the “Annual Non-Denominational Holiday Fun Gift and Merriment Exchange” whereby each participant brings a $40 “uncrappy” gift which is then exchanged, “white elephant” style with the other guests. I’ve modified the rules slightly since the first (we’re in our 7th year now) and I must say this is far more fun (and less costly) than the nightmare of buying individual gifts. We generally have 30-40 participants, we provide booze and guests bring tasty snacks. A friend dresses up as Santa and we all get our drink on. because of the occasional joker (one year someone gave a gift of a softcore pr0n DVD, a roll of frozen cookie dough, and a sock), I provide usually 3 “consoloation prizes” for the three people least satisfied when all is said and done – that helps people go away pleased every year.

  4. chalicechick says:


    I would love to be your friend.

  5. Dervish says:

    Sometimes you don’t even have to go to the level of a dinner party. Maybe it’s the age group I’m in or just the particular friends I have, but whenever I cook for a get-together, everyone’s amazed. We had people over for an informal thanksgiving thing last weekend. I cooked a turkey breast and stuffing, mashed potatoes, an apple pie and some pumpkin muffins. I spaced the baking and prep out over a few days so the actual cooking effort required on the day of the party was less than the cleaning effort (that’s another story altogether). Everything turned out well – I’m not denying that – but you would have thought I was serving roast duck and caviar on toast points instead of standard, simple food. A little time and effort goes a long way.

    To make sure we had enough food, we did ask people to bring something small. It worked out well because most ended up bringing some sort of appetizer or another dessert.

    Another thing that really helped cut down on cost was that we made it BYOB. It also make things less complicated because we didn’t have to worry about covering a wide range of beer/wine/soda.

  6. mechugena says:

    My wife and I combined two of these ideas last year. We like holding potlucks with our friends, but we found that scheduling them over a short time was really tough. Our neighbor had an all-day birthday party earlier in the year, so we stole that idea from her.

    This year is our second annual holiday potluck. There is no theme other than “let’s get together and have a good time”. We’ve told people that our doors open at 3 and will last until whenever. We’re expecting good crowds, and plenty of good food. Plus, with the changing guests, we’ll probably be doing anything from just fun chatter and stories to board games/trivia, possibly karaoke.

  7. vanilla-fro says:

    @yetiwisdom: Was the cookie dough in the sock?

    That does sound like a good idea, the party that is.

  8. NefariousNewt says:

    Don’t want to spend a lot of money on holiday parties?!? Simple — go to other people’s parties. Alternatively, go to your company Christmas party and “appropriate” things (linens, punch bowls, etc.) for use at your party. Hey, the company owes you, don’t they?

  9. loueloui says:

    Yeah, nothing says party like ‘a steaming crockpot of chili.’ Actually nothing says nursing home like ‘a steaming crockpot of chili.’