6 Tricks To Host Holiday Guests on a Budget

Group of smiling men and women taking selfie outdoors while snowing.
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Every aspect of the holiday season is being hit by inflation, especially holiday parties. In a GOBankingRates survey of 1,025 Americans, 78% of respondents said they noticed rising prices on food for entertaining purposes. Nearly 43% said décor has experienced rising prices as well.

While there are certain strategic moves you can make when hosting holidays guests on a budget, like grabbing decorations from the dollar store or buying food and drinks in bulk, there are other lesser-discussed ways to save too. Betsy Cribb, homes and features editor at Southern Living, joins GOBankingRates to share her tricks for hosting a holiday party on a budget. Follow these tips to keep guests, and your wallet, happy this holiday season. 

Mix Up a Batch Cocktail

While stocking a full bar cart may look awesome for Instagram purposes, it’s not the cheapest or easiest way to serve many guests their drinks. You might wind up spending more time shaking up drinks or enlisting others to help out than enjoying the actual party.

This year, Cribb recommends mixing up a big batch cocktail ahead of time. Serve it up in a massive, old-school punch bowl to make the drink feel special and fun.

Let Guests Bring Items

It’s not uncommon for a guest to offer to bring items to a holiday party and leave it up to the host to accept or decline. If a guest is offering to bring something specific, like a side dish or utensils, Cribb said let them do it.

Make Your Money Work for You

What if a guest is more vague and asks, “What can I bring?” Cribb recommends embracing the chance to politely crowdsource some of your party essentials, from flowers for the dinner table to a bag of ice.

Don’t Worry About the Aesthetics

Dilemma: There are 20 guests coming to your holiday party and not enough matching plates or glasses for everyone.

Don’t sweat it! Cribb said rather than fret over the lack of matching tableware, just mix up the patterns, colors and glassware and rest assured that it will still feel festive.

Shop Your Own Collection

Before buying anything for a holiday party, shop your own collection. Do you have a tablecloth or wreath from last year you can repurpose this year? Some lamps with softer lighting you can use in lieu of a more harsh overhead light? Dig into your pantry, cabinets and storage spaces to see what you can use or repurpose.

“A soup tureen, for example, makes a pretty vessel for a floral centerpiece,” said Cribb.

If you still feel like you’re missing a final layer, Cribb recommends heading out to your local secondhand or thrift store to fill in the gaps without breaking the bank.

Get Savvy About Holiday Décor Splurges

Instead of spending a lot of money for flowers that won’t last long, Cribb recommends investing in pretty ribbons or serving pieces you can incorporate into holiday party celebrations year after year.

Set Up a Winter Citrus Centerpiece

Finally, if you’re in need of a centerpiece for the table, Cribb recommends skipping florals and opting for winter citrus instead. “Clove-studded oranges look seasonal and festive, plus they smell good and will last longer than cut flowers.”

Make Your Money Work for You

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