You’ve shopped for gifts, cranked up the holiday tunes, and decorated your home inside and out. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s easy to see why! Now, all your preparations have led you to the main event — hosting your very own holiday party.
Whether you are a seasoned vet or a first time host, being in charge of such a meaningful event is no easy feat. Throwing a party that everyone will be talking about until the New Year is in your sights. If you’re worried about this party breaking the bank, don’t. We’ve compiled a list of some tried and true tips that will help you plan a holiday party that won’t break the budget or take weeks to plan.
Stock up on finger foods
Main courses like turkey or ham can be expensive, not to mention time consuming to prepare. One way to reduce your spend and prep time is to serve a variety of finger foods and small appetizers. These can be prepared ahead of time and served continuously through the duration of the party. Dishes like meatballs, mini quiches, and pigs in a blanket, for example, are crowd favorites that you can quickly pop in the oven and serve in minutes. A charcuterie board is also a go-to option if you have guests who are gluten-free or watching their portions, as they can mix and match their toppings and serve themselves.
Simplify your main course
If you want to keep everybody fed without spending too much, don’t rely heavily on one main course. You should provide enough appetizers and snacks from the beginning of the party to appease most appetites. This way, your guests will have already eaten by the time the main course rolls around, and you will have saved a ton on food. We recommend opting for one family-style dish that can be prepared in a big batch. Dishes like lasagna, pot pie, and chilli are great options that can be eaten on their own — so you won’t have to worry about sides.
Get creative with drinks
Alcohol is a staple at parties, but let’s be honest — the dollars can quickly add up. Save money by preparing a signature drink that only requires one or two types of alcohol. We recommend drinks that can be made in batches, like mulled wine, sangria, or punch, to get you the most bang for your buck. However, if your goal is to get into the holiday spirit, what you need is a cozy hot chocolate. Get creative and go all out with a hot chocolate station that lets your guests customize their drink with toppings like mini marshmallows, candy canes, sprinkles, and whipped cream.
Set the holiday mood
Music is one of the most important elements of a party, allowing you to set the tone for the entire night. In this case, you want to create a festive mood with the ideal playlist that combines holiday classics and upbeat hits. You can ask your guests what kind of songs they’d like to hear and add them to your playlist. If making a custom playlist sounds like too much work, streaming services like Pandora or Spotify have pre-made playlists for every mood and occasion. Give them a listen ahead of time, and determine which playlist fits best with the tone of your party. If you don’t have a premium account, ask a friend to borrow theirs so you don’t have ads ruining the vibe.
Put together a kid’s corner
Keeping kids entertained at parties while adults mingle can be a challenge. If you expect your guests to bring their kids, or if you have children of your own, having planned activities for them can be a huge lifesaver. If there are enough children, setting up a separate room for them to watch movies and play games might be worthwhile. If this isn’t an option, a table with coloring books, crayons, and games will do the trick. You might even want to set up a designated nap room, so that you and the other parents can continue to socialize well past their kids’ bedtime.
Make cleanup simple
One of the most off-putting things that comes with throwing a party is the cleanup. Avoid the post-party hassle by opting for compostable paper plates and recyclable plastic cups. This will significantly cut back your cleanup time and effort. Another tip is to arrange extra garbage bins throughout the main party area to avoid the messy piling up of dishes and cups around the house.
With the right preparations, planning your holiday party can be an exciting process, giving you the opportunity to wrap up the holiday season with a bang. So remember to plan ahead, get creative, set the mood, and most importantly, enjoy yourself! The holidays only come around once a year, so make the most of this special time with your friends and family.