If you’re anything like me, you love the Holiday season; especially all the fun parties.  If you choose to host a party, whether it’s a large gathering or an intimate dinner for six, you’ll want to stay within your budget.  Parties can get expensive, and quick.  Listed below are a few ideas I use when I’m planning my get togethers to help keep me organized and focused:


Set a budget.  List potential expenses, such as invitations, decorations, entertainment, food and drink.  Programs such as Party Budget Estimator from Evite calculate your costs based on information you type in, the number of guests and the duration of the party.

Create your guest list.  Although your budget may dictate the size of your party, there are ways to cut costs so you can entertain more people.  Are you planning a sit-down dinner party or something larger?  Are you inviting families or only adults?  I recently co-hosted our seasonal neighborhood Christmas Crawl party, a progressive meal at different homes in the neighborhood.  My budget was tight this year, so I opted to be the first home and serve a few appetizers and a cocktail.  However, even if you are planning a sit-down meal, you can your costs by asking family or very close friends to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert.  Not only does this cut down on the costs, it is also a fun way to showcase your guests’ signature dishes.  If families are invited, be sure to have age-appropriate activities/games for the children in order to keep them entertained and allow the adults to enjoy themselves.  When my boys were little, I would host pool parties and always hire a certified lifeguard.  It provided safety and gave the adults a much needed break.

Save money with email invitations.  They are free and allow you to easily manage who has responded and who hasn’t.  If you use Facebook, create an event page to invite guests and communicate with them before the events.  This is especially useful if you’re planning a potluck or are asking guests to bring snacks or beverages; you can ask people to post what they plan to bring, ensuring there’s no overlap.

Plan your entertainment.  Make sure your guests have fun at your party.  Use digital music such as Pandora or Spotify.  Rent a karaoke machine; encourage your guest to wear festive attire; have a friend or family member dress up as Santa Claus; or do a gift exchange like a White Elephant or Chinese Christmas with an inexpensive budget.  Some other fun ideas are to hire a cartoonist, magician or set up game tables for poker or other card games.

Here’s to all your party planning success!  Cheers!