It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Not so for millions of Americans who dread some part of the holidays according to a new poll from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Sixteen percent don't like having to be nice to people, 37 percent dread the thought of going further into debt and 15 percent don't like attending holiday parties or events. We're here to help get you through the holiday parties without breaking the bank. You may still have to be nice to people though.
If you plan a party at a certain hour of the day, your guests may be more likely to expect a full meal. Schedule your holiday party for mid-afternoon or later in the evening and serving an array of appetizers will be completely acceptable. Serving lighter fare will save you significantly when it comes to your food budget.
Invite with Postcards
Evites are great, but if you want to step up your invitation style without spending a lot of money, try postcards. In general they are less expensive to print and they are cheaper to mail. A postcard stamp is $.29 which is $.15 cheaper than mailing a typical envelope. You'll still be able to build anticipation and communicate the details while counting your pennies.
Before You Buy, Borrow
My old neighbor could have operated a catering company out of her home with the amount of extra serving platters, chairs and plates she stocked. I saved lots of money by simply borrowing items from her rather than worrying about buying new. Who do you know that already has extras you may need for your party? Consider borrowing chairs and tables from any social groups or clubs you're affiliated with.
Your phone can be a great source of entertainment for your upcoming Christmas party, and no, we're not talking about an Angry Birds championship. Download the free Karaoke Christmas app, hook it up to your stereo and sing like a pro. Your iPhone turns into a microphone. Keep in mind that while the app is free you'll have to pay $.99 each for extra song downloads.
Focus on a Few Rooms
Martha Stewart may have every room in her home decorated to perfection, but most people don't need a Christmas tree in the bathroom. Focus on the rooms where guests will spend the most time. Decorate those tastefully to make the most impact.
Decorate With Nature
Go for a nature walk and forage for decorations. Bring home pine cones and acorns, spray paint them, add glitter and you'll have glamorous decorations that are big on style and small on price.
Think Like a Caterer
Think back to the buffet lines you've entered throughout your life. You may realize most share some similarities. Typically food is arranged by price with cheaper foods going at the head of the line where guests are more likely to fill their plates quickly. These include rolls, vegetables or chips. As the line continues put your pricier foods like shrimp cocktail or fancy cheese and smoked meats at the end of the line.
With these shortcuts you'll spread cheer without spreading your budget too thin. Your guests will have no idea that you were so budget-conscious. All they'll know is that you throw one heck of a holiday party.