Holiday Hospitality on a Budget


Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays and although I LOVE hosting family and friends any time, there’s just something special about hosting parties and events this time of year.

My husband appreciates my hospitable nature; however, he doesn’t always like the price tag that comes along with being the hostess. Last year, we simply had a small holiday get-together with our close family and friends. Since we’d like to host a slightly larger party this year, I put together a few ideas to help us have a nice event while still staying within budget.

Budget-friendly holiday hosting ideas

  1. Timing: You can save quite a bit by not planning your event over a traditional mealtime. If you host a holiday party at 5 pm your guests are going to likely show up hungry and expecting a full meal. On the other hand, if you plan your event to begin at 2 pm, light hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and/or desserts will likely be sufficient. Make sure to ask guests to RSVP so that you have a good headcount when preparing food.
  2. DIY décor: One of the great things about throwing parties around the holidays is that your house is typically already decorated for the season so you shouldn’t have to spend much, if any, on décor. If you do want additional decorations or a centerpiece for your holiday table, you can always find DIY ideas online. If you host holiday parties annually, plan to save your centerpiece to use each year. Remember, your guests are going to remember how they “felt” while at your party more than they will remember the décor.  There are several ways to create a warm, welcoming, and festive atmosphere without spending money. Holiday music always sets a nice background to a holiday party, and you can create a playlist of your favorite songs ahead of time to play. Lighting is also important and although you don’t want your home dark, soft, subtle lighting is best for parties. Also, keep in mind that some people are sensitive to strong smells so avoid heavy scented candles and potpourri. Typically, if you’ve been baking your house should smell warm and inviting, and if you prefer to add a scent opt for more natural scents such as pine or eucalyptus.
  3. Serve a “signature cocktail”: Instead of offering several beverage choices find a drink recipe that you enjoy and make a large batch of it to serve as your “signature cocktail” for the party and then offer water, tea, and/or lemonade. One of my favorite signature cocktail recipes is Amaretto Eggnog.  Another tip is to have a sharpie near the cups for people to label their drink cups so they can reuse them. There are several cute, inexpensive party drink cup holders on Amazon and Etsy that hold cups and a drinks
  4. Shop your pantry: Before you plan your menu take inventory of what you already have on hand, including your kitchen items. For example, don’t add mini cupcakes to your menu if you don’t have a mini cupcake pan. Also, look for recipes that don’t have hard-to-find or expensive ingredients in them when planning your menu.
  5. Shop ahead: This tip may not help this year but if you throw holiday parties annually shop for your tableware, décor, and paper products right after the holidays when they are discounted, and then box them up for use next drinks

I hope that these tips gave you some ideas and will encourage you to host your own holiday party this season. I’d love to hear if you have any additional tips for holiday hosting on a budget!

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Jenni Watson
Jenni is an Independent Travel Agent with a deep passion for the Lowcountry. In fact, she and her husband love the Charleston area SO much that, after vacationing out on Isle of Palms several times, they decided to relocate their family from Illinois to Summerville. Since moving to the Charleston area in July of 2019, Jenni started a travel blog, Our Sweet Tea Life, where she shares her love of the area. Jenni is also a homeschooling mom to three daughters. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her family, spending time at the beach, volunteering at Magnolia Plantation and strolling the beautiful streets of Charleston.