The holidays can be expensive so we’re wrapping up the year with a blog series called Holiday Savings Tips. Check back every Monday from now until the end of December for wallet-friendly tips on travel, food, decorations, presents, and more.
Post by marketing intern, Kelly Bryant
Spending time together with family and friends is one of the highlights of this season. Enjoy each other’s company and keep costs down with these 7 tips on entertaining on a budget.
1. Send e-invites to keep costs down from the start
Living in the digital age has its benefits. There’s no need to mail out paper invitations when you can create fun and festive electronic invitations. Both Evite and 123greetings are great places to start, and they’re both free to use!
If your entire guest list is on Facebook, consider creating a Facebook event for your party. It’s also free, and has the added benefit of updating your guests whenever you change key event information.
If you really want your guests to receive something in the mail, save money on envelopes and postage by sending postcard invites.
2. Use a digital DJ for a fun and free playlist
Keep your party lively and awkward-silence-free by creating a playlist on a free site like Pandora or Spotify. Both sites offer tons of holiday music and you can set the tone for your party by selecting which song, artist, or genre the playlist is based on.
If you’d rather not leave it to chance, you can create a custom list on YouTube by selecting videos for your favorite songs and adding them to a playlist. To make it even more custom, ask each of your guests to send you a favorite song or two, and then use your Kasasa Tunes monthly rewards to download those you don’t already own from iTunes!
3. Entertain your guests for less with low- to no-cost activities
Organize some fun holiday-themed games where everyone can participate and have a good time. A few of our favorites:
* Peppermint clothespins - Glue peppermint candies to clothespins and give one to each guest as they arrive. Pick a trigger word (like “no” or “yes”) and whenever a guest uses the word, whoever catches them gets to take their clothespin. Whoever collects the most clothespins by the end of the night wins.
* Holiday trivia - Test your guests’ knowledge of different holiday carols by creating a fill-in-the-blank race. Split everyone into teams and have them fill in the missing lines for popular carols. The first team finished with the correct answers wins!
* Christmas charades - Act out a holiday carol, song, or story
* Neighborhood stroll - If your neighborhood, or one close by, is known for their holiday decorations, take a walk as a group with some mugs of hot chocolate
* Caroling - Print out a few sheets of music and go caroling around your neighborhood.
4. Host a gift exchange instead of buying individual presents
Gift exchanges are a fun and budget-friendly way to give presents around the holidays. Invite friends over, make some tasty food and refreshments (recipes below), and have everyone bring one gift. See our previous post for a few different types of exchanges you can do.
5. Get away with a small food budget by serving apps and mocktails
Food and drink costs can easily turn any party into a pricey affair. Instead of starting around dinnertime, host your event a little later in the night, to encourage guests to eat dinner before coming. That way you can offer a few appetizers rather than a buffet of food. Here are some recipes for inexpensive, yummy appetizers:
* Baked cauliflower bites
* Cheese straws
* Ham roll ups
Another tip to keep your food budget low is to offer mocktails (alcohol-free cocktails). Alcohol can be expensive, especially if you need more than one type, so instead of stocking a full bar, pick a couple of holiday mocktails that everyone can enjoy. Here are a few options:
* Sleigh Driver
* Cider Nog
* Baby Bellini
6. Turn documenting the party into a game for free memories
Create lasting memories of your party easily by encouraging every attendee to take photos during the night. Incentivize them to take awesome shots by offering a prize to the person with the most popular photo, based on group vote. Use a free site (suggestions below) that collects all of the event photos in one album and then have everyone review them the week after the party, voting for their favorite (and reliving the awesome memories).
Photo album collection sites:
* Kaptur is a site that lets you create a shared photo album with all of your guests. They have an app so that you can load photos directly from your iOS smartphone.
* Android users can also turn on Google+ Party Mode to automatically upload all photos taken to a shared photo album.
7. Hand out party favors that make your wallet as happy as your guests
It’s always a nice gesture to send your guests home with a tangible memory of the party, but you don’t have to save up to get the same result. For as little as a few bucks each, you can:
* Have guests write down a new year’s resolution on a postcard and mail it to them in January
* Send everyone a digital album of all the photos taken that night. For a little more, print a party photo of each guest, and mail it to them.
* Give guests little cellophane bags with hot cocoa mix and marshmallows
* Craft these festive party hats for guests to wear all night and then take home
* If you don’t have too many guests (or have a lot of time) make each guest a beautiful paper ornament. Look at tip #4 of our decorations post for some ideas.
* Another DIY gift you could make is wine glass charms. Here is a tutorial of a cute set with mini ornaments.