The holiday season is rapidly approaching, making now the time to start planning your holiday party. Whether you host a holiday party every year or it’s your first one, here are some tips to help you plan a party that’s fun, festive and budget friendly.

Set a budget. List potential expenses, such as decorations, entertainment, food and drink. If you’re not sure how much each item will cost, look online for estimated pricing. Once you estimate how much everything will cost, you can decide how you would like to prioritize your spending if you’re on a tight budget.

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?

Plan your menu. Whether you’re making everything yourself or having a potluck, it helps to plan your menu.

  • If you’re cooking the meal yourself, scour the internet and your favourite cookbooks and magazines for recipes. To save time and avoid stress, make as much of the meal as you can in advance and freeze it. Or, host a buffet instead of a sit-down meal. Another idea is to host a holiday brunch instead of a big dinner. Since breakfast items tend to be cheaper, you’ll cut down on food costs.

Decorate. Holiday decorations don’t have to break the bank. Reuse old decorations to save money or decorate natural items such as pine cones and branches with glitter. If you prefer to purchase new decorations, discount stores offer a selection of low-cost, festive items. If you tend to host a holiday party every year, be sure to take advantage of post-holiday sales and other deals throughout the year.

At the end of the party

Before you say goodbye to your guests, here are two thoughtful ways to thank them for coming.

  • Buy food storage containers ahead of time to send people home with leftovers and treats. They’ll appreciate the gesture and you won’t have a refrigerator overflowing with food.
  • If you have a Polaroid or other instant camera, take photos throughout the party. You can also set up a photo booth for guests to take pictures of themselves. Allow them to keep the photos, or send them a copy with a handwritten note after the party.

If you have any other tips to share, I would love to hear from you.

Email me at tbaird@tbaird.com.