13 Budget-Friendly Ideas for a Holiday Party

bar cart with holiday decor

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Some elements help make a holiday party memorable, like great food and a festive atmosphere. Most of these party features won't cost you a lot of money, so even those of us on a budget can master the art of entertaining.

Making sure guests are well fed and entertained is the first step. The next step is to create an environment that will make your guests feel welcomed and joyful. 

These inexpensive holiday party ideas will help you enhance your next gathering without breaking the bank.

  • 01 of 12

    Send Virtual Invitations Instead of Emails

    Holiday party invitation

    If you're on a budget, the first way to save some money is to send out your invitations using a free digital service instead of mailing out hard copies. 

    You can opt to send an email or create a Facebook event, but there are so many free services out there now that can send nice looking digital invitations.

    The great thing about using an invitation website instead of Facebook or email is that some sites can track who has RSVPed and also let you create lists of who is bringing what to the party. 

    Silver and Gold Holiday Party Invitation from punchbowl

  • 02 of 12

    Opt for Hot Cocoa Over Alcohol

    Hot chocolate bar kit for a holiday party
    Pretty Paper Studio / Etsy

    Hot chocolate stations are a really popular way to add a fun element to a winter-time holiday party. To make sure guests understand what's at the station (it's not coffee), consider printing out some stylized signs like the ones you see here.

    Not only are the signs informative, they will also work as part of the party decor and set the mood that this get together is meant to be cozy and relaxed. 

    Hot Chocolate Bar Printable Kit from Pretty Paper Studio 

  • 03 of 12

    Fill a Dessert Table With Bite Sized Treats

    Chocolate cake bites
    Elizabeth LaBau

    If you're skipping a meal and only serving desserts to save money, make sure you put some time into planning out the perfect dessert table. Opting to make a few different bite-sized treats that only use a few ingredients will save you money and make your desserts go a long way. 

    Homemade Nutella Cake Pops from The Spruce

  • 04 of 12

    Set up a Bar Cart so Guests Can Help Themselves

    Holiday bar cart
    Haute Off the Rack

    If you choose to have alcohol at your party but are really limited on cash, suggest that people BYOB. Have a basic bar cart set up with one feature cocktail and encourage guests to add their drink of choice to the cart or inside a cooler located next to the cart. 

    Stock a bar cart with some of these items:

    • Sparkling wine for toasting and Bellini cocktails
    • Seltzer or tonic water for mixing
    • Gin, vodka and/or whiskey
    • Cranberry juice and soda for mixing
    • Ice bucket and other bar essentials like a cocktail mixer
    • Rocks glasses and champagne flutes

    How to Decorate for the Holidays from Haute off the Rack

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Keep Guests Cozy With Fuzzy Sock Party Favors

    Fuzzy socks in a basket
    Anderson + Grant

    This holiday party idea functions both as a party favor and as a way to ensure your guests will feel right at home. Choose a larger basket or wooden crate to fill with either slippers or fuzzy socks.

    Fuzzy socks are a more versatile option than slippers because they are less expensive, and you won't need to stock a large range of sizes.

    Place the bin by the entrance with a sign that will encourage guests to slip off their shoes and put on some fuzzy socks that they can take home with them. 

    Basket of Slippers for Guests from Anderson + Grant

  • 06 of 12

    Use a Free Streaming Service for Your Holiday Playlist

    Braven Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
    Braven Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Amazon.com

    Take some of the stress out of entertaining by mellowing out to some chill holiday music. Days before the party, create a custom playlist filled with background music to set the mood.

    Whether your list is filled with Christmas carols or dance music doesn't matter. All that matters is that the music you choose is smile-worthy. 

    Popular music streaming services:

    • Pandora
    • Spotify
    • Amazon Music
    • Apple Music

    BRAVEN LUX Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, $34.99, Amazon

  • 07 of 12

    Reuse Christmas Ornaments for a New Year's Party

    Transition holiday party decor from Christmas to New Years
    Hello Splendid

    If you're throwing a New Year's party, there is no need to put away all your Christmas decorations beforehand. Ball ornaments and string lights can be repurposed for other holiday party decorations.

    Consider spray painting some extra ornaments in silver and gold to change up the color palette a bit. 

    How to Transition Christmas Decor to New Year's from Hello Splendid

  • 08 of 12

    Focus Your Menu Around Inexpensive Appetizers

    Tomato-Basil Bruschetta
    Cultura RM Exclusive / Brett Stevens / Getty Images

    Dinner parties can get really pricey depending on the menu you choose. If you're on a budget, consider throwing a potluck or a party that features drinks and light fare. There are a lot of appetizers you can prepare using a few ingredients that will make a good impression on your guests. 

    Inexpensive appetizer ideas:

    • Bruschetta and other crostinis
    • Mini meatballs
    • Deviled eggs
    • Olive dip with crackers

    Fresh Tomato and Basil Bruschetta from The Spruce

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Throw a Themed Holiday Party

    Themed parties on a budget

    Picking a theme can actually help you stay on a budget by streamlining the party planning. Instead of spending a lot of time and resources planning the perfect holiday party from scratch, these themes will give your party an immediate focus. You'll know exactly what you need in advance, which will help you stick to a budget. 

    Holiday party theme ideas:

    Ugly Sweater Christmas Party Awards from eighteen25

  • 10 of 12

    Add Flare to a Dinner Party With Customized Placeholders

    Ornament placeholder cards
    Bird's Party

    For intimate dinner party gatherings, make the event extra special by putting some thought into your place settings. Adding chargers and napkin rings makes a great first impression when guests arrive but don't stop there. Make the event feel even more charming with DIY placeholders like these ornament ones. 

    DIY Glitter Ornament Place Card Holders from Bird's Party

  • 11 of 12

    Plan at Least One Game for the Holiday Party

    CC0 Public Domain//PXHere.com

    Break up the monotony of an uneventful holiday party with a memorable party game. There are an infinite amount of games to choose from, but a popular and humorous favorite is the donut on a string game. 

    Games to play:

    • Use string to dangle enough donuts for each guest at mouth height.
    • Optional: put a tarp or catch-all blanket below the game area to catch all the donut pieces. 
    • Have each player eat the donut from the string without it falling to the ground. 
    • The first person to finish the donut wins. 

    Donut Tree from Oh Happy Day

  • 12 of 12

    Create a Simple Photo Booth Spot Using a Printable Sign

    Set up a photo booth at your next holiday party
    Nella Designs / Etsy

    Encourage your guests to take memorable photos at your holiday party by designating a fun photo booth area. Setting up a printable sign is a virtually free way to remind everyone to strike a pose. 

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