How to Plan a Christmas Party on a Budget

by | Oct 31, 2023

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Are you looking to throw a memorable Christmas party without breaking the bank? Well, you’re in luck! With a little planning and creativity, you can host a fantastic holiday gathering that will leave your guests impressed. Here are some helpful tips to plan a Christmas party on a budget:

Set a Budget

Calculator surrounded by holiday presents and wearing a Santa hat

First things first, determine how much you’re willing to spend on your Christmas party. Having a clear budget in mind will help you make informed decisions and prioritize your expenses.

You can’t plan a party on a budget without the budget done first!

There’s a few ways you can figure out a budget for your party. First and easiest is to set a number based on how much extra money you have set aside to get the party done. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t in a position where we’ve saved up for a Christmas party. Instead, it often comes from other places.

If that sounds like you, try determining the budget based on a few must-haves (with some wiggle room for extras, if possible). For example, if you want a specific venue and need to buy food, find the costs of those and start your budget there.

Sadly you might have to cut out some things that you want if you don’t have enough money, but we have other ways to stretch a small budget so don’t be upset!

Choose Your Guest List Carefully

Group of friends having fun together at a Christmas party

Keep your guest list short and intimate to keep costs down. Stick to inviting close friends and family members who will truly appreciate your celebration. Remember, it’s all about quality over quantity!

The more people you invite, the more a party costs. This is true for food and drinks, but also decorations, space, etc. If the guest list exceeds the space you have that’s an issue!

If you’re dead set on having a big guest list, though, the biggest cost savings is going to be in food and venue expenses. Stick to affordable food and drink offerings (or have guests contribute) and try to find free or cheap party venues in your area.

Some places have venues to rent that only require a donation or small fee – ask around in your circle or on social media, you never know what’s out there.

Give it a Theme

Showing a party theme like an ugly Christmas sweater party

Opting for a theme will not only make your party more exciting but also provide a direction for your decorations and menu. Plus, themes can be as simple as “Ugly Sweater” or “Winter Wonderland,” requiring minimal effort and don’t cost a lot to pull off.

A theme will also make a stretched budget look larger because it feels more put together.

Tip: choose a theme that’s easy to decorate for and shop for. Bonus points if you can find one where second hand or cheap decorations will work!

DIY & Thrifted Decorations

Kids making DIY christmas decorations

When it comes to decorations, get creative and embrace the do-it-yourself approach. Use materials you already have at home, like string lights, ornaments, and festive fabrics, to add a touch of holiday magic to your space. Don’t forget to involve your kids or friends in the process – it’s a fun bonding activity!

Alongside homemade, look to thrift stores and online marketplaces for cheap Christmas decor. My favourites to get there are tablecloths, serving ware (like dishes and bowls), and small decorations.

Keep the Menu Affordable

Christmas cookie spread

Instead of taking the burden of preparing an entire feast, why not make it a potluck? Encourage your guests to contribute by bringing their favorite dishes, desserts, or drinks. This way, everyone gets to showcase their culinary skills while reducing your overall expenses.

It’s always cheaper to serve lunch over dinner, and cheaper still to skip meals and offer snacks only. To avoid serving a full meal, opt for a later evening party or mid-afternoon bash.

If you’re trying to plan a Christmas party on a really tight budget you can also host something that’s more informal and let your guests know to bring their own snacks and drinks because you won’t have any on hand. I get that this might be a huge no-no for some folks, but it’s getting more common amongst younger folks.

Craft a Signature Drink

Wine glass with drink inside with a Christmas background

Create a signature holiday drink to serve at your party. It can be something as simple as spiced cider or a festive cocktail. This adds a special touch without having to stock a full bar, saving you both time and money.

Be sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic options on hand for your party too. You can look for this stuff on sale in the weeks leading up to your party to take advantage of deals and entertain even cheaper.

Besides these options, also encourage your guests to BYOB – it allows everyone to enjoy what they like best without breaking the bank.

DIY Entertainment

Family having fun together at a Christmas party

Keep your guests entertained with some budget-friendly activities. Organize a fun gift exchange, set up a DIY photo booth with props, or create a playlist of everyone’s favorite holiday tunes for a lively dance session.

For music, use a smart speaker or borrow/rent one of those light up ones then stream one of your favourite holiday party playlists. The sound quality is great on these nowadays is amazing even if you’re in a larger space.

Shop Smart

Planning holiday shopping

Take advantage of sales, discounts, and coupons when purchasing party supplies, food, and beverages. Plan ahead and shop early to avoid last-minute stress and impulse purchases. Don’t be afraid to compare prices or buy in bulk – it can save you a significant amount of money.

You should also avoid overbuying for the party. While it’s good to save money by stocking up on some items beforehand, wait until you have your RSVPs back before picking up the most expensive items like meat and cheese.

Finally, be sure to hang onto receipts in case you have leftover items that can be returned.

Enlist Your Friends to Help

Friends decorating a Christmas tree together

Parties are more fun with friends but so is party planning! If you share a social circle consider asking a friend or family member to co-host the party and share the hosting expenses. That way you can both enjoy bigger parties while saving money.

Another way you can ask friends to help is with party-specifics. For example, if do you have a friend who bakes cakes as a hobby who can make something fun a lower price than a bakery? Or maybe your pals have some extra holiday decorations they don’t mind lending you for the event?

Make a list of what you need and ask around to see if others can help out. Don’t forget to invite everyone who helps to the party or that would be really awkward.

Celebrate the Season

Group of friends celebrating the Christmas season on a budget at a party

It’s Christmas and the point of holiday parties is to spend time with friends and loved ones, not impress them. If you can’t afford an extravagant holiday party then don’t host one – no one is expecting that from you. And if they are, honestly, they’re not worth celebrating with.

Keep the party about fun, laughter, and time together sharing the Christmas spirit.

That, alongside these tips to plan a Christmas party on a budget, are a surefire way to make the event be everything you wanted it to be… And more.

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