How to Entertain and Keep Costs Down During the Holidays

As I was doing a radio interview earlier this week, I was thinking about my own advice to the listeners. How do we cut costs during hard economic times, yet still entertain and invite others into our homes? It’s tricky, but there are some simple strategies to keep in mind. I promise that if you choose even 3 of my suggestions, and incorporate them into your entertaining during the holidays, you’ll be guaranteed to save money.

1. Plan ahead: Get your journal out or use WorkFlowy (daily summary emails sent to you of your lists that you make on your computer – nifty!) and document the parties or dinners ahead that you will be responsible for.

2. Delegate: Plan out the menus and leave room by each entree for you to fill in a name of who will be bringing what.

3. Be prepared: Think ahead to 2-3 easy meals for unexpected guests. You’ll spend less money when you are prepared, rather than running to the store for last-minute groceries.

4. Easy options: Keep it casual–less work and less cost. Plan a buffet style meal, an appetizer “open house,” or a brunch, where your guests bring a dish.

5. Use leftovers: With a casual event, use paper products from the prior year. Don’t get sucked in to buying all-new when you already have a stash. Better yet, stay “green” and use cloth napkins.

6. Use greenery of all sorts for decoration, and skip purchased flowers from the store. Go to the Christmas tree lots forremnant pine pieces.

7. Go in together on preparations. If you want to do an elaborate dinner party, go in with another couple and share the cost and work.

8. Progressive dinner: Plan a dinner that involves 4 couples, with each responsible for just one course.

9. Put perfectionism aside: Remember the reason for the season is to celebrate and reflect with family and friends. Don’t let your cooking, the cost, dining space, how your house is decorated, or busyness steal away the JOY and memories that you’ll create if you’ll only say YES.

What one thing is standing in your way of entertaining this holiday season?

Table setting above: White wedding dishes (20 years old), paper napkins, Dollar Store goblets, fresh greenery (free), water bottles from yard sales, ornaments and pinecones. Elegant and inexpensive. Today

I’m guesting over at {In}Courage today, if you want to join me over there

9 comments on “How to Entertain and Keep Costs Down During the Holidays”

  1. Pingback: Links Worth Sharing - Week of December 10, 2011 - Simply Frugal

  2. Pingback: Christmas Planning 2012 « NorthHantsMum

  3. One way that I’d prefer to cut down is when people ask what they can bring, I now tell them a bottle of wine or a fancy drink to share. Alcohol is probably the most expensive aspect of entertaining, and I can prepare much more food without having to pay for all of the alcohol too. And most people would probably welcome that idea because it’s easier for them to run and pick up a bottle of wine than it is for them to prepare a dish for about 10 people, for example. Also, I’m cutting back on calories and fat this year, so by not letting people bring food, I can control what is going in my mouth (and subsequently to my waist) this holiday season.

  4. Wonderful tips! In the past year I have switched my dishes, serving pieces and linens to all white. Goes with anything and is suitable for all occassions.
    For those with limited dining space, I have two girlfriends who came up with solutions that worked wonderfully (just depends on your local weather). One cleared out the middle of her family room and set up tables there and the the other cleared out her garage and had Thanksgiving dinner out there using borrowed folding tables and chairs.

  5. It is so true to keep it simple, especially at this time of year. Our dining room table is set with garage sale Christmas dishes we bought years ago, and decorated with items we already have. Every year I repurpose, re invent, and re use what ever is in our decoration tubs…… and it always looks fresh and new when you put it together differently. You can entertain less expensively, just think outside of the box!!!
    Blessings to you and yours
    Curtis & Sherrie

  6. I’m planning a couple of parties- I agree with you using what you have is key- I’m having a couple gatherings this month….a cookie exchange and a dinner party. Using fresh greens etc. from my yard- nothing fancy…just white napkins I’ve had forever, white dishes-etc. candles and mini lights add magic to any party. The only things new at this party will be the food =)
    Thanks for your tips- always great advice here.
    Happy day

  7. Thanks for some really great tips on mixing and matching, and keeping it real.

  8. Distance is what’s stopping me from entertaining this year. However that being said, most of the family will get here for the annual gathering on the 18th. I’m keeping it simple by preparing the main course and asking everyone to bring either an appetizer or dessert. I’ve used to send out the potluck list and people just choose what they want to bring. It’s a great tool that I use all the time for parties.
    Thanks (again) for the tips. You always manage to put things into perspective.

  9. Not enough room! We host the family Christmas Dinner every year and even though the family has grown over the years we have managed to fit around the table. Cozy, but we fit. This year there are a couple of other people who we want to have join us. I can’t leave them out just because it spoils my table setting but don’t know quite what I’ll do. There aren’t enough kids to do a kid table (one 14, one 9) If I serve food buffet style I still have to find a place for everyone to sit. Do you have a magic “space maker”?


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