Holiday spending series: Holiday party on a budget, say what?!

Even though I am a financial expert and teach the value of money, I have been struggling with the concept of having a party on a budget.

As I am writing this post, I realize that I am writing it mainly for myself. Even though I am a financial expert and teach the value of money, I have been struggling with the concept of having a party on a budget. To me that just sounds like an oxymoron.  I am very smart with my money in many aspects of my life, but my husband and I seem to fail when it comes to parties. I’m including my husband in this, as it’s just easier having someone to share the blame with!  I don’t know if we overspend on our parties due to our cultural background, or it could be due to a fear of being called cheapskates. Regardless, it’s time to stop!

I am determined to throw a great holiday party this year, and, based on my research, this is how I’m going to do it.

  1. There will be a buffet as opposed to sit-down dinner. Not only is the buffet great for mingling but, according to party planning experts, it costs less.
  2. Paper invitations and postage are pricey. Instead I will invite everyone by phone or Evite.
  3. Prior to creating a menu for my party, I will look through the flyers for special offers and sales in grocery stores, and create my party menu based on the items on sale.
  4. I will put together a party budget in great detail, and go out with cash in hand to prevent impulse shopping.
  5. There will be one or two pricey items on the menu and they will be displayed beautifully at the centre of the buffet table. They will be surrounded with filling spreads/sauces as well as different breads.  
  6. I will graciously accept any offers from guests to bring food as those will save me money and time. Further, I will ask my close family members to bring a dish that is their specialty.
  7. Fruit and vegetables are less expensive and can make other foods look great as part of an arrangement. I will not have a cold cuts platter this year, but instead I will save on the cost of cold cuts by buying less and wrapping up fruit, such as cantaloupe pieces.
  8. I will do all the work myself (i.e., cutting, baking, etc.) as opposed to ordering veggie/fruit platters or desserts. It will be a lot more work, but it should be doable and save us money if I enlist the help of my husband and our kids.  
  9. I will reuse the decorations from previous years, as well as have my children to make some new holiday decorations using their craft supplies. In addition, I will use candles and Christmas lights, which are cheap but add a dash of festivity to any party.
  10. Having a full bar can be pricey; instead we will offer a signature cocktail, such as a spiked eggnog,  and also wine and beer. As for the beer, I will look into purchasing a keg, as sometimes a keg is cheaper than the equivalent amount of bottled or canned beer.

About the Author

Maya Kuc Corbic, CPA, CA

Dinarii Financial Education Academy
Maya is a passionate advocate of financial literacy and is the founder of Dinarii Financial Education Academy. The academy’s mission is to teach children and youth financial literacy skills in a fun and engaging way, and give tools to parents to continue teaching personal finance at home. Dinarii offers student and parent workshops that qualify for the Parents Reaching Out Grant.