Party planners rejoice! It’s the most festive time of year, so whether you’ve been planning your annual seasonal soiree since last year or just decided to throw something together for tomorrow night, there’s no need to get your tinsel in a tangle. Here are some ways to make your holiday parties merry and bright – without breaking the budget. (Hint: Social network searches and your local dollar store are a holiday host’s best friend for these easy entertaining ideas!)
Keep it casual
Especially if it’s a last-minute gig, casual is the way to go (no black tie required). Hang a homemade wreath on the door and throw it open for an impromptu, socially-distanced holiday open house* where friends can drop by ‘as is’ on their way home from work. Keep it to a couple hours so no major time commitment on their part or yours.
Decorate with what you have
Plain glass bowls and glasses are the wise party planner’s way to go. Fill them with leftover ornaments that didn’t make it on the tree or use as candy dishes for your favorite brightly wrapped sweets. Create stunning centerpieces with a bowl full of fragrant scented pinecones, oranges and a few sprigs of holly. Wrap some garland or greenery from your garden around your everyday LED candles. Place a simple candy cane or piece of gold-wrapped chocolate on dinner plates. Use plain red, green, gold and silver disposable plates, cups and napkins to mix, match and brighten up the buffet in place of pricier table settings.
Make the menu simple
The largest expense for most parties, of course, is food, so keep it simple. Simple to prepare, serve and for your guests to enjoy. Think tapas-style plates and appetizers. Expecting more company? Casseroles made in your slow cooker can help save time and money. Instead of an open bar, serve a spirited or non-alcoholic punch (don’t forget the eggnog!) and leave the rest to BYOB. As it’s the season of giving and sharing, invite guests to bring a side dish, appetizer or dessert, too. Here’s one of my family’s favorites that’s always a hit at holiday parties:
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 package frozen Italian meatballs
1 package miniature smoked cocktail sausages
1 C thick & spicy BBQ sauce
1 jar apricot preserves
Throw everything in slow cooker and cook on low for 2-4 hours till warm and serve!
Pick a seasonal playlist
Get guests “boppin’ around” the Christmas tree with a playlist on your favorite streaming service. There are lots of holiday playlists to suit any musical style to make your own or have chose one for you. Set the volume at a comfortable level so your guests can enjoy hearing their favorites while still carrying on a conversation.
Plan some reindeer games
Fake indoor snowballs are this party season’s must-have. And they’re cheap. Order a bucket online and have an old-fashioned snowball fight to liven things up. Great idea for keeping kids entertained, too. Need more inexpensive holiday game ideas? You can find a variety of inflatable antler ring toss games at local retailers or DIY versions online, along with tons of other quick and easy games like pin the nose on Rudolph. Make up your own round of holiday trivia for older guests and see who really knows the names of all eight of Santa’s reindeer or what your true love gives you on each of the 12 Days of Christmas.
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*Entertain safely during the holidays. Here’s a reminder of current CDC guidelines on in-person gatherings.