Celebrate the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank
Stay on a Budget during the Holidays
by Andrea Woroch
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and that means a busy schedule full of holiday parties with friends, families, coworkers and neighbors. Depending on your social scene and business obligations, your calendar may quickly fill up with back-to-back festivities, all during the time of year that is most hectic and expensive for many. So how to stay financially sane during the holiday-party season? Here are several tips on how to host, gift and dress up for less.
Find Your Go-To Dish
Some parties may be potluck-style, and its best to have an arsenal of quick go-to dishes to bring along. Skip the store-bought cookie platter in favor of homemade fare, like these easy holiday appetizers from Better Homes and Gardens.
Become Betty Crocker
Since pre-made treats are marked up nearly 300 percent at supermarkets and bakeries, skip store-bought in favor of treat mixes or even no-bake desserts. Your wallet and your taste buds will thank you.
No holiday party is complete without a festive punch, but drink concoctions laden with every flavor of liqueur can get pricey. Instead, mix seasonal fruit juices with a splash of rum, or add champagne to your favorite juice cocktail. You can typically find liquor for 30-percent less at warehouse liquor stores, so keep that in mind as you stock up on spirits.
Though the holidays represents the one time you bring out the fine china for guests, it’s not the most practical approach when hosting an informal dinner party in your home. Instead, head to your dollar store for disposable (but festive!) serving ware for a frugal approach to supplies — and super easy cleanup.
Secret Santa Rules
Coordinate a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange among friends and coworkers to cut down on the cost of gifts this season. Elfster.com is a great site to help coordinate the masses without revealing gift givers. Set a budget for presents and keep it reasonable at $15 or $20.
Stock Up on Hostess Gifts
You can never go wrong with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates when it comes to gifting the hostess, but it’s wise to pick up a few generic gifts while you are out shopping for presents. Candles, scented lotions and even ornaments are the perfect hostess gifts. Having extra presents stashed away for last-minute needs will keep you from picking up overpriced goods when in a pinch.
Keep it simple, silly! Gift cards represent practical alternatives to traditional hostess gifts, and you can order several at a discount from sites like GiftCardGranny.com for savings of up to 30 percent.
If you’re tired of your current dress collection, your friends are likely feeling the same about what’s in their closet. Host a dress swap party to find new (to you) garments perfect for holiday parties, and help your friends at the same time.
I recently found a black lace dress with gold accents — a very on-trend look — at Forever21 for $15. This store is filled with inexpensive dresses perfect for holiday parties and events. Though these garments are made poorly (hence the rock-bottom price tag), you won’t feel bad ditching it after one wear.
Dress Up Your LBD
Your go-to little black dress (LBD) is perfect for all the holiday parties on your schedule. The key is to switch up accessories to freshen your look for each event. Printed tights, bold pumps, chunky necklaces or a flashy blazer can spice up your basic dress for any festive event.
Rent Designer Looks
When it comes to black-tie holiday events, you may need a more formal look. At RentTheRunway.com, you can find designer dresses and gowns to rent for a small charge. Select the dress you want and they’ll send you two sizes to ensure you find the right fit. After the party, return the dress in a pre-labeled envelope and they’ll cover dry cleaning.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.
For all media inquiries, please contact Andrea Woroch at 970-672-6085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.