How to Entertain on a Budget

By Erin Palmer for Suncoast Credit Union

Entertaining — whether it’s the major holidays, the minor holidays, or just an opportunity to gather with family and friends — doesn’t have to be expensive. You can throw a great party with these tips.

Shop Smart with Some Planning

As you put together your menu, start by figuring out the ingredients you always have in your pantry. Some of your staple ingredients can be the beginning of your meal plan.

Next, go online and look up the flyers at your local grocery stores. You’ll be able to get an idea of which ingredients are on sale at specific stores. Buy in bulk when it makes sense.

Think about how you can get the most out of your food purchases. For example, slow cookers or smokers allow you to get a lot of flavor into a dish without a lot of ingredients.

See whether your credit card offers double rewards on groceries, and get paid to buy them!

If you’re going to serve drinks, consider making a signature drink rather than have a bunch of cocktail options. For example, a batch of sangria is both delicious and inexpensive.

Use your planning to save on décor as well. You can DIY some decorations or use items you already have.

Have Guests Contribute

Guests usually offer to pitch in when they come to visit. Or they come bearing gifts, like flowers or wine. Make the most of this and have your guests contribute something to the festivities.

You can go full out and make the event a potluck. Or just ask each group to bring something simple, like ice or a veggie tray, then you can take care of the larger items.

Your guests won’t have to think about what to bring and you will save a little money. Everyone knows how much time and money goes into hosting a holiday event, so they’ll be happy to help.

Get Creative with a Theme

Particularly around the holidays, it’s not just one meal or event. You may have one holiday event at work, one with friends, one with each side of the family, and so on. So even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you still might have holiday entertaining to do with one or more of your groups.

For these smaller get-togethers, a theme can help keep costs down. For example, a holiday brunch can be much more cost-effective than a full meal because eggs, pancakes and other brunch dishes are fairly inexpensive to make. Or you can skip a full meal and host a holiday cookie decorating party or dessert only potluck.

A theme doesn’t have to only be about food. You can also use a theme to help plan inexpensive activities for your group. For example, host a holiday movie night or a tree-decorating party.

You can even gather your group and go volunteer together. You’ll save money, have fun and help to make the holidays special for someone in need.

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