How to Strategize and Save on Holiday Parties and Gift Giving

By Patricia Guevarra

Party-goers raise their glasses of champagne to toast at a Christmas party

Aside from cheery music and predictable movies, the holidays are mostly known for two things: overeating and overspending. Eating to our hearts’ content doesn’t sound that bad, but we want to refrain from overspending this holiday season — and between hosting parties and shopping for loved ones, it’s alarmingly easy to break the bank as the year comes to an end.

Here are a few tips to help you save money on holiday parties and gift giving this year.

Consider co-hosting your party
Hosting your party will be less of a nightmare if you’re sharing the responsibilities with one or two other people. When I host parties, I always have two of my best friends co-host. I’m in charge of providing and decorating the space (usually my home), providing essentials (utensils, cups, plates, music, etc.), and creating an invite list. The other hosts divvy up the other responsibilities: sending out invitations, organizing food and beverages, bringing games, etc. If we need to buy anything, we either split up purchases so that each of us spend a similar amount or pitch in evenly and have one person buy what we need. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Budget for everything
Start listing out everything you’ll need for the party — decorations, booking a space, music, food, beverage, cutlery, activities, photos and so on. On top of that, start budgeting for your gift-giving while you’re at it! Set aside money for gifts for your loved ones, gifts for the holiday party at work, gifts for hosts of other parties you might be attending … There’s a lot to think about, so make sure you create an exhaustive budget.

Two glasses of white wine with Christmas ornaments surrounding and a Christmas tree in the backTry to make things as DIY as possible
This mostly applies to décor and I have one word for you: Pinterest. Download it, peruse it, embrace it and never let it go because it will be your floating device during all the hectic party-planning this season. Pinterest won’t just help you with decorations; it will also give you handy tips and ideas for invitations, food, setup and more. Let it do all the work for you.

Consider making your party cocktail or potluck style
BYOF — Bring your own feast! Having an appetizer-only or potluck-style party will cut down on catering costs or, even more stressful, buying a ton of groceries and cooking an entire dinner for your guests. Why not make the guests do a little work? This way, you can also try the very many holiday dishes your friends and family like to have during this time of year. Win-win!

Trim your lists
Do you really need to invite that one high school friend whose only communication with you involves sending birthday greetings? Probably not. Think about your invite list, and make sure you only invite the people you can’t picture celebrating the holidays without. Same goes for your gift-giving list! You aren’t Santa Claus. Give those meaningful gifts to meaningful people.

White elephant > Secret Santa
If your party guests or coworkers want to partake in a gift-giving game, white elephant is a cheaper and easier option, mostly because you aren’t shopping for a specific person. Secret Santa leaves a lot of room for overspending, especially if you’re like me and want to shower your person with everything on their wish list just to make them happy. White elephant (especially with a maximum spending limit) is the way to go!Christmas gifts wrapped in red and plaid paper, tied into a three-tier stack with a golden bell tied to the bow

Figure out gift alternatives with your significant other
As far as your significant other goes, there are always alternatives you can discuss instead of getting each other flashy, overpriced gifts. Maybe you want to save that money for travel, or maybe you’d rather have an intimate homemade dinner date instead. Purchasing a gift that costs hundreds of dollars isn’t the only way you can show your partner your love. Try something more thoughtful.

Consider baking or cooking something instead
Edible gifts are my favorite gifts. Cookies? Brownies? Pie? You name it, I want itThere’s something special about knowing that someone took the time out of their day to make you something you like. It’s heart (and tummy) warming.

Shop smart!
If you plan on buying your gifts and party essentials, make sure you take every precaution to shop smart this holiday season and protect your identity while you’re at it!

As you plan your parties and decide on gifts, just remember that the most important thing about this holiday season is spending time with your loved ones, and you don’t need to break the bank to do that! To learn more about optimizing your savings during this time of year, tune in to our #CreditChat on PeriscopeYouTube Live, and Twitter.

Christmas dinner spread with the hashtag #CreditChat in the top corner
Join our #CreditChat on Twitter on Wednesday, December 12th, at 3 p.m ET. This week, we’re guiding you through holiday parties and gift giving.

Topic: How to Strategize and Save on Holiday Parties and Gift Giving      

When: December 12, 2018, at 3 p.m. ET. 

Easy ways to chat with us on Twitter: Tchat

The panel will include: Rod Griffin: Director of Public Education at Experian; Cameron Huddleston: Personal Finance Expert; Andrew Schrage: CEO at Money Crashers; Dr. Sean Stein Smith: Assistant Professor at Lehman College (CUNY).

Questions We’ll Discuss:

  • Q1: What are the most effective time and day to host a holiday party?
  • Q2: What are some cost-effective meal plans for a holiday party?
  • Q3: What are some fun strategies for gift-giving at holiday parties?
  • Q4: What’s a good way to save on seasonal decorations?
  • Q5: What’s the best way to save on drinks for holiday parties?
  • Q6: What are some fun free activities to entertain guests?
  • Q7: What are some thrifty ideas to keep kids entertained during holiday parties?
  • Q8: How do you trim your holiday gift list?
  • Q9: What are some great gift alternatives for your significant other?
  • Q10: Any final tips on how to strategize and save on holiday parties and gift giving?

Christmas present and card surrounded by pine leaves, a bell and candy canes

If you’ve never heard about #CreditChat, here is a brief overview:

Relevant articles:

Relevant chats on YouTube: