Christmas on a budgetCelebrate the holiday season while spending less

Eating, drinking and being merry can get expensive during the holiday season, but you can still enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank. Check out these money-saving strategies for entertaining on a budget this season and beyond.

Email Invitations

Unless your gathering is ultra-formal, skip paper invitations and send festive e-vites instead. They are free, eco-friendly and more likely to get a prompt response.

Skip Dinner

Plan your holiday part for a non-meal time, like 8 to 10 pm, and serve up delicious appetizers or desserts instead of a full meal. Mention on the invitations that you’ll be offering cocktails and “light bites” so no one shows up with an empty stomach. Then make enough pigs-in-a-blanket, cheese-and-cracker platters and candied nuts for everyone to sample.

Limit Your Bar

Limiting your bar is a great way to save money while still ensuring your guests will have a good time. Serve wine only, and buy it in bulk to save some cash, or stick to a special signature holiday cocktail, like a citrus sangria, hot buttered rye or bourbon punch. Just make sure you have water and soda on hand for non-drinkers.

Involve Your Guests

The holidays are a time for sharing, and potlucks save you time, effort and money. Invite your guests to bring their favorite seasonal sides or desserts while you supply the entree and alcohol. You can even host a cookie swap where everyone brings a sweet treat and goes home with a sampling of confections.

Use Simple Decorations

Deck the halls without breaking your budget by working with what you already have. Place candles on the mantle, turn on the lights on the Christmas tree and use a basket of colorful ornaments as a centerpiece.

Limit Gift Swaps

If a gift swap is a holiday tradition for your friends or family, you don’t have to end it just because you are on a budget. Instead, play Secret Santa and just buy for one person instead of the whole group. Set a spending limit for presents and focus on finding a thoughtful gift instead of focusing on the price tag.