With the holiday season comes a rush of holiday parties, and no one would blame you for joining in on the fun and hosting a party of your own. However, if you’re like me, your party vision far outweighs your party budget. A distinct lack of funds doesn’t have to mean a lack of parties! If your friends and family have a sense of fun, consider throwing one of these alternatives to your average fancy holiday bash.
A base for all these parties is a good, old-fashioned potluck. You provide the venue and party supplies, and have each guest bring a dish to pass. You can do all appetizers, all desserts, or a smorgasbord of all sorts!
White Elephant Gifts
Everyone’s probably familiar with the White Elephant style of gift giving. There are some variations on it, and it seems every family has their own twist. Mine does the ever-classy dollar store White Elephant exchange. It’s become a competition to see who can find the best-worst thing for a buck, and we search all year for the perfect gift.
There are variations on the exchange process itself, too, and we come down on the side of keeping the gifts wrapped until the very end. You draw numbers and in order, everyone chooses a gift. You then redraw numbers and everyone can steal a gift or keep their own. Then you go around the circle and open the gifts, revealing the amazing, glorious piece of randomness you end up with. Some especially precious gifts might end up in the exchange year after year! It’s a fun activity that takes a nice, long time, and everyone has a good laugh.
Cheap Wine Party
Task your party guests with bringing a bottle of wine under $10 to your party! Along with hearty appetizers (which are a must when there’s booze involved), everyone can sample the wines, play wine trivia games and vote on the best and worst taste and labels. You can even do a blind taste test to disprove the idea that all wines taste the same and prove that cheap wines might be just as tasty as expensive wines!
If you’re crafty, you can make some nifty prizes or favors like chalkboard wine glasses or cork wine charms. Otherwise, discount stores can yield some decent prizes like coasters, wine stoppers or wine glasses.
Have a group of friends or family who like to buy gifts, but everyone already has everything they need or want? Try a Secret Santa exchange with a twist! A few weeks before the party, have everyone draw the name of someone else, either in person or via an online name-drawing site. Each person is tasked to buy their person a toy she or he might have enjoyed as a child.
At the party, do the normal gift exchange, let food and drink flow freely, and then post-party, bundle up all the toys and donate to Toys for Tots, a local shelter, or do a search to find another worthy cause. It’s a win-win situation – you and your friends or family get to have the fun of shopping for, wrapping and opening presents, and you’ll be making some kids’ holidays a little brighter.
Help a Senior
A variation on the Secret Santa toy exchange is to exchange items you can then donate to seniors. Contact a local senior center or search for churches that have a senior outreach program. Pajamas, large-print reading material, personal hygiene items, outdoor weather gear and kitchen supplies are all appreciated.
If you’ve got time, check out more of what seniors need. A donation of your time could make a big difference in someone’s life. If you don’t have a ton of time, have a snow-shoveling party to help out elderly neighbors before retiring to your home to enjoy food and drink.
Holiday Lights Viewing
Put on your cold-weather gear, pack a Thermos of hot cocoa and a bag of popcorn, and take a walk around your neighborhood to view the holiday lights displays. If your neighborhood is lacking in festive-looking houses, your group can take a drive through a light display. Use the Christmas Light Finder to find your local Clark Griswold-worthy display, or just take a stroll through your downtown area.
When you’re all chilled to the bone, retire to your house for a hot appetizer or soup and conversation! Warmth is key after spending time outdoors. If you don’t have a fireplace, a Yule log video completes the picture – your guests might not be able to feel the heat, but the image certainly warms the heart!
Board Game Party
Gather your gang for a board game party, and enjoy food and drinks while you occupy your brains with some game fun! Try your hands at an old favorite like Trivial Pursuit or a more creative game like Cranium. If wordplay is your bag, try Apples to Apples, or its much more risqué cousin, Cards Against Humanity. For an adventurous crowd, download a holiday murder mystery kit.
No matter what kind of holiday bash you throw, keeping it simple will save you from busting your budget and keep you focused on having a wonderful time with friends and family.
Do you have any other favorite budget-friendly party tips? Share in the comments!