It's that time of year when you invite your friends, family and coworkers to celebrate the holidays. Many feel the pressure to splurge on entertaining.

According to a study by Leger for the Retail Council of Canada, Canadians in 2018 will spend 19% of their holiday budget on food, alcohol and sweets for holiday parties and 4% on home decorations.

Decking the halls for less can be just as memorable as the most expensive holiday bash. From creative decorations to unique approaches to gift giving, here are some tips on how to throw a holiday party without breaking the bank.

Decking the halls

The right decorations help set the festive mood. But decor is also one of the expenses that quickly drives up the cost of throwing a fête. An important first step is to decide how much you can spend and stick to the budget. Choosing homemade options are a fun, easy and cheap way to decorate without breaking the bank. Cut up old Christmas cards to make ornaments or design your own paper snowflakes. If you're feeling crafty, make your own mini disco ball ornaments with broken CDs or weave pieces of yarn onto cardboard for small star decorations.

Edible decorations provide extra savings by doubling as decorations and treats — think gingerbread houses, candy canes, colourful chocolates and popcorn tinsel. If you prefer more classic decorations, buying second hand items in thrift shops, or checking out the options on Craigslist and local Facebook groups are other ways to reduce the cost of your soirée.

On the Menu

Catering eats up another large portion of any party budget. Finding creative ways to feed your guests is key to having fun while keeping costs down.

Ditch the delivery service and develop your own homemade menu. Use recipe generators such as MyFridgeFood to choose a meal based on ingredients you already have in the fridge or that your supermarket has on sale. You can also get your guests involved in the catering by turning the party into a potluck. Everyone brings their favourite holiday dish to share, which saves money and time.

The Joy of Giving

It's hard to imagine a holiday shindig without a gift exchange, which can quickly transform into an expensive activity. If giving gifts are an important part of your traditions, there are low cost alternatives to everyone buying everyone else a present. Host an affordable Secret Santa where each person buys a single gift under $10 — either for a specific person or to be randomly chosen from under the tree. For a free version of the game, hold a regifting Secret Santa. The rule is simple: everyone chooses an item that is cluttering their house and gifts it in an effort to give the object a second life. There are plenty of variations on the game, so find the version that works best for you and your guests.

Dressing the part

You've mastered the food, gifts and decoration on a budget. Now it's time to dress the part. Instead of buying more clothes, go shopping in your own closet. Pair your favourite outfit with new accessories to bring a fresh look to a staple item. Try a new combination of two items you've never paired before. If you feel like you have nothing to wear, ask a friend if you can borrow a piece to get a new look or rummage through your local thrift shop to find the right look for your party.



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