Sense & Centsibility Blog
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Five Cheap Ideas for Hosting a Holiday Party

The holidays are simply on the brain right now. Christmas, Hannukah, New Year's, Festivus, or whatever you celebrate, parties are often part of the territory. If you're like many Americans, you may be traveling over the holiday, buying presents, baking, taking part in Secret Santa or ugly sweater parties, and more. While the holidays should be fun, they can be stressful for the average person because of all the running around... and not to mention the cost of everything. So if you're planning on hosting a party, here are simple party ideas to keep it cheap, yet still fun.

  1. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

    Okay I probably should have said 'spoiler alert' in the intro. An ugly sweater party is a great way to have some fun with your friends &/or family. As long as you don't go crazy buying a $50 sweater, it's easy to keep this kind of party low-cost. Make it BYOB and co-host it with a friend and the two of you can provide a couple appetizers each.
  2. Twist on the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

    Another idea to make an ugly sweater party even more fun is to make it an ugly sweater gift swap. All you need to do is treat it like a Secret Santa gift exchange, except you're exchanging ugly sweaters. Think how hilarious it will be to see people in ugly sweaters picked out by their friends. Plus there are plenty of free Secret Santa websites where you can set this up. Don't forget to take pictures!!
  3. White Elephant Party

    Sure, getting a present is nice. But not everyone can afford to spend the same amount as others... and not everyone is a great shopper. (Just keeping it real.) So instead of putting the pressure of spending money on extravagant gifts, make having fun the point of getting together. Find a previous gift that was a dud or head to the dollar store for something cheap or just go for the funny factor and pick something out from your house. In my in-laws' family we had "traveling" 'N Sync bobble-head dolls; they were wrapped up and given to a different family member year after year...with quite creative wrapping jobs to hide what they were. I will never forget it and we still laugh about it to this day!
  4. Potluck Dinner Party

    First of all, who doesn't like food, right? Instead of a gift exchange with friends or going out and spending a fortune at dinner, bring your friends in and have a potluck. You could make it a theme like Mexican, Italian, or appetizers only, for instance. When everyone contributes, it's a huge money saver...on top of not ditching the obligation of buying each other presents.
  5. Festivus (or Other Theme) Party

    Okay so some people out there are thinking I'm crazy for bringing up Festivus, because what the heck is it? For those that don't know, it's from Seinfeld; George's family celebrated Festivus every December, with the Festivus pole, the airing of grievances, and the feats of strength. All you need to do it have some episodes of Seinfeld ready to watch and grab some snacks (pretzels, perhaps?) and beverages. And maybe air some fake grievances or do some fun versions of the feats of strength. No worries if you're not into Festivus because this is just one of many themes you could try. Think about what you and your friends like to watch (other sitcoms like Friends, 80s movies, Christmas movies, etc.). And if you can dress like the theme, that makes it even more fun.

As with many holiday-related posts over the last few weeks, the underlying theme is to make the holidays about being with each other, having fun, and making memories.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.