Sense & Centsibility Blog

Twitter Thursday: Strategize to Save on Holiday Parties and Gifts

The holidays are often riddled with expensive parties and endless gift opportunities. We joined Experian's weekly Twitter Chat once again to discuss our strategies to save a little cash during this often financially stressful time of the year.

Strategize to Save on Holiday Parties and Gifts: Twitter Chat

Q1: What is the most effective time and day to host a holiday party?

A1: Hosting a brunch holiday party rather than a dinner party can reduce your cost drastically. Serving a brunch with egg based dishes instead of meat centered courses will be much cheaper. Plus, by focusing on brunch you can bypass the wine.

Q2: What are some cost-effective meal plans for a holiday party?

A2: Stick to less complicated dishes with affordable ingredients that can feed a large group of people. Main courses like turkey and ham are where you can get the most bang for your buck.

Search your local grocery store ads for deals and coupons in advance to plan your shopping trip around the savings. Another great option to save on food cost at your party is to host a holiday potluck.

Q3: What are some fun strategies for gift-giving at holiday parties?


  • White elephant: A white elephant exchange works well with groups who have a good sense of humor. Each person will bring in a wrapped gift that will be placed in the center. The first person will choose a gift from the pile. After that each person will have the option to choose a gift from the pile or steal the previous person’s gift.  What makes the white elephant gift exchange different is the type of presents. White elephant gifts are usually weird or funny items or unwanted items that are regifted.
  •  Homemade gift exchange: With a homemade gift exchange everyone has the opportunity to create something special for a particular person or you can set it up so the gift may be given to anyone.
  • Book Exchange: Grab one of your favorite books, write a special note inside and then wrap it. To decide who receives which book, simply draw names from a hat.

Q4: What’s a good way to save on seasonal decorations?

A4: If you can, wait until after the holidays to purchase decorations. Many stores put all their holiday items on sale December 26 and the discounts continue to get better with each day. If you can’t wait until after the holidays, price matching is one way to save.

Many stores like Target, Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond will price match a competitor’s price saving you the hassle of multiple stops. Another great alternative is to create your own decorations.

Pinterest has an abundance of DIY ideas. You may even have items right outside your front door you can use like pine cones, bundles of wood, and twigs.

Q5: What’s the best way to save on drinks?

A5: Consider hosting a hot cocoa bar rather than alcohol. Lots of fun and much cheaper.

Q6: What are some fun free activities to entertain guests?


  • Who am I?: Each player draws from a pile of index cards with the name of a Christmas related character and without looking, sticks it to his or her head. Everyone has a chance to ask “yes” or “no” questions the rest of the night to find out who they are.
  • Christmas Charades
  • White Elephant Gift Exchange

Q7: What are some thrifty ideas to keep kids entertained during holiday parties?

  • A7: Make popcorn and set up a fun movie area. Let them choose a holiday movie they haven’t seen in a while.
  • Holiday karaoke is another great activity, but be prepared it could get loud.
  • Holiday craft station. Find an area in your house where you can set up a craft station. Have a few different crafts with instructions and supplies for the kids to make. If there are older kids at the party have them help the younger kids.

Q8: How do you figure out who will make the cut on your list of gift-giving?

A8: First, set a realistic budget. Next, write a list of who you wish to buy a gift for so you know how much you can afford on each. If you determine you can’t afford to buy everyone on your list a gift, be honest with your friends and families and let them know. They may also be in similar financial positions and be relieved to hear you’re not exchanging gifts this year.

Q9: What are some great gift alternatives for your significant other?

A9: Does your significant other dread a specific household chore? Give them a note explaining that you will take over that chore for a set period of time. Remember if you say you are going to do this chore, then you really need to do it. Another great alternative gift for this holiday season is cleaning the inside and outside of their vehicle. If you can, try to do it without them knowing. Then simply leave a note on the dashboard.

Q10: Any final tips on how to strategize and save on holiday parties and gift giving?

A10: Plan ahead and stick to your holiday budget. Don't be afraid to communicate your budget restrictions with friends and family — they might be thinking the exact same thing! We wish you a financially fit holiday season!

Answers to the Twitter Chat were provided by LSS Financial Counselor Tasha Symiczek.