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‘Tis the season for holiday fun and celebrating with friends and family! Today I’m sharing my best tips for how to throw a holiday party on a budget!
I have many years of experience, both professionally and personally, hosting a variety of dinner parties and events. Today I’m sharing all my expert tips in this money saving tutorial on How To Throw A Holiday Party On A Budget!
If you guys have been reading and following Kitchen Concoctions for awhile then you know I love to throw parties! I can’t really tell you when I developed a passion for throwing parties, maybe it is my 10+ years working in the food and beverage industry, specifically as a personal chef and cater, but throwing parties for myself and others is something I love to do!
This time of year is when I do my most party planning, between hosting Friendsgiving, an annual white elephant holiday party, a Christmas brunch and several other events for clients; needless to say I’m busy.
I love all aspects of party planning, from developing the perfect menu, to fussing over the décor, to seeing all the guests have a great time. And whether I’m hosting a party for a client or myself, one very import thing is to stay on budget!
Since I host a dinner party at least once a month for friends and family, I am usually on a tight budget, so that I am able to continue hosting parties. Since I know many of you are also on tight budgets, especially during the holiday season, I thought today I would share some of my best tips for how to throw a holiday party on a budget, and it still look fancy and elegant! ?
How To Throw A Holiday Party On A Budget:
Invite Your Guests – Usually I try to keep my parties small, no more than about 12-15 people. Not only is this how many people I can comfortably fit in my house, this helps keep the cost of food down. If I do want to invite more people, then I usually make things more casual, and use nice paper goods instead of real plates, and won’t serve a full “sit down meal” (see below) and/or make it a potluck.
And while paper invites are traditional for things like a baby shower or graduation party, they can get expensive. So, for almost everything, holiday parties included, I usually do an online invite via Facebook or email, or simply send a group text or invite people in person.
The Décor – I usually keep my dinner party décor simple, using things I already have and try to only purchase pieces I can use all year round. No need to buy fancy, expensive china; a set of basic white plates looks good on any table! If I do want to add a pop of color to my place settings, I get some inexpensive (but that look fancy!) chargers to put under my plates.
A white tablecloth is a clean, classic look that will carry you through year round and can be dressed up with a table runner and/or centerpieces to match the occasion.
Specifically, for holiday parties I try to pull from the Christmas decorations I already have and repurpose them. A bowl full of ornaments is so easy and inexpensive since I already own a ton of ornaments. I also like to take vases or glass jars that I already own and use rosemary from my garden, fresh cranberries (which are so cheap this time of year) and a basic white candle to add a festive, yet, budget friendly, piece of holiday décor.
And fresh flowers are always nice to have at dinner parties, but there again, can be expensive when buying a bouquet. So, often I try to look for other plants or flowers, like succulents, potted herbs, or this mini poinsettia (that was only $2!!), and use these types of plants to add a pop of color and freshness to my décor. Simply replant them (if needed) in a cute pot or festive coffee mug or metal bucket. Not only are buying plants like these much cheaper, they will last way longer!
The Food – I am not ashamed to make my parties potluck, asking each guest to bring their favorite dish according to the theme of the dinner party. For example, for Friendsgiving I’ll always do the turkey and then ask guests to bring a side, appetizer or dessert. I’ll then try to get an idea of what each person is planning to bring and as the host, fill in with extra menu items as needed.
Another option is to not to serve a full meal and only serve appetizers or a dessert bar. If you go with this option, make sure your party doesn’t start around meal time, so that guest don’t show up super hungry expecting a full dinner.
And, if I want to host the entire meal myself, I try to choose dishes that are “showstoppers” but don’t cost a fortune. Like everyone loves this Pear and Pomegranate Salad, as it is colorful, festive (especially for holiday parties) and looks fancy. Yet, since it uses seasonal ingredients like pears and pomegranates that are usually on sale right now, you could make a huge bowl of this salad for just a few dollars.
I also like serving things like Cornish hens because it’s not your typical entrée, and people welcome the change especially when they get a lot of ham, turkey or brisket this time of year. Not to mention, Cornish hens are usually about the same price of a turkey and way less expensive than most other holiday dinner entrees like ham, brisket or prime rib.
For a recent holiday party I hosted, I made Honey Orange Glazed Cornish Hens, that browned beautifully, had a fresh seasonal flavor and looked stunning on a serving platter on the dinner table. The glaze is simple – orange juice, honey, butter, a little cayenne for heat and a little Kikkoman® Soy Sauce to balance all the flavors. I like using Kikkoman® Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce in a lot of my recipes (from marinades like the one mentioned above, to burgers, soups and chili recipes) because Kikkoman’s® Traditionally Brewed Soy Sauce brings out the “umami” taste in many dishes, not just Asian sauces and marinades, and really helps balance flavors and brings a dish together.
Since many of my clients and family members, myself included, are trying to reduce the sodium in their diet, I usually use the Kikkoman® Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, which still provides that great flavor. Kikkoman® also offers a variety of certified Gluten-Free products too, if you need gluten-free options!
At my recent holiday party, in addition to serving the Honey Orange Glazed Cornish Hens and Pear and Pomegranate Salad, I kept things simple and affordable with mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole and pecan pie. However, I dressed up these classic sides a little bit and made Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and instead of the classic fried onion topping for my green bean casserole used Kikkoman® Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs, seasoned with Parmesan cheese and herbs.
Another pro tip is that not everything has to be homemade. Sometimes it’s cheaper and saves a lot of time (time is money!) and stress to purchase things, like rolls, already pre-made at the grocery store. In fact, if you have to buy a lot of ingredients to make something, like a pie, then just go with a pie from the bakery and dress it up with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce or make a homemade flavored whipped cream, like this Cinnamon Honey Whipped Cream, which is delightful spread over a store-bought pumpkin pie!
Eliminate One or Two Things – When I host parties I always have these grand ideas and want to make all our favorite recipes. But there just isn’t the time or room in the budget! So, I make a list of what I want to serve and how I want to decorate, and then eliminate one or two things. Even though I have to let some things go, in the end it is for the better and the guests never know the difference!
Shop Smart – Usually when I host parties I get all my party supplies, from the décor and place settings, to all the recipe ingredients, like Kikkoman® Soy Sauce and Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs at Walmart. Not only is my Walmart less than 5 minutes from my house (super important if I forget something and need to make a last minute run to the store!), I can get everything I need at great prices and all in one place, saving not only money but time!
Are you ready to host your own holiday party? Stock up on Kikkoman® Soy Sauce and Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs (located on the breading aisle, NOT the Asian aisle) at your local Walmart for all your holiday recipes. Be sure and take advantage of these rebates (see below) valid on Kikkoman® Soy Sauce and Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs. And click here for more delicious recipes and holiday inspiration, or follow Kikkoman® online at www.KikkomanUSA.com, or on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!