The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Entertainment

December 12, 2011

Throwing a holiday party? How to entertain on a budget

In case you're hosting one or more holiday parties this year, here are some ways to keep your costs at a minimum, all while managing the inevitable last-minute stress. These suggestions are from Farnoosh Torabi, financial editor at the online bill-management site Manilla.

Email invites: It’s a holiday gathering, not a wedding. There's no need to spend any money on invitations. Sites like Paperlesspost.com and Evite.com offer great online invitations at no cost. It’s also better for the environment.

Buy in bulk: Shopping for ingredients around the holidays to entertain a large group can really add up, so buying in bulk at retail warehouses like Costco and Sam's Club may be a smart way to save. From paper plates to beverages, snacks and dip, stock up and save. Just make sure you don't overbuy, especially perishable items like fruits, veggies and meat, which could go to waste if not consumed in good time. Determine your guests' diets and food preferences before buying too much of any one item.

Involve guests: For large parties, you may want to host a potluck dinner, where guests bring a dish of their own, saving you time and money. Designate certain guests for bringing entrees, others beverages and desserts. Or, if you'd rather handle the food, ask guests to bring a bottle of wine of their choice, since alcoholic beverages can be a major expense. If you're not into the potluck thing, you may want to consider a baking or cooking party, where guests bring ingredients and you all share in the preparation. This is better suited for smaller parties.

Just apps: Hosting a holiday party from, say, 5-6:30 p.m. or 8-10 p.m., gives you permission to simply offer appetizers or desserts – and save a bundle. On the invitations, just mention that you’ll be offering "light bites" and "cocktails" so guests know not to arrive with empty stomachs.

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