There is a reason this season is called “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” ~it is a joyous time to gather with family and friends. Everyone loves to open their home when it is beautifully decorated and entertain. Calendars are booked with holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and multiple course sit-down dinners from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve.

Whether you are hosting or attending these fabulous events the cost of food, beverages, and hostess gifts all add up and can take the jingle out of your bells. However, a little planning in advance can help you maintain your holly jolly spirit and keep your budget in check.

Regardless of the type of holiday event you are hosting (holiday dinner, cookie exchange, cocktail party, or white elephant party), use the following steps:

MAKE A LIST:Make a list of all the people you want to invite to your event. Knowing the total count will help you set an accurate budget and determine the theme of your party based on the number of guests.

SET A BUDGET: Take the time to determine andwrite down the total amount you can afford to spend on the event you are hosting. Then, break down the amount into categories (food, beverages, dessert, decorations, gifts) and note the anticipated amount for each. Use a simple chart like the one below to document your budget:


Holiday Event Budget

Event & Date_____________




Next, research the cost of each category and make certain that your estimated amounts will allow you to purchase enough for all of your guests and that each amount is within your budget. If your numbers are off, review by doing the following.

SCALE BACK:If the cost of any one category is too high, trim back by either adjusting the number of guests you are inviting or changing the theme or menu. For example, if you are hosting a sit-down dinner holiday party, either change to an appetizer party, or reduce the number of main dishes and choose to have more appetizers. More times than not, guests prefer appetizers over several main dishes as they are juggling several holiday events (sometimes, more than one on the same date) and prefer to nibble, mingle, and not overeat.

ALLOW GUESTS TO CONTIBUTE:If the thought of cutting out guests makes you feel like the Grinch, allow guests to contribute and bring items. Guests alwaysoffer to “bring something” and allowing guests to do so, makes the occasion far less stressful and helps reduce entertaining expenses. Additionally, you are able to spend more time enjoying your guests versus in the kitchen.

CREATE A THEME:Get creative and make the evening fun! There are loads of fun ideas on the internet from Flannel & Frost to Mistletoe & Margaritas! Find a theme and have guests sign up to bring a festive libation, a scrumptious appetizer, or a decadent dessert that compliments your theme. Guests love to showcase their holiday favorite(s) and creative dishes make for fun conversations!

DECORATIONS:Keep it simple. You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorations to make your home festive. During Thanksgiving, take a walk outside, gather beautiful leaves, and use them to decorate your table. For the holidays, find pine cones, spray paint each, and use to dress-up your table. Simple sprays of mistletoe, holly or tree branches with berries also provide lovely splashes of festive decor.

GIFTS:Attending a party during the holiday season includes a gift for the hostess and these little goodies add up. Give the gift of homemade treats to each hostess versus scrambling to find the perfect little treasure. You can either bake a treat, make a holiday jelly or jam, or grab a Mason Jar and layer it with the ingredients of your favorite holiday cookie mix. Dress up each gift by attaching a cute thank you note, recipe, and a festive ribbon and you have a unique and thoughtful gift! You can make several of these special treats for the cost of one hostess gift. Homemade gifts not only save you money but, the hostess appreciates the thought and care that went into making the gift.

Taking the time to plan in advance, set and stick to your budget and get creative with holiday entertaining, decorating and gift giving will allow you to deck the halls with financially sensible style!

For these and many more financial tips and money saving strategies, check out my new book “Digging Out” available for pre-order on www.jodeebrydges.com. Give the gift of Financial Literacy this holiday season to family, friends, and college students! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for launch dates, worksheets, and more!



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