Saving Money on Your Holiday Party

As any good party host would, you're probably thinking of pulling out all of the stops for your holiday shebang. Celebrating the winter holidays with family, friends, maybe even coworkers, is part of the season, and when you play host to your Yuletide-gathered guests, no cost seems too high for spreading cheer.

But during the holidays, while it's acceptable to loosen your own belt after a meal, the one on your budget ought to stay tight.

Losing track of your spending amid all the gift and decoration buying is an all-too-common pitfall to fall into, and it's vital to keep a vigilant eye on expenses related to throwing a holiday party before you find yourself on thin financial ice. 

Even if 2014 has been a good year and you feel especially in the giving spirit, when it comes to your finances it could help to take a cue from businesses. A survey by executive recruitment firm Battalia Winston found while 72 percent of responding companies reported improved performance this year, 79 percent will resist throwing a more lavish office holiday party than they previously had.

Along with charity, prudence is a needed virtue in the holidays, especially in regard to throwing your own holiday party. Here are a couple tips for reigning in your spending at the party store:

Bring cash
Paying with cash is a simple strategy for keeping your party spending in line, and it's an increasingly common one, despite many consumers being tethered to their plastic. In a recent survey by Lexington Law, two-thirds of responding consumers said they would use cash this holiday season. While the underlying motivation behind that is primarily security concerns, when you use cash, you enable yourself to check rampant spending, simply because you only have so much to spend.

Think dollar store decorations: Sure the Rudolph and his eight other reindeer light-up, outdoor display would grab attention, but tinsel, cheap icicle lights and other staples are just as good. Even buying the materials yourself and making them later on can save major cash.

Do a potluck dinner
Turkey, ham, pasta, fish, roast beef – they're all on the holiday menu, but not each dish has to be prepared by you, and only you. Grocery receipts can run yards long if you're not careful shopping the aisles like Supermarket Sweep for your party. So instead of having four range burners going at once while you dust around the kitchen in frenetic preparations, ask your guests to bring a dish of their own to round out the menu.

The financial implications of doing this are clear – the less you buy in food, the more you save – but you also get to benefit from a greater diversity of foods (you can still assign a specific dish to each guest if you'd like) and a load less stress.

Treat it as any other expense
It's the holidays, so yes, by all means, do enjoy yourself; but also keep it in the back of your head planning and paying for a holiday party should be undertaken in a focused matter, just like any other budget issue.

One way to help you in this endeavor is using a calculator (CBS MoneyWatch has a list of three useful holiday budget planners). If you tally each purchased bulk set of cutlery and napkins or peppermint-scented candles, even possibly how much more electricity you stand to use in hosting your party, you better help to ensure your party goes on without a hitch reasonably within your means.