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Does Extra Company Always Mean Extra Spending?

Setting the table for holiday guests.

A recent article in the “New York Times” called attention to the death of the party. According to the article, people, particularly those in their 20s, are less likely to entertain or throw parties than in the past. Part of the reason for the decline in parties is due to the perceived high cost of entertaining. But, it is possible to hold a party and have company over without extra spending. There are plenty of ways to entertain on a dime, without looking cheap.


One simple way to have extra company over without extra spending is to host a potluck. You can provide the main dish and a few beverages, and the guests can bring the rest. A potluck is a great way for people to show off their talents in the kitchen. Your friend who loves to bake can bring along a cake or brownies while a friend who loves making soup can bring a favorite soup recipe. People who aren’t so great at baking or cooking can bring drinks or pre-made snacks. If you don’t have enough plates for all the guests, you can ask people to bring along one from home.

Think Cheap

You don’t have to go top shelf when entertaining, especially if doing so would mean going over-budget. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to feed a crowd. For example, if you’re having friends over to watch the game, you can make up a big batch of chili, using an inexpensive cut of meat, for not much cash. To make the chili even more budget friendly, you can skip the meat altogether and serve up a bean-based dish.

The same is true for beverages. If you’re serving cocktails, you don’t have to have the best, most expensive liquor. A lot of the nuances and qualities of pricey spirits are lost when you start mixing in fruit juice or other ingredients. Stick with the mid-range options to keep your costs lower. Keep in mind that wine or beer by the case is usually cheaper than individual bottles or six-packs.

Focus on a Theme

There’s no rule that says you need to serve a full meal or even offer a lot of snacks to eat whenever you have people over. One way to keep extra spending in check is to choose a theme for your event that doesn’t necessarily focus on food. You can host a movie night, for example, and serve bowls of popcorn and candy and offer soda to drink. You can also host a game night, crafting night or clothing swap, where the focus is on spending time together, and in the case of the clothing swap, on getting some free clothes.

Around the holidays, you can have company over for a cookie swap, during which every guests brings a batch of their favorite cookies to share. Another option is to have a wine or beer tasting party, during which each guest brings their favorite wine or beer to share with the other guests.

Creating and sticking to a budget anytime you have a party will keep you from spending more than you planned, too. Don’t let a fear of overspending keep you from having friends over and enjoying a good time.

Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today

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