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5 Easy Ways to Cut Holiday Entertaining Costs

cut holiday entertaining costs

Love everything about hosting a holiday party -- except the price tag? There are easy ways to cut holiday entertaining costs.

Would you pay $30 for a holiday meal at your aunt’s house? That’s what potentially happen at family holiday gatherings, according to Twitter user @Beetaylora, whose post about her aunt’s Thanksgiving meal price tag went viral in November.

Other Twitter users quickly chimed in. Some were shocked and dismayed. Others were, well, realistic.

“Mac & cheese with the good cheeses will set you back a cool $40-50 alone so … Mess around & host a dinner you can’t afford if you want to,” wrote Twitter user @TheKitchenista.

Holiday expenses can add up quickly -- even if you’re just celebrating with your immediate family. The National Retail Federation forecasts that Americans will spend an average of $970 this year, up 3.4 percent from 2016.

But those costs can skyrocket when you play host to dozens of family members, neighbors, and friends with Christmas parties or New Year’s Eve celebrations.

There are, however, opportunities to cut the costs and celebrate in style.

Here are five ways to cut holiday entertaining costs.


When you add alcohol to the mix, the costs for a holiday party can add up fast. According to’s drink calculator, a two-hour party with 14 adults can set you back $60 or more for alcohol, depending on what you buy. And that doesn’t even include any kind of mixers you include.

Instead, offer your guests an inexpensive seasonal beverage, like warm apple cider, for instance. Let them know that if they’d like an adult beverage, they are welcome to bring their own.

Make it brunch

A holiday roast -- or even burgers and hot dogs -- can add up when you’re feeding a crowd the big meal of a day. A rib roast, for instance, costs $15 per pound.

For those looking to cut holiday entertaining costs, planning a brunch may be the way to go. Traditional brunch foods such as eggs and pancakes are far less expensive than most cuts of meat. You can find a dozen eggs at some stores for about $2 to $3. All You Magazine shares 100 egg recipes that are less than $1 per serving. A box of pancake mix, which just requires water and serves 20 people, will set you back about $2.50.

Consider a potluck

Why should all of the work and cost of seasonal hosting fall to one person? Instead of providing a full meal at your holiday gathering, offer to make the main course and ask your guests to provide sides and desserts.

For the micromanagers among us, potlucks can be tricky. What happens if everybody brings green bean casserole? Or, maybe there’s only fruitcake for dessert? You can ease those fears by creating an online signup for dishes. is designed just for this purpose.

Host a cookie exchange

A cookie exchange is another opportunity to skip the costs of a big meal. Make a batch or two of your favorite cookies. offers the best bulk cookie recipes that require only five ingredients. Then ask your friends and family to bring their favorites. Pair it with some coffee, tea or hot chocolate and you’re done. Guests can mingle and chat, trying new cookies and packing up some to take home.

Step away from Pinterest

You can spend the entire season on Pinterest, pouring over all of the holiday decorating ideas -- from lighted burlap garlands to make-your-own rustic Christmas signs.

Sure, they may be beautiful, but the cost to complete those projects can add up. What’s more, you probably have everything you need to make the season bright -- that Christmas tree in the corner and the sparkling lights wrapped around it. Don’t worry about the decorating.

The holiday season is stressful enough with all of the gift giving and activities -- and the costs that go along with them. This year, take the stress out of entertaining and celebrate the savings.

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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