Reasonable Approaches to Holiday Entertaining

Holidays are excuses to indulge; and rightly so, as long as entertaining doesn't tap your bank account dry.  Treating friends and family to dinners and festive gatherings around Christmas, Boxing Day and other coveted holidays is part of the spirit to be enjoyed each season.  Even personal milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations are important occasions to recognize with special events.

Holiday spending gets out of control quickly, including entertainment costs. Food and beverages, as well as other party favors, bash budgets when party planners turn a blind eye; so a little planning keeps costs in line.  Use tips from proven party planners to keep your next celebration affordable, without sacrificing good times shared with friends.

~Trim Your Menu to Reel-in Spending~

For most hosts and hostesses, sharing the best party favors available is part of the excitement of organizing events.  When money is no object, exotic ingredients and high-dollar preparations are perfectly suited for festive celebrations; but when resources are thin, other accommodations must be made.

Planning party menus is an exercise requiring discipline and realistic expectations.  Too often, home cooks with something to prove roll-out too many extravagant dishes, all at once.  Not only does the approach leaves hosts and hostesses frantic with food details to cover, but menu costs also rise quickly when several luxury dishes are prepared.

To keep your party spending within reason, focus on a few proven dishes, rather than branching out too far.  Not only do comfortable choices provide familiar territory for preparing, but your overall food tally is reduced using a few go-to favorites. Pay attention to pricing as you make appetizers and shared plates.  In some cases, striking menu items can be avoided by using cheaper versions from your ingredients list.  Cheese, for example, falls across a wide range of prices, depending on where it is from and how long it has been aged.  Rather than embracing the finest varieties, mix it up with reasonably priced fresh alternatives.

~Beverage Costs Run High~

Sharing adult beverages with mates is a holiday rite of passage, to be enjoyed at your next party.  Unfortunately, wine, beer, and spirits are expensive items on the holiday shopping list.  Host and hostesses with ample resources, or well-stocked home bars are in good shape, offering a wide selection of drinks.  While a full bar is a nice compliment to your festive holiday spread, keeping beverage costs in line is essential to throwing an inexpensive party.

Rather than spending beyond your means, limit your drink selection to a few favorites; or better yet, craft a signature cocktail or two, which compliment your food.  Send the message with party invitations, that you'll be providing certain drinks, so guests can bring their own favorites if desired.  Group drinks, like punch and cider are holiday favorites, which can be furnished for a reasonable amount.  For flexibility, make non-alcoholic versions, providing tasty spirits alongside, for those who wish to imbibe.

                                           ~Pot-Luck Spreads Spending~

Enlisting the help of guests is not out of the question for party planners with financial constraints.  In fact, sharing seasonal bounty from several households leads to great variety on your buffet and opportunities to try new dishes.

Steer guests toward themes, like certain types of ethnic cuisine, so that you are not presenting conflicting palates; and designate categories like main dish and dessert, so you are well-represented in each course.

The same approach can be applied to drinks too, recruiting guests to bring certain beverages.  To flow without a hitch, stay in contact with guests, to see who's bringing what.  And never take attendance for granted, or you'll run the risk of coming up short on food.



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