The holiday season is rapidly approaching, making now the time of year to start planning your holiday party. Whether you host a holiday party every year or it's your first one, here are some tips to help you plan a party that's fun, festive and budget friendly. 

  • Set a budget. List potential expenses, such as invitations, decorations, entertainment, food and drink. If you're not sure how much each item will cost, look online for estimated pricing. If you've hosted the same or similar party before, review expenses from previous years. Also, programs such as Party Budget Estimator from Evite calculate your costs based on the information you type in, the number of guests and the duration of your party. 

     1) Prioritize where you'd like to spend the most of your money. Is the food the most important aspect to you, or is it the mood-enhancing items like decor?Once you estimate how much everything will cost, you can decide how you would like to prioritize your spending if you're on a tight budget.

     2)  Choose a venue. If you plan to host a party at a restaurant or other venue, reserve it as soon as you know the date you want. Many host the party in their homes to save money. If that is your plan, focus the event in the living room, dining room and other common areas, and close the rest of the house to guests.

  • Create your guest list. Although your budget may dictate the size of your party, there are ways to cute costs so you can entertain more people. Are you planning a sit-down dinner party or something larger? Are you inviting families or only adults? If you're inviting children, keep their interests and ages in mind as you plan activities. For example, be sure to have entertainment available to them, such as holiday movies in a playroom, holiday-themed games and toys, etc.

     1) Send invitations. If you plan to send paper invitations, be sure to send them as soon as possible. Schedules fill up fast over the holiday season, so be sure to invite your guests several weeks in advance of the party.

    2) Save money with email invitations, which are free to send and allow you to easily manage who has responded and who hasn't. If you use Facebook, create a event page to invite guests and communicate with them before the event. This is especially useful if you're planning a potluck or asking guests to bring snacks or beverages; you can ask people to post what they plan to bring, ensuring there's no overlap.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog post for more party planning tips....