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The holidays are traditionally a time of the year when friends and family gather to celebrate their relationships, turning points and the spirit of the season. While highly anticipated, the party hopping and hosting can become quite expensive very quickly. These seven easy tips will help you save on holiday parties.

Create a Party Budget

Often, families don’t budget for parties the same way they would with gift shopping. Create a list of the gatherings you plan to attend or host, and establish a total spending limit. Make sure to take additional holiday spending into account, such as gift shopping and traveling, when determining your spending limit. And most important, don’t exceed the budget. Avoid impulse buys and ask others for assistance when needed.

Enlist Help from Family and Friends

You don’t have to go it alone. Ask your friends and family members to share the expenses and duties. You’ll likely find that your loved ones are excited to help out. The host can assign tasks based on an individual’s interests and locations.

Host a Potluck

Potlucks are a great way to save on holiday parties, especially for large groups. Create a list of what you need, and ask guests to bring specific dishes. You don’t want to end up with six pumpkin pies and no side dishes. If you’re attending a potluck, try to prepare dishes from scratch rather than purchasing ready-made or frozen dishes from the grocery store. You’ll save money and get to show off your culinary skills.

Save on Food

If you’re handling the cooking, save money by purchasing food in bulk and selecting items that can be used in other dishes throughout the week. You should also stick with dishes that you’re already familiar preparing. This way, you won’t need to head back to the grocery store to purchase extra ingredients if your experimental dish doesn’t come out as planned.

Save on Drinks

Don’t feel the need to provide an open bar. If you’re hosting a party, prepare one specialty drink like punch that’s made with ingredients on sale. Inform guests that they are welcome to bring their own drinks as well. Making your celebration BYOB is an easy way to save on holiday parties.

Get Creative with Decorations

Rely on decorations from past years or turn to items already in your home. Simply use candle light for an elegant look. Specialty plates, glasses and serving dishes aren’t necessary or expected. You can also provide your children with paper, crayons and other craft supplies to create the decorations themselves. These homemade decorations are often the most appreciated and admired.

Eliminate the Paper Trail

Save money by eliminating paper from your party planning. Don’t waste time and money on ornate or printed invitations. Call or e-mail your guests. You should also avoid paper plates, plastic cups, etc. Cleanup will take a little longer, but you’ll have more cash in your pocket in the end.

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