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The holiday season is rapidly approaching, making now the time 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.

• Prioritize where you’d like to spend most of your money.
Is the food the most important aspect to you, or is it moodenhancing
items like décor? 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.
• 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 cut 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.

• 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

• 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 an event page to
invite guests and communicate with them before the event.
This is especially useful if you’re planning a potluck or are
asking guests to bring snacks or beverages; you can ask
people to post what they plan to bring, ensuring there’s
no overlap

Plan your entertainment. Make sure your guests have fun at your party. Use a digital music service to create holiday-themed playlists.

• If your guests love singing, buy, rent or borrow a karaoke
machine and queue it up with holiday hits. Offer a prize
for the best singer to encourage healthy competition.
• Encourage your guests to wear festive attire, including
holiday sweaters and offer a prize for the best festive outfit.
• Have a friend or family member dress as Santa Claus and
hand out candy to guests or small toys to their children.
• Create goody bags for young children at the party and
include candy canes, crayons, holiday-themed colouring
pages or books and stickers. This will keep them busy while
their parents mingle.
• If you want guests to exchange gifts, make it a
Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange and
give guests a budget to adhere to. For a
Secret Santa exchange, pair people up
ahead of time, once you know who’s
coming to the party. If you plan to host
a White Elephant exchange, let your
guests know on their invitation so they
remember to bring a gift.