Hosting for the Holidays on a Budget

November 16, 2020
by Karly

The holidays are near! For so many this is their favorite time of the entire year, while others couldn’t dread it more. I fall somewhere between the two. I love being around my favorite people all gathered together in one place. I enjoy decorating the home for the special occasion and being intentional with every detail. Hosting reminds me to do a good ole deep clean to the home, which, let’s be honest, only happens those few times a year. I’m talking scrubbing on my hands and knees mad woman stress clean. What I don’t love about hosting is cooking, cleaning, prepping and organizing. Those are not my strong suits. I also put far too much pressure on myself to ensure everyone has the best time of their life at my home. As I have become older, my wiser self reminds me that I cannot control other people’s experiences. That is up to them to have a good time. I just get to open my door to them and invite them in.

My husband and I have always been on a tight budget. Over the years, we have really had to think creatively about how to host at a low cost. I want to share some tips we have found that have helped us feel we can open our home well. Here are a few ideas you can try this coming holiday season.

Side Dish
Invite your guests to bring a dish to share. This helps take the stress off of you to prepare everything. This also invites your guest to take some ownership of the event and feel proud to share what they have prepared. Let them bake or cook whatever they want, this will help them feel confident and it is a fun way to get to know their likes and dislikes a bit more. At least you’ll know they will enjoy something on the table, even if it is their own dish!
Progressive Dinner Style
Link up with your neighbors, friends or family to host a progressive dinner. A progressive dinner is usually broken up into three segments: appetizers and drinks, a main course, and a dessert. This way, you are personally only in charge of one aspect of the meal. This is such a fun way to share the load of hosting with others. My husband and I have been a part of hosting a progressive dinner for Christmas Eve in the past and we had a blast! It is so special to experience several different hosts and homes all in the same night.
Simple can be Beautiful
You don’t need to go buy flowers, festive tablecloths and napkins or have a whole new set of chinaware for each season. Consider whatever is easiest for you as the host. For us, we have used mix matched chinaware so we didn’t have to purchase paper products. We were able to make it still look put together with the colors of the plates and napkins we would set beside each other. We buy gourds to use as centerpieces and when we cut down our Christmas tree, we ask the staff if we can have some of the left over evergreens. These are inexpensive ways to freshen up your home to create a more festive feel relative to the holiday.
Don't be Afraid to Borrow
One time, I needed two more settings, instead of running to the store, I asked my neighbor who happily allowed me to borrow some of his. When in doubt, ask. Most people feel honored to get to help where they can. This past Easter I wanted to make our table look special. I wanted to add a pop of color to brighten up the room. I looked through my window and I was glued to the most lovely flowers in my neighbors yard. They were these big bushes full of color. They were pink, purple and white. I texted her and asked if she would mind if I picked some, and she instantly allowed me to come snip away.
You Don't Need Alcohol to Have a Good Time
Alcohol can often be one of the most expensive parts of hosting, especially if you are trying to serve more than one type of drink. Instead of buying beer and wine, cut some lemon and cucumber up and place it in your water pitcher or even some ripe berries. This is a cheap way to incorporate a special feel. If you are set on serving alcohol due to a special occasion or an ideal dish pairing being, just buy one drink option. Unless Jesus is attending, when it runs out, it runs out.
Check Your Pantry
We often buy so many spices and ingredients that we use just one time. For the rest of the year, it’s pushed to the back of the cabinet and forgotten. Before you decide on what you will prepare for the meal, check your pantry to see what you already have that you can use. It may also remind you of that really delicious holiday recipe you made a year ago. I know this sounds so simple, but I often forget! I doubt that anyone has “organize spice collection” anywhere near the top of their to-do lists.
Text or Email Invites
It’s 2020, no need to spend money on stamps and cute cards. We are so blessed to have the technology that we do. I use Evite to create free invitations for all of my events. They have invitations for every occasion. If you are inviting family members who don’t love all of the technology, pick up the phone and give them a call instead. Who doesn’t enjoy a personal invite?
S'mores for Dessert
This is our go-to at the Reyle Household. It doesn’t matter if it is a birthday, holiday, engagement party or just a hang out. It also doesn’t matter what time of year it is. In the summer it’s a staple and in the winter it’s an excuse to make a cozy fire inside or outside the home. We really enjoy creating a s’mores charcuterie board. This is such an easy way to stay within your budget while creating a fun activity for your guest to partake in.
Stick to your Budget
You can do it! This just requires taking the time to plan the details out. I choose to shop at a store that has the best deals. For me that is Trader Joes, HMART or Food Lion. This way I can get more for my dollar. Check out coupons online before you go too. I have recently started pulling cash out of the bank before going to the store, so that way, once the cash is out, I can’t spend anymore. This helps me remember what I need for the event and not just what looks pretty.
Remember What it's all About
Take time to remember what the holiday is really about that you are hosting for. People will not remember the napkins they wiped their mouths with. What they will treasure are the conversations at the table, the loud laughter in the room, the feeling of love, warmth and care around them.

As you host this holiday season, my hope for you is this: that you would be present and allow yourself to take delight in your space, your people and what you're celebrating. That you wouldn’t allow your financial limitations to stop you from opening your door. It will bless others and you may be surprised at how it blesses you.