What Will It Cost to Host for the Holidays? Prepare to Be Shocked

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The number may be higher than you’d expect it to be.


key points

  • Hosting a holiday gathering could mean spending more than you’d like.
  • If money is tight, there are steps you can take to keep your costs down.
  • You can ask guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages, and try picking up snacks for parties in bulk.

Although it’s only October, now’s actually a great time to start saving and budgeting for the holidays. And it’s especially important to do so this year, what with inflation driving the cost of just about everything upward.

If you’re planning to host a holiday meal or party, you may be prepared to run up a decent-sized credit card tab in the course of that celebration. But one thing you don’t want to do is go overboard, to the point where you’re forced to carry a balance forward.

In a recent holiday planning survey, Ally found that the average gathering will cost at least $630. It’s worth noting that those surveyed and hosting a holiday event expect an average of 11 invitees. But still, $630 (or more) is a lot to spend on a crowd that size.

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If money is tight going into the holidays and you’ve been tapped to host, you may be resigned to racking up a pile of debt to pull off a fun gathering. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to lower your costs in the course of hosting. Here’s how.

1. Make it BYOB

The cost of serving alcohol to a room full of people can really add up. If you’re on a budget, ask your guests to bring their favorite bottle of wine, six-pack of beer, or beverage of choice to your gathering. Not only might that lend to a nice variety, but it could spare you a few hundred dollars in beverage costs alone.

2. Go the home-cooked route

You may be used to catering your holiday meals or parties because you’re perpetually pressed for time or are a self-proclaimed disaster in the kitchen. But the more food you’re willing to prepare yourself, the less you’re likely to spend in the course of hosting. If you need to outsource a few main dishes, at least be willing to whip up your own salads and cheese platters. It’s one thing to be a lousy cook, but cubing cheese and placing it on a plate with some crackers should be more than doable.

3. Buy your snacks in bulk

It’s common to serve snacks at a holiday party or meal. And if you’re feeding a crowd and don’t want to spend a fortune, it pays to buy your chips, pretzels, and salsa in bulk. If you have a Costco membership, pop over to your local warehouse club store ahead of the holidays and load up on the items you need. You may even find a host of frozen appetizers you can pop in the oven to keep your guests happy until you’re ready to present your main course.

Hosting for the holidays can be expensive, whether you’re having a handful of guests or 20. But if you’re anticipating a bill anywhere in the ballpark of $630, you should know there are steps you can take to spend less and avoid kicking off the new year with a pile of debt in your name.

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