It's the holiday season, and instead of party hopping and wishing that you and that cute guy in the Santa hat end up under the mistletoe, take the initiative and throw your own holiday bash!
We predict it'll be one of the best decisions you've made all 2010. While it's always fun to play hostess and decorate your place, we understand there's probably a reason you haven't already decided to have a shindig -- you're broke.
Yes, holiday shopping has left us all with obscene debt, credit card bills and wrapping paper cuts. Trust us, we get it. We also get that feeding and entertaining your egg-nog happy friends in your abode may not be the way you're looking to spend the rest of your cash for the year. But worry not -- here at Lemondrop, we've got a solution.
Here, we tell you how to host a lovely holiday party for 20 of your closest friends for under
$75. That's right, you heard us. All we need from you is a commitment to party, a bit of advance price shopping (big thank-yous to Costco and Sam's Club), and for you to comb through your extensive list of Facebook friends and hone in on a realistic guest list. Pick a date, send out free invites (Evites, Facebook, or our favorite, PaperlessPost.com -- whatever you choose, make sure it's free), and you're ready to get started.
For your party menu, we want to keep it light and simple, which is why we have a series of hors d'oeuvres recipes including deviled eggs, phyllo cheese triangles, dip, chips and punch from our sister site KitchenDaily.com
. The idea behind your holiday party is to get friends together for drunken cheer, NOT serve a four-course meal, 'cause that'd be tough for less than $75. Unless you serve only Ramen, in which case...
So, in keeping with your budget, tell your friends on the invite that the party is BYOB and to bring a holiday baked good if they so choose. The estimated costs are based on the main ingredients, but not always things like salt and pepper -- if you don't have those, forget the holiday party and go buy them, stat. Also remember to include the cost of napkins (~$2) and red solo cups (~$3.50) into consideration. For $75, you should be able to swing this party with the help of price shopping at your local discount, overstock or price club store, but of course, we don't know where you live so we can't guarantee anything. All of these recipes should serve 20+ people Here are some recipes to serve at your soiree -- but of course, feel free to swap something else in or out while keeping within budget:
Phyllo Cheese Triangles
Remember to thaw this dough the night before you make them, and let them stand at room temperature for two hours. Don't say you haven't been warned! Also, in the recipe it says you need a pastry brush -- a new, small-ish paint brush will work just as well. Besides looking like you put in much more effort than you actually did, this recipe only takes about 10 minutes to bake. Voila!
A tip for condiment-haters: If don't want to invest in oil, mustard, mayo or any other add-on, you can pocket some small packets next time you order food. Or, uh, go be a real person and invest in these essentials. Whatever. Estimated cost: $15.
Buying a dozen eggs is a relatively inexpensive way to make a cheap dish. Buy two dozen and hard-boil them. Instead of buying the pre-squeezed lemon juice, buy a whole lemon and squeeze it yourself. And hey, if you don't use it all, we're sure someone will have a vodka drink you can garnish... Estimated cost: $10
Caramelized Onion Dip
Cran Razzy Punch
Get the cheapest ($10-$13) vodka you can find. With all of the other flavors you're adding, the lower quality won't be noticeable. Fight the urge to down the bottle, and make your punch according to this recipe. Refrigerate. Serve with plenty of ice, which you can start making days before the party. Store it in plastic bags in your freezer. This punch serves 20, and cost you about $25-$30.
Pretty Up Your Place
Besides your food and drink, which are essential, part of throwing a holiday party is getting in the spirit. So you obviously want to pretty up your abode. Aim for decorations that are traditional holiday colors like red, white, green, gold, blue and silver. If you don't have any decorations, spend your last few dollars ($7-$10+) at a wholesale store and pick up as many of the below items as you want, need or can afford:
-Wrapping paper to wrap your front door (it's cute, we promise!)
-Christmas music (A hokey holiday CD or 10 iTunes songs on repeat should make for a good time)
-Red and green holiday M&Ms (put them in clear bowls around your place)
-Christmas lights (white lights are classy, multicolored are fun)
-Mistletoe (for strategic placement)
While of course our plan isn't foolproof, we hope it helps you get your holiday party started. Use it as a guideline to throw a great bash before the New Year.
Have you thrown a holiday party in the past? How did it go, and what are your tips and tricks to making it awesome?
Vanessa Voltolina is an editor and writer living in New York City. She covers health and fitness, food and relationships. Read more of her stories and blog posts on vanessavoltolina.com.