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Money Management International offers frugal tips for fun holiday celebrations

Posted on November 18, 2010

When planning holiday parties, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glitter of the season and overspend. However, it is possible to throw a great party while staying within your budget. Money Management International (MMI) offers the following advice to plan a fun, yet frugal, holiday party.

Step 1: Pick your price. Ask yourself: “How much can I reasonably afford to spend on this party while still meeting my other financial obligations?” Set your limit and stick to it. Even if you only have $50 to spend on your holiday party, you can still throw a party that your guests will love.

Step 2: Consider the details. The “who, what, where, when, and why” of your party can have a major impact on your party budget. Make some cost-conscious choices, like inviting fewer guests, hosting the party at a free location such as your home, and holding the party at a time when serving appetizers instead of a full meal is appropriate.

Step 3: Budget for the big three. Food and drink, decorations, and entertainment are the three big budget categories for any get together. Decide how you want to allocate your party budget and look for creative ways to save in the other categories. Following are some ideas:

    Food and drink

    • Potlucks are a frugal way to feed your guests and get them involved. Particularly for big Thanksgiving dinners, your family and friends will likely be happy to help contribute to the meal.
    • Alcohol is a big budget breaker, ask guests to bring their own if they wish.
    • Combine simple, inexpensive ingredients to create delicious dishes (download Cheap Eats, one of MMI’s free eBooks, for frugal recipe ideas).


    • Consider simple decorations that evoke more than one sense. Scented candles, for example, can help set the party ambiance.
    • Get crafty by creating your own table settings. Thrifty Thanksgiving, a free eBook from MMI, offers instructions for decorating the adults’ and kids’ tables.


“The economy has shifted the focus to quality time spent with family and friends rather than big-budget, extravagant holiday parties,” says Kim McGrigg, community manager and author of MMI’s Blogging for Change. She adds, “Guests are more conscious about the cost of holiday get-togethers and are usually more than willing to help out the host by bringing a dish to share or extras, like serving platters and chairs, so the host does not have to take on the expense for items they will only use once.”

To receive more ideas to make your holidays festively frugal, subscribe to MMI’s weekly email newsletter.

About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit-counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24/7 by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call 800.432.7310 or visit

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