Budget-Friendly Holiday Party Recipes (Plus Hosting Tips!)

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Steal my top 5 tips for hosting a party on a budget. Then I’m dishing up the best budget-friendly holiday party recipes that taste far richer than they cost.

A whole roasted chicken in a graniteware pan.

While the holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, the time between Halloween and New Year’s Day can certainly be overflowing with stress, too. Especially if you’re in charge of the hosting duties or have a full slate of potluck parties to attend. It is such a blessing and a gift to have a packed calendar and lots of loved ones, but it sure can be exhausting!

The plot has thickened even more this year, as food costs are on the rise. Overall inflation is up to the tune of about 8%, making shopping for holiday gifts already feel a bit like a budget crunch. But one of the highest spikes has been seen in the “food at home” index—aka grocery prices—which jumped 12.4% in October 2022 compared to October 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index.

So with those statistics in mind and a full holiday season ahead, I’m sharing my best budget holiday party tips. Whether you’re hosting the soiree or attending a potluck, these tricks and recipes will help you save dough and stress less.

Choose a Cheaper Protein

By knowing a few cost basics on meats an shopping wisely, you can easily incorporate beef, chicken, or pork into a budget-friendly holiday recipe. Use this chart as your guide:

More AffordableMore Expensive
Ground BeefGround Turkey Breast
Whole Chicken or Dark Meat PiecesChicken Breast
Sirloin SteakFilet Mignon or Strip Steak
Pork Shoulder/ButtPork Tenderloin
Pork RibsBeef Ribs

Then use these budget-friendly meat main dish recipes as inspiration.

How to Make Rotisserie Chicken
Learn how to make rotisserie chicken at home with my super simple spice rub (4 ingredients plus salt & pepper). Or, recreate that same delicious flavor for your next oven-roasted chicken! 
VIEW RECIPE
A rotisserie chicken on a white plate with slices of lemon.
Lasagna
My best Lasagna recipe has three kinds of cheese, lots of ground beef, and one fantastic homemade sauce. Pre-cut the lasagna before baking for easier, cheesier, slices.
VIEW RECIPE
A white baking dish of lasagna.

Make a Meatless Main Dish

Animal products (specifically beef, pork, turkey, and chicken), are among the foods most impacted by inflation, the Department of Labor data confirms. While it will be a hard sell to convince my family to go completely vegetarian or vegan, I can certainly coax them into enjoying a festive holiday recipe that’s centered around beans, grains, and other hearty plant-based products.

Baked Mac and Cheese
Take a break from the blue box mac. Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese is the epitome of comfort food! The irresistible garlic butter breadcrumb-topped casserole is a surprisingly easy dinner recipe, calling for just 10 minutes of prep time.
VIEW RECIPE
A scoop of mac and cheese with garlic butter crumbs.
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers are filled with chipotle-flavored rice, beans, and vegetables, then smothered with melty cheese and crunchy tortilla chips.
VIEW RECIPE
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers in a white baking dish.

Prioritize Pantry and Freezer Staples

Often far more affordable and longer-lasting than fresh fruits and vegetables, I swear by keeping a fully-stocked pantry and freezer. Canned beans and legumes, tinned seafood, nut butters, jarred pasta sauces, rice, pastas, whole grains, and boxed or canned stocks can be transformed into party-worthy meals and snacks.

Frozen fruits and vegetables, frozen sauces (I fill my freezer with ice cube tubs of Basil Pesto in summer to bust out during the holidays!), frozen meatballs, and other odds and ends are also really great ideas.

Pesto Roasted Chicken
This recipe for Pesto Roasted Chicken uses a homemade pesto rubbed under the skin to give the chicken unbelievable flavor as it cooks. This is a perfect way to enjoy the end of summer’s fresh basil, and get you out of that grocery store rotisserie chicken rut.
VIEW RECIPE
Pesto roasted chicken in a white serving dish.

Pantry raids

Peanut Butter Blossoms
An easy Peanut Butter Blossoms cookie recipe. Soft, chewy peanut butter cookies are rolled in sugar, baked, and topped with a single Hershey’s kiss!
VIEW RECIPE
Peanut butter blossom cookies.

Freezer favorites

Millionaire Pie
Inspired by Furr’s famous Millionaire Pie. With a pecan crust and smooth pineapple filling, this version tastes a MILLION times better than the original!
VIEW RECIPE
Slices of millionaire pie.

Assemble a Spread of Snacks

Appetizer recipes are often simpler to assemble and easier on the budget. Plus, a spread of heavy snacks encourages more interaction among guests. No need to save room for the entree; these holiday appetizer recipes are worthy of being the star of the show.

Mezze Platter
Craving a taste of the Mediterranean, Middle East, or North Africa? Discover how to make the ultimate Mezze Platter, a global cousin to a charcuterie board or antipasto platter, for a taste of the region right in the comfort of your own home.
VIEW RECIPE
Dukkah, eggplant dip, hummus, artichokes, and olives in bowls
Midwest Charcuterie Board
A Midwest Charcuterie Board ripe with regional offerings is perfect for all-day grazing and parties with people you love. Make a few things, buy the rest, enjoy it all!
VIEW RECIPE
Midwest Charcuterie board on a gray countertop.

Call it BYOB

Boozy beverages add up fast as part of a party budget. So consider making a non-alcoholic drink recipe (I’m sharing a few of my favorites below), then ask your guests to bring their desired wine, beer or cocktail to enjoy and share, if desired.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider
Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider is simple to make, sweet, and delicious. This welcoming, spiced hot beverage makes the whole house smell amazing, too.
VIEW RECIPE
Slow cooker cranberry apple cider in a clear mug.
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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