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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.
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.
Table of Contents
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 Affordable||More Expensive|
|Ground Beef||Ground Turkey Breast|
|Whole Chicken or Dark Meat Pieces||Chicken Breast|
|Sirloin Steak||Filet Mignon or Strip Steak|
|Pork Shoulder/Butt||Pork Tenderloin|
|Pork Ribs||Beef Ribs|
Then use these budget-friendly meat main dish recipes as inspiration.
How to Make Rotisserie Chicken
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
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
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
Peanut Butter Blossoms
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.
Midwest Charcuterie Board
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
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.