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Nov 20, 2014

Holiday Gatherings: Counting the Costs


Maximize fun and minimize holiday stress this season by spending within your budget! Take a moment to review some of the helpful tips provided by Community Bankers of Wisconsin. With a little planning you can make the holidays extra enjoyable—without breaking the bank! 


From Thanksgiving to Three Kings Day, many Wisconsinites budget carefully for holiday gift giving. But what about holiday entertaining? Have you ever hosted a party where the guest list grew beyond what your budget—or location—could handle? Or maybe last-minute menu additions or Packer decorations pushed the price of your gathering skyward.

Whether you're considering a Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas morning breakfast, or a late-night New Year's celebration, a little planning can help you relax and enjoy the event as much as your guests.

Food and beverages are often big budget items. If you're a skilled chef and truly enjoy every minute spent in the kitchen, fine. If not so much, consider purchasing a main entrée or festive dessert from your local caterer and then adding your own sides, breads, and garnishes. You don't need to serve each guest a mini beef Wellington. Google "frugal recipes" to find tasty dishes that fit both your budget and your available preparation time.

Remember, time is money, too. If you spend so many hours in the kitchen or on crafting party decorations that you're exhausted by the time of the party, you will have defeated the point of the event - even if you do end up with useful leftovers or decorations you'll reuse.

Don't hesitate to ask your guests to help by bringing a dish they're known for, a vase of flowers, a bottle wine or jug of cider. If a guest has a flair for food presentation, maybe he or she would be willing to come early and help with the final touches.

Your guests might also like to help with any entertainment or the party ambience. They may have music, videos, or photos to share, or crafty decorations to show off. Crafting a wreath, ornament, or gingerbread house could even become a party focus, with guests taking home their creations.

Don't forget craft malls or discount the discount stores. You may find the perfect invitations or decorations at your nearby Dollar Store or outlet mall. Your home may also be a source of items saved from previous years that you can adapt to your newest party theme. Hint: candles can dress up any table, even if the candleholder is hollowed-out apple or a mirror repurposed as a reflective tray.

If many guests have young children and you have the space, pool your resources to hire a teen to plan activities and watch over the young ones. The kids will be thrilled to have their own party and the parents will be happy their children are safe and close at hand.

For other ideas, visit these websites:

The Wisconsin Public Service company offers energy saving tips during the holidays, including entertaining.

A Wisconsin Law Journal article offers tips for office parties, and some can be useful for consumers, too.

The Festival Network lists Wisconsin craft fairs where you can purchase exquisite items or collect ideas for decorations to create yourself.

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