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Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Guest Posts, Holiday, Savings Advice, Shopping | 0 comments

Avoid the 5 Biggest Expenses of Hosting Holiday Guests

For many of us, the holiday season is the “most wonderful time of the year” filled with the love and laughter of our family or friends. We look forward to sharing annual traditions, eating meals together, and decorating the house. What we don’t look forward to: the cost.

The holidays can be expensive, especially when you have guests visiting from out-of-town or dropping in for a get-together. In either case, you’re shopping for different food preferences, investing in enough bedding for everyone to be comfortable and more.

Those costs quickly add up, with 60 percent of holiday hosts saying food and drinks is the biggest expense, according to Holidays 2017: The Survival Guide for Hosting on a Budget. Other top expenses for holiday hosts?

  • Presents for people who stay with you
  • Holiday decorations
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Buying new linens/extra household items

This year, don’t let these expenses drain your wallet. The following cost-cutting strategies will turn you into a holiday host extraordinaire on a shoestring budget.

1. Ask Guests to Contribute

There’s nothing wrong a potluck style dinner, especially if you’re making the most important dish, the entrée (a big turkey or ham). Time Magazine reports that, on average, Americans spend $115 on holiday-related food and drinks—split that between 10 people and you’re all spending minimal while spreading out the costs so you don’t shoulder the burden yourself.

Everyone can bring a side dish, dessert or something alcoholic, like a bottle of wine, case of beer or liquor. The best part is that this also reduces your need to be in the kitchen, allowing you spend more time with your guests.

2. Establish a Price Limit on Gifts

According to a 2016 survey from the National Retail Federation, most respondents said that an estimated 63 percent of their holiday budgets were allocated to gifts. Surprising your family and friends with a thoughtful present is one of the season’s most enjoyable highlights, but the more people on your list, the tighter your finances become.

To minimize that expense, determine an across-the-board price range before stepping foot inside a store. Then, leave the credit card at home and only bring cash to make sure you won’t exceed this amount. You can also get creative with handmade gift items which are meaningful, affordable and as unique as their recipients.

3. Reuse Decor from Last Year

Getting into the holiday spirit doesn’t come cheap. The average U.S. household spends anywhere from $50 to upwards of $80 on seasonal decorations, from the string lights and garland to door wreaths and ornaments. Limit this expense by repurposing the decorations from years prior instead of splurging on all new trimmings.

If you didn’t save anything, ask friends and family for items they plan to throw away or not use this holiday. You can likely pull together a few wreaths and trinkets for around the house. Another money-saving option is to head to GoodWill or another thrift store; second-hand stores are always filled with inexpensive holiday decorations this time of year.

4. Choose Two Signature Cocktails

If you’ve already made your holiday dinner BYOB, then you’ll be able to save a significant amount of money on alcohol. Another way to save, while still providing for friends and family, is to create two signature cocktails that you’ll provide and serve. This allows you to control the costs, choosing liquors and ingredients that are less expensive, and helps you maintain a festive atmosphere.

Check out these 40+ Christmas cocktail ideas from Delish, or better yet, use your leftovers to make even cheaper cocktails with these ideas.

5. Spread Our Your Essentials Shopping

“Many of us get overwhelmed during the holidays by an avalanche of simultaneous purchases,” says Matt Schultz, senior credit analyst. Stocking up on the essentials, like linens and air mattresses over the course of a few weeks minimizes the stress of shopping in last-minute crowds. It also allows you to spread out your budget, rather than spending a significant amount of time and money at once.

To be most effective, create a budget, shopping schedule and list of priority items. Find out which stores are having sales when, and plan your shopping around that, along with your already-busy life and work schedule. You’ll reduce stress and save money at the same time.

Be the Holiday Host With the Most

The holiday season is about being together and creating memories with the people you love. Take the financial stressors out of hosting without sacrificing the festive ambiance, delicious food and crowd-pleasing gifts with these simple ideas. When you’re happy, and your guests are happy, the holiday will be merry and bright.

Jessica Thiefels is a lifestyle blogger who has been writing for more than 10 years. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for money-saving ideas, health tips and more.