DIY: How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget

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DIY Holiday Dinner Party

Martha Stewart is pretty much my spirit animal. I grew up watching her show and trying out all of her recipes and crafts with my mom. Not only did she create my absolute favorite cookie recipe, but she built an empire, went to jail (thus earning major street cred), and got to roast Justin Bieber. I mean, who else is that well-rounded?

Now that I am in my late twenties, I decided to pull a Martha Stewart and throw a holiday dinner party. It was a great time, and I wanted to share some of the tips I learned along the way on how to make a dinner party be super festive yet affordable.

Step 1: Find inspiration.

Pinterest is definitely your friend when it comes to planning parties. From the decor to the menu, Pinterest has everything you may need for inspiration. For our party, we decided to go with a glittery gold and red color scheme with some fresh green accents.

I made a Pinterest board for food and a board for decor. Feel free to check them out to get started!

Step 2: Make a budget.

Start budgeting for the decor as well as the food and decide where you want to allocate your funds based on importance. For our party, I wanted to use most of the budget for food because food. I put about 65% of my $300 budget towards the meal.

Step 3: Set the menu.

Holiday Dinner Party

Check out your local grocery ads and see what’s on sale. For our party, I made a prime rib roast (so much easier to make than you think!) which was on sale for $7.00/lb at Jewel compared to it’s normal price of $11.99/lb. If you’re doing a roast or a large piece of meat, be sure to call and place your order ahead. Even though my party was outside of the sale dates, I was able to call when it was on sale to pick up later and still get the sale price.

Holiday Dinner Party Appetizers

I also bought the value packs of garlic and onion since they were in most of the dishes I made. For the cheese plate, I found an amazing recipe for seasoned and roasted almonds instead of buying them pre-roasted.

Costco is also your friend if you are shopping for a crowd. We made yummy Holiday Mules with pomegranate juice instead of cranberry juice, and we were able to get a huge jug of pomegranate juice for way less than what it would have been at our local grocery store.

Our signature drink for the night - Holiday Mules

Since it’s usually just my fiance and I, we have no serving dishes or platters. I got those for free via borrowing from my mom. I highly recommend borrowing as much as you can, especially if you’re a once a year hostess like me. I also borrowed serving utensils and a big roasting pan for our prime rib.

We were also able to borrow tables and chairs from a meeting room that is in our condo building which helped cut down on costs.

Step 4: Save on the decor.

DIY Holiday Dinner Party Place Setting

If you’re shopping for holiday decor for your party, I recommend holding off until right before your party. The closer it gets to Christmas, the cheaper holiday decor gets. I got most of my decor from Michael’s and all of the holiday stuff was at least 40% off. Make sure you also search for printable coupons online for anything that is regular price. I used coupons on candles and glitter*.

Target is another one of my favorites. This whole season there have been sales on holiday decorations. That area where you first walk in with all of the little pick-me-ups is a great place to find small table decor. Make sure you download the Cartwheel app on your phone to get extra coupons in store too.

DIY Holiday Dinner Setting

Instead of real plates, we opted for nicer gold plastic plates because of the cheaper price and the ease of cleaning up. I got our gold plates and gold plastic cutlery from Amazon, and they were really great quality. We also got fabric napkins in a red and white checker print and white table cloths from Amazon. I tried to get linens that weren’t too Christmas-like so that I can use them year-round. Plus, you can’t beat Amazon Prime shipping.

If you’re looking for some fresh greenery, check out Home Depot or Lowe’s. I was able to get a bunch of assorted fresh pine branches from Home Depot for $7.00 which was more than enough for our table centerpiece.

The Dollar Tree is another great resource for candles, candle votives, and candle holders.

Step 5: Craft away

DIY Holiday Party Invitations

I love to DIY, so I hand made invitations to send out to our guests. I used watercolors to paint leaves as a background and then I printed them on the painted paper with my printer. I Googled “holiday party invitation” to find a template of what information needs to be included. I also found cheap envelopes on Amazon and printed addresses on them too. I’ll do a quick tutorial on the invitations in another post!

For the giant bows on the chairs, we used ribbon mesh that I purchased from Costco. A three pack was only $6.49, and we only used 2 rolls. We did a simple cinched bow and secured it with wire. We also secured the bows to the chairs with wire and a lot of tape.

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I also recently got a a FujiFilm Instax which is the new school Polaroid camera. It was super fun taking instant pics of all of our guests and hanging them with mini clothespins to add to the fun and decor.

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In the end, I had so much fun throwing our holiday party, and it was great to have all of our friends together to enjoy good food in a festive setting. It was so much fun, that we’re making this an annual party, so I’ll be able to use much of the same decor again.

Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget

I hope this helps you create a great budget friendly holiday dinner party. Let me know your favorite tips for throwing a holiday dinner party in the comments below!

*Glitter is amazing, but it was literally everywhere by the time we were done decorating. It was a huge pain to clean after the party too, so make sure you have a good vacuum handy if you decide to use a lot of glitter.