Entertaining on a Student Budget

Holiday parties are just as much a part of the seasonal tradition as a trimmed tree and holiday lights, and this is often a time for going over the top with décor and party foods. However, you don’t have to blow your budget out of the water to throw a great party. It’s possible to be frugal and festive at the same time. Even better, if you have a roommate, you can pool your resources to split the cost and double the fun.

If you’re looking to host a holiday bash on a student budget, these five tips can help make your celebration festive and affordable.

1. Start with a Budget

Knowing how much you can afford to spend helps you keep the size of your party manageable. It also helps you determine how much you can spend on food, drinks, and decorations. Don’t forget you have other expenses this time of year — like holiday gifts and travel — and factor these additional costs into your monthly budget plan.

2. Keep It Simple

You don’t need lavish holiday decorations to impress your guests. Save your money by skipping holiday-themed plastic or paper plates. Instead, ask friends and fellow students to borrow extra plates, serving dishes, or utensils. And you don’t need to serve a gourmet, sit-down meal. Snack foods and the right lineup of beverages are really all you need.

3. Get Collaborative

Your friends are a great resource for helping you save money. Make a list of the food and supplies you need, and ask them to sign up for an item or two. This is a fun way for guests to feel like they’re participating, and it allows you to get everything you need without footing the entire bill. Co-hosting with a friend or roommate lets you split the economic and planning responsibilities.

4. Shop for Deals

At this time of year, you can find all kinds of party essentials on sale, from food to decorations. Plan ahead and start stockpiling early to give your budget a bit more breathing room. Also, don’t forget discount stores. You might be surprised to see how much $20 buys at a dollar store.

Another option is to buy in bulk. Going to a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco allows you to get more bang for your buck. Essentials like chips and dips, beverages, and veggie or cheese trays feed a lot of people at a fraction of grocery store cost. However, make sure your gathering is large enough to warrant large quantities. You don’t want to waste unnecessary money on perishable items.

5. Respect Your Neighbors

Whether you’re in a dorm or living off-campus, one of the most important rules of throwing a party is to not annoy your neighbors. It doesn’t matter if they’re across the street or down the hall, courtesy is important. Avoid all-nighters that could cause a rift with those who live within earshot.

Whether you want to host a small gathering with friends or a larger holiday event, you can do it on a student budget with a little bit of advance planning. If you need extra furniture for your special event, CORT Furniture Rental can provide the temporary help you need by providing a rental package at a discounted price.