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5 ways to save on Christmas entertaining

A couple shares gifts at Christmas.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when planning a party. These tips can help you focus on what really matters—friends, family and the joy of the season.

1. Take inventory

Make a list of specific party needs, but don’t forget to use what you already have. Take stock of what items you have at home (even if they aren’t exactly Christmas-themed) to avoid repurchasing things like paper products, snacks or decorations.

2. Make it a potluck

Food is a highlight of the holiday season, so bring your guests together at the table. Encourage guests to bring their favorite appetizers, entrees, desserts or drinks, and share their traditional holiday recipes with the group. Create a meal sign-up ahead of time to avoid multiples of one dish.

3. Snag some deals

Whether you’re shopping for food or decorations, skip the specialty party and grocery stores. Head to your local discount store and use generic brands to save on party supplies and basic cooking ingredients. Shop sales early for pantry items and take advantage of post-holiday sales to stock up on decorative items for next year’s party.

4. Set up a hot cocoa bar

A fully stocked bar can get expensive, so substitute alcohol with a hot cocoa bar. Let your guests top their drinks with marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream and sprinkles.

5. Give your guests gift guidance

If you decide to exchange gifts with your guests, set a price limit. Organize a Secret Santa or a white elephant exchange prior to the party so each person only buys one gift. It will allow everyone to give and receive fun gifts that fit in their holiday budget.