5 Tips to Create an Affordable Holiday Affair

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5 Tips to Stretch Your Party Budget


The holidays are rapidly approaching. Before you pour yourself a hot toddy, sport your favorite pair of dancing shoes and put Mariah Carey on repeat, you may have some serious holiday party planning to do. Whether you’re celebrating with family, friends, or co-workers this season, here are five tips to stretch your party budget and create a memorable and affordable affair:


       1. Find a space you can easily transform.

If your home just isn’t big enough for your crowd (the more the merrier, right?), it’s worth the hunt to find a terrific venue that fits your anticipated headcount without blowing the majority of your budget. The more beautiful and open the raw space is, the less you'll have to decorate, and the easier it will be to create your vision for the party. Found the perfect spot that’s slightly outside of your budget? Ask if they have lower rates for “off-peak” days or in January after the major holiday rush. Pro-tip: Ask for a floor plan so that you can map everything out ahead of time (and reduce your own stress level when it comes time to set up for the party!).


       2. All-inclusive packages.

Photo: Kelly Allison

Photo: Kelly Allison

Estimating food and beverage minimums has been known to cause anxiety, and bar tabs add up real quick if you’re paying based on consumption. To eliminate any big budgetary surprises in the aftermath of your celebration, try negotiating food and beverage packages based on a fixed price per guest, or better yet, find a venue that allows you to bring in your own food and drinks! Companies like Drizly can deliver your alcohol to save you from schlepping it to the venue, and Binny’s Beverage Depot will accept returns on any unopened alcohol (assuming there’s any left over at the end of the night…).

        3. Get creative with your décor.

Nimble Well Place Settings - Photo: Kelly Allison

Whether you take a more Pinterest-friendly DIY approach or leave the decorating to the experts, you can establish your party’s vibe with even a small décor budget. A simple table runner and candles, for example, can do wonders. Before you get started, ask your venue for the quantity, dimensions, and photos of any furniture that’s included with your rental. This will help determine how you can work with what’s already available to you, and whether or not you’ll need to bring in additional furniture, linens, etc. to transform your space. Rental companies like Nimble Well can add unique charm to your place settings and tablescapes without breaking the bank, and smaller floral arrangements from local shops like Fleur can double as a parting gift for your guests. Another festive way to decorate is using a tried and true party staple – Luft Balloons’ custom color palettes and DIY kits make sophisticated balloon installations easy, fun, and affordable.


       4. Entertain and engage your guests.

Photo: Smilebooth

Photo: Smilebooth

What’s the ‘wow’ factor that helps set your event apart from all the other parties your guests will attend this season? Whether you decide to break out an old school record player, splurge for a classical guitarist to serenade your dinner party with holiday favorites, or enlist your guests to help curate the perfect holiday playlist to get the whole room dancing, music is essential. Be sure to double-check what audio/visual equipment your venue has on-site so you don’t encounter any technical issues when trying to play that video or slideshow you worked so hard to prepare. And let’s not forget an interactive photo booth so your guests can take home some fun memories from the night and share how much fun they’re having!


       5. Ask for a holiday discount.

This one seems obvious, but it never hurts to ask about any special promotions or discounts from all the companies and vendors you are working with. People tend to feel particularly generous this time of year, and the worst they can say is ‘bah humbug!’


Workshop Chicago is hosting 'Gather & Give’ parties this November through January. In the spirit of giving, we’re offering a discount on your room rental - you'll save 5% to stretch your party budget and we’ll donate another 5% to the charity of your choice. To sweeten the deal, a few of our favorite local businesses (including many of the aforementioned ones) are offering discounted products and services to help plan your holiday party at Workshop. ‘Tis the season to Gather & Give!

Header photo: John Thompson