Instead of traditional table linens, burlap fabric makes an inexpensive, rustic-chic tablecloth or runner. Lay a few branches down the length of your table for a festive feel. Elevate the look by adding candlesticks topped with mini pumpkins or ornaments.
Another budget-friendly centerpiece is a footed tureen piled high with clementines. In the fall and winter, you can often find crates of them in the grocery store for cheap! Tuck a few leaves between the fruits for contrast and color.
For a cheap, easy, and crowd-pleasing appetizer, offer hot buttered popcorn with a seasonal twist. Try tossing with rosemary and cumin for savory flavor. Or sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon for a sweet spin.
When it comes to drinks, save money when serving a crowd by offering a selection of beer and wine and then one signature cocktail. Sangria is a popular choice because you can mix a budget-friendly wine with fruit juice (try sparkling!) in big batches. Stir in diced fruit to drive home seasonal flavors.
Instead of creating a custom playlist with songs at a dollar a pop (adds up quickly when you consider it takes about 80 songs to fill an evening's worth of jams), tune into a free online radio station, such as Spotify.
Create your own party station by preselecting some of your favorite tunes or choose one of their curated playlists or stations.
Have extra soap, hand towels, and toilet paper easily accessible in the bathroom. Ensure trash and recycling are clearly marked. Make sure corkscrews, napkins, and glasses are in clear view so friends can help themselves.
Bonus! Prepping these essentials ahead of time means your guests won't have to interrupt you to ask for help.
Focus on relationships above all else, because that's what your guests will take away with them at the end of the night. Storytelling and memory-making doesn't cost a penny.
Use this time together to ask the elders in your family about their first holiday memories from their childhoods. A spirited board game, snowball fight, or sledding trip can also get the laughter rolling.