8 Tips for an Office Holiday Party on a Budget

It’s that time of year again - bells and cheer are in the air and your employees are needing some TLC. Holiday parties are known to boost morale, bring team unity, and give employees that much needed break before the New Year. Here are some tips and tricks to use when throwing a holiday party on a budget. The budget may be small, but the party can still be fabulous!

1. Have the party at the office or at someone’s home

You can save a tremendous amount of money on a venue if you utilize your office space, conference room, or someone’s home. Does one of your team members live in a large apartment building? Many buildings have amenity rooms that are available to reserve. We recently did this for one of our own parties and it worked out well.  If you can find someone willing to host or use some office space you’re already paying for, you can use the money elsewhere on more important things like food and drinks!

2. Throw a potluck

Not only will this help the budget, it’s going to cut back on the host’s responsibilities as well. If you are anything like me, I’m the host that will never ask for help, so this one really helps when it comes to getting everything prepped. Write out a list of items that are needed (ex: 2 appetizers, 3 desserts, 4 finger foods) and then have everyone sign up for a dish. In a small team environment it’s nice to have everyone contribute and it can certainly help the company’s checkbook. This type of party also acts as an ice breaker, striking up good conversation through the evening. Swapping recipes and getting to know more about your co-workers, that’s what it’s all about.


3. Throw a brunch or luncheon (people are over scheduled this time of year)

Think about throwing your party at an odd time. Maybe instead of taking over someone’s Friday night, you opt for a brunch or luncheon. With an oddly timed event you are less likely to conflict with employee’s busy holiday schedules and more likely to increase attendance rates. This also means you will likely spend less on alcohol - one of the biggest costs associated with throwing a holiday party! Maybe you offer mimosas or just some wine with lunch.

4. Use an online service for invites

There is no reason to spend money on paper invitations or stamps that will only be tossed in the trash. Paperless Post offers a beautiful selection of online invites that are fully customizable and FREE! You can also track RSVPs and send out reminders. This is surely the way to go to minimize costs and it’s environmentally friendly to boot.


Oh how I love Pinterest. If you haven’t jumped on this wagon yet, it is time! Pinterest is simple, just create a holiday board & start researching. Before you know it you will be drowning in a sea of low-cost party hosting options. Pinterest is a great resource for homemade games to play and DIY decorations. You can also get a lot of great ideas for inexpensive appetizers and drinks. My favorite Pinterest idea was a homemade photo booth. I purchased an old, large, picture frame, tied a bow around it and provided some holiday props for a photo op. It was so much fun and only cost about $15. Not only is it an activity for the party, it provides cute holiday photos to share on social media and around the office. So pin away dear friends, pin away!

6. Use your food as decorations

There's no need to buy fancy decorations when you can just use your food! You can find a bunch of holiday themed serving ideas on Pinterest. Some of my favorite decorations for last year’s holiday party (hosted in my apartment building’s amenity room of course) were the festive looking appetizers. One of my personal favorites were spinach wrapped pinwheels stacked as a Christmas tree. I also made candy covered Oreo pops and decorated them as snowmen. You can also do the same with a bag of colorful foil-wrapped chocolates or candies. Create simple party favors and use those as decorations. Think of putting together some chocolate coco with marshmallows and a candy cane. Wrap them up with some colorful ribbon and present them on a side table. It will add a lot of color to your party as well as a nice little surprise for your guests.

7.  Create one signature drink

There’s no reason to buy an entire bar. Create one signature drink and then go with some beers and wine. Your drink can be champagne or a hard alcohol concoction. That way you have a little bit of everything and your signature drink gets to be part of the décor of the party. Last year I created “Reindeer Bubbles”. If you want to adopt this idea as your own, just pour champagne in a plastic flute, fill the bottom with pomegranate seeds, and rim the glass with green sugar. Super tasty and very festive!

8.  Shop for serving items at thrift stores such as Goodwill or the dollar store

Shop for serving items, platters, and vases at thrift stores such as Goodwill, where you can often find glass cake stands, cupcake stands, and ceramic serving platters for less than $5 each. Last year I was able to find clear picture frames for 10¢ each that we used to label the food in festive colors. Again, letting the food and goodies work double time as decorations! Perhaps Mom has some extra serving trays collected over the years that she would let you borrow. If you have to buy something new, try to invest in items that can be used again to save money on future parties.

Take some time to do your research and you can absolutely throw a fabulous holiday party on a small budget. Get creative, have fun, and enjoy the holiday season!

Happy Holidays!

Charlee Van Wagenen