Planning a holiday party can be both exciting and stressful. Knowing how to tackle a simple theme that guests will enjoy without breaking the bank is sometimes easier said than done. If you are willing to mix it up with a little do-it-yourself and budget shopping, you can pull off a holiday party that will leave guests with full stomachs and hearts. Here are five tips on how to plan a party that will leave you financially stable.
1. Go for one-pot dishes: Making a casserole such as lasagna or a large pot of pasta gives you room for little to no cleanup and also saves major dough. Another option is to throw a potluck and encourage guests to bring a dish of their choice. Also, consider a night of filling finger foods like stuffed potato skins or guacamole and chips. I am the queen of heading to Trader Joe’s for delicious, diverse finger foods. Most grocery stores offer a variety of appetizers for less than $5. Serving finger foods throughout the night rather than all at once is a great way to save food and keep guests full all night.

2. Don’t be afraid of the dollar store: The dollar store can be your one- stop shop for everything from napkins to plastic champagne glasses. And let me tell you, after a few drinks, you’re going to be happy you bought plastic and there is not broken glass all over the floor. You can also score cheap decorative candles and candy to make baskets for guests.

3. Personalized cards for each guest: Handwritten cards are a great way to add a personal touch and expression of gratitude to each guest. Lay each card out on a table, and scatter flowers and tea candles around them for an affordable, warm touch.

4. Pick a theme: “Champagne and Croissants,” “Michael Jackson and Merriment,” “A Scandal-ous 2014″– the options are endless. Pair your favorite playlist, food or TV show to create the theme for the evening. It doesn’t cost a dime to be creative!

5. Serve just one signature cocktail: Buying 10 different bottles can cost half your rent before you know it. Create one signature cocktail, and give it a creative name that guests will always remember. Mulled wine, vodka and rums are good bases to please a variety of palettes. If you are looking for a little bubbly to cheers the night, prosecco is a great, affordable option.