When you think of a company holiday party, does your imagination immediately drift off to the Mad Men-era of fancy events, heavy on the booze? If yes, you’re also probably seeing dollar signs, holiday office parties were once known for coming with a large price tag. Don’t worry though, we’ve got good news! You don’t need to break the bank to host an unforgettable party. Here are our tips to create an amazing holiday party on a budget.

Start planning early.
The early bird gets the worm — and the early planner gets the best price. If you’re operating on a tight budget for your corporate holiday party, you want to start planning six months in advance. This gives you the best selection of dates, venues, and caterers. Not only do prices increase as the holidays approach, but you’ll have a hard time finding availability.

Planning can get overwhelming really fast. Check out our tips for planning a corporate holiday party. y.

Select the right date.
Not all dates are created equal — especially when it comes to the holidays. Weekends are expensive and your employees will likely not want to give their Saturday night up. Monday through Wednesday aren’t popular options, which means they are the best choice for a holiday office party on a budget.

Scheduling your party during an ‘off time’ is the best way to snag a great spot on the cheap. If you do opt for a mid-week outing, consider a later start to the following work day and win brownie points from everyone. Read our tips on selecting the right date for your holiday office party.

Choose food wisely.
Most companies opt for a buffet over a sit-down dinner, but that’s not always the cheapest option. With a buffet, you have a greater variety and quantity of foods available, which can sometimes come at a cost. A sit-down dinner gives the appearance of a more elegant affair and eliminates standing in line. Check with your caterers and venue to see what options they offer when it comes to food. If you’re looking for something more casual, consider a cocktail reception with plenty of appetizers.

If you’re really looking to save, host a lunch over a dinner. Your employees will love closing the office a bit early to celebrate and you can save on overall costs for your event.

Find the right venue.
You’ve found the perfect venue, only to find out you’re responsible for providing all decorations. This can add up quickly and easily cost most of your party budget. Most holiday office budgets usually go to food and venue, so pay careful attention to what you’re booking. Look for a venue that has great ambiance to begin with. If decor is needed, try to book everything through your venue’s event planner – they are the experts and often have discounts available.

Limit beverage options.
To serve or not to serve — that is the question. In recent years, more companies are deciding not to offer alcohol at their holiday party. While you will definitely save money, there are still plenty of ways to stay in budget while serving alcohol. One option is to offer cocktails for a set time in the beginning, then offer wine and beer during dinner. Consider creating a signature cocktail if you want options outside of beer and wine. Another ooption is to distribute drink tickets and capping each attendee to two free drinks. No matter what you decide, make sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic options.

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