December means ’tis the season for a holiday party every weekend, and just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t throw your own. Just like all those classic movies tell us, the key to a great holiday party isn’t in the perfect Pinterest-inspired crafted baked goods, or the perfectly arranged Noble Fir. It’s all about friends, family, and sharing an evening together. That being said, there are plenty of ways to get festive decor, snacks and entertainment cheaply, and save your money for all that Christmas shopping you still have to do.
Throw Some Tinsel on It
It’s Christmas time, and what matters is good cheer and enthusiasm, not a display of DIY talent. Head to the Dollar Store or the Goodwill and deck out your apartment with all the glittering, gleaming, and twinkling knick-knacks your can get your hands on, and if that means draping a garland over your crumbling Ikea coffee table, so be it. Or, invite your guests to each bring an ornament to add to the tree. Bonus points if they try to bring the weirdest one they can find, or the one that best matches their personality — so you can remember who each is from! DIY crafts can also entertain guests — you can get creative making gingerbread houses, ornaments, painting nutcrackers or just decorating cards for your local busdrivers and baristas (it’s the holidays, so why not?).
Play Some Reindeer Games
People love games, especially when there is eggnog involved. Plus, they’re a great way to get everyone involved together, which, after all, is what Christmas time is all about. Don’t bother fiddling with board games or formal sit-downs, instead, try getting creative. Throw a Secret Santa party and ask each guest to bring a toy they think their assigned target would have liked as a kid, then enjoy having everyone try to guess who the gift is for. At the end, the toys can all be donated to Toys for Tots. Or, for a White Elephant, asks guests to bring a wrapped copy of their favorite movie on DVD, or favorite book, then try to guess who brought what. This has the added bonus of keeping all the gifts in the same price range. You can also use other creative themes for White Elephant, as well: Goodwill Gifts usually makes for some interesting finds.
Make a Christmas Card
DIY-photobooths are all the rage at weddings and parties these days, and holiday parties are the perfect occasion to try one for yourself. Hang up a sheet on the wall and decorate with a banner, a tree-lit backdrop, or a few balloons, then provide Santa Hats, reindeer antlers, ugly sweaters or whatever other odds and ends you can find, then play photographer. Invent a custom tag for everyone to use on Instagram #yournameChristmas2014?) and put your best mock-Christmas card photos in a Facebook album to share. Remember, Christmas cards are best when they’re awkward and involve cats.
Gather for a Good Cause
If you don’t have an evening free to throw a party, try getting together in the afternoon with a group of friends to volunteer at a local charity organization. Many programs that collect gifts for children and needy families need volunteers to help wrap presents after they’re been organized, and donation-driven food banks usually take volunteers at the holiday. Adopt-a-Family programs also need volunteers to wrap and deliver presents to needy families. Or, you might gather at someone’s house to put together small packages of toiletries and necessities for the homeless. There is genuinely nothing that can raise your holiday spirits like helping someone who needs it, even in small ways.