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Planning an office end-of-year shindig? Having friends over for drinks? Either way, a Christmas party should be festive but it shouldn’t be crushingly expensive. Try these tips on for size.

  1. Buy decorations cheap after Christmas. They never date. And if you buy well-made, stylish basics (e.g., modern minimalist Christmas tree, wooden decorations, LED fairy lights) they’ll live to see more Christmases. Avoid the disposable plastic tat – dumping everything in the bin afterwards is not a “cheap” option by anyone’s standards.
  2. Even better, use things you already own. If the party’s at your place, raid your cupboards. Do you have some green bowls? Red flowers in the garden? For that matter, why stick to the traditional green and red? Take inspiration from store windows and go wild.
  3. Find a drinks deal. There’s no need to overspend or resort to the cheap stuff – Christmas grog deals are everywhere, from Dan Murphys and the other big chains, to Aldi. Note: if you order cases from local wineries, distilleries or breweries (either direct or as part of a sympathetic wine club) you’re helping Aussie small businesses have a good Christmas too.
  4. Designate a Christmas cocktail. Make up batches beforehand, stick the empty bottles outside in the recycling and no-one will know you’ve used cheaper spirits. Even better, freeze the stuff! Also, If you fear some of your guests might imbibe too freely, water down the alcohol ratio with mixers, adding a festive garnish as a distraction.
  5. Time/date/place. The cheapest venue is usually your office or home. But if that’s not an option, book for mid-week rather than a Friday or Saturday, book in advance, and encourage a daytime event.
  6. Put a time limit on the event. Book your venue until an agreed hour, at which point you’ll be gently kicked out by the venue. Not only does that help stop the messy drunk factor, it also makes it cheaper. Those who want to party on will anyway, elsewhere.
  7. Eatin’s cheatin’. After you’ve sent round the plates of cute, bite-sized party food, lay out a leg of ham and rolls with mustard so people can DIY a snack when they feel like it; or some soft cheeses and bread, or some pastizzis. It doesn’t need to be cordon bleu by that stage, just carb-loading.
  8. Encourage competitiveness. If you have friends or co-workers who fancy themselves as cooks or bakers, encourage them to show off their skills with some snacks or desserts in a Christmas theme.
  9. Utensils. Supply food that doesn’t need utensils or plates to save on buying them, and you’re also not adding to landfill.
  10. Entertainment. Ask your guests to nominate favourite tracks for a party playlist and arrange the tracks strategically for the event. Make sure there’s a safe, clear space for dancing. And if someone in your office or social circle is in a band, and they’re reasonably good, get them to play a set. It’ll be fun and no-one will really care what kind of music they play.