Light up the Holidays With a Festive Dinner Party on a Budget

What's Hot

5 Reasons to Shop for a Home in DecemberFamily

Shoppers Boycott Businesses Selling Trump-Branded ProductsBusiness

15 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar StoreMore

Giving Thanks: Why Foreigners Find America AmazingAround The House

New Email Phishing Scam Targets Amazon ShoppersMore

50 Best Gifts Under $25 for Everyone on Your ListFamily

Why Washing Your Turkey Can Make You IllFamily

Pay $2 and Get Unlimited Wendy’s Frosty Treats in 2017Family

The 7 Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar StoreMore

What the Richest 1 Percent Earns in Every StateFamily

10 Ways to Retire Earlier Than Friends on the Same SalaryGrow

The 10 Best Ways to Blow Your MoneyCredit & Debt

The 50 Hottest Toys of the Past 50 YearsFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

My holiday mission: a dinner party for 10 for $200 – and everyone will think I spent twice as much.

The following post is from Rachel Sayre at partner site

Now that my new house looks at least minimally habitable, I’ve convinced my fiance that now is the perfect time to show off our house and indulge in one of my favorite things: themed parties. Holidays + 8 of our closest friends + fabulous new house = the perfect recipe for my dream party. The one caveat? I’m on a strict budget of $200.

Have yourself a merry little drink

Trader Joe’s is my friend for holiday magic in a bottle. This specialty grocery chain (in only nine states, sadly) has cheap, good wine. I need three bottles of red for dinner, and I’ll keep them each under $8.

My fiance will be giving tours of our house when friends arrive, so I’ll make sangria for the occasion. For two pitchers, I’ll need: two bottles of cheap red wine (Two-Buck Chuck is perfect for this), a few teaspoons of sugar, two sliced oranges, one can of ginger ale, one cup of cheap rum, and a long skewer of bright red cherries.

Drinks total: $46

Dinner is a beautiful sight

In my mind, a holiday party has a table full of colorful dishes straight out of one of my favorite holiday movies. To make that happen on a budget, I’m skipping a meat-based main dish in favor of lots of dishes. By the end of this cozy feast, everyone will be going home full and happy.

To find the best prices, my sleigh will be making a few stops: Costco for items I’ll need a lot of (like carrots, bread, and spinach), the local farmer’s market for items that are in season, Whole Foods for items I just need a little bit of and can get out of bulk bins, and Safeway for the rest.

Here’s what I’m thinking: hearty split pea soup ($12); artisan bread from Costco ($6); a red and green salad with spinach, red onions, dried cranberries, and salmon ($22); a big plate of sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil ($19); a large bowl of kale with cranberries in a balsamic sauce ($8); a big plate of grilled portobell0 mushrooms with glazed carrots and sweet potatoes ($21); one-half of a roasted acorn squash drizzled with brown sugar per person ($5); and a medium bowl of natural chicken, walnuts, and green bean salad ($19).

I’m sacrificing organic for conventional in a few cases, but I’m trying to make those choices judiciously, with an eye toward what produce tends to absorb pesticides less than others.

Dinner total: $112

Maybe just half a slice more

Hands-down dream dessert: creamy, melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake. I found a delicious pumpkin cheesecake recipe on the Food Network that I’m going to test-run this weekend.

Dessert total: $25

That brings my first-holiday-dinner-party-in-my-new-home total to $183. I’ll use some of the leftover cash to turn my lights down low, put up some holiday lights inside, and create a great atmosphere with candles from a dollar store. And, of course, a little mistletoe for above the door.

Now, with my dream party all planned, I hope I’ll be dreaming of sugar plum fairies and eggnog tonight.

For more budgeting tips, including free budgeting tools, visit and follow Adaptu on Twitter!

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: Warning Signs for 7 of the Most Common Tax Scams

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,725 more deals!