Most people have several holiday parties to attend in the month before Christmas, which makes it difficult for anyone to attend one single party for several hours. However, that can work to your advantage. Let your guests off the hook by hosting a holiday open house. Not only is it fun and less work, but you can save loads of cash without looking cheap. When your guests are only on hand for an hour, they won’t notice the lack of variety.

Step 1: Choose a Time and Date
Aim for a Saturday night, preferably the first or second week in December rather than the weekend right before Christmas. That will make it possible for more people to attend your party, or stop by on their way to or from another party.

Step 2: Evites Are Your Friend
When it comes to hosting a frugal party, there’s nothing cheaper than eVite. They have several fun holiday themed invitations. You won’t have to fuss with telephone RSVPs, and it keeps track of the number of people promising to drop by.

Step 3: Choose Low-Budget Beverages
Since most of your guests will stop by for an hour or so, you don’t need a full bar. Opt for one type of white wine, one type of red wine, and one signature drink. Since it’s the holidays, eggnog or wassail are great options that you can make in advance with affordable ingredients. Be sure to have some non-alcoholic apple cider on hand for the kids. Set the drinks on the bar and let your guests serve themselves.

Step 4: Think Finger Foods
No one comes to an open house expecting a full meal. Instead, offer a few simple appetizers and desserts than can be eaten without forks and knives. Ideally, you should choose foods that can be served at room temperature. If you have a chaffing dish, then definitely use it to serve something warm, but don’t rent one just for the occasion. Avoid anything greasy like chips and dip, as well as anything containing crab or shrimp. Stick to small bites that can be finished in 1-3 bites and fit on small plates. Some ideas:
Bruschetta
Cheese platter
Veggie platter
Cheese ball and crackers (Scroll down to the second recipe)
Holiday cookies
Holiday truffles
Rum balls

Step 5: Skip Favors
No one goes to an open house expecting favors. Not to mention that your guests will be receiving enough small gifts from other people. If you feel you must give something, keep it simple. A candy cane with a thank you tag or a cellophane bag containing a decorated cookie is sufficient.

Step 6: You Don’t Need a Theme
You have a theme – the holidays. You’ve also already got the decorations on hand. You may want to decorate the buffet with a small holiday bouquet, but large ornaments or figurines will also dress up the table without too much effort or expense. There’s no need to buy a whole new set of decorations for the party. Create a festive mood with stuff you have on hand and candles scattered around the room, preferably on high surfaces like mantels to avoid catching anyone’s sleeve in the flame.

Step 7: Keep the Music Low
Holiday open houses are about mingling. Although you should have some music in the background to enhance the mood, stick to classic non-denominational carols at a low volume. Do not, under any circumstances, force people to sing.

With everything for your holiday open house in place, you’ll be able to greet your guests and enjoy yourself without running back and forth to the kitchen. Do stop by the buffet or bar every half hour to replenish, but other than that, go forth and be merry.

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