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The holiday season is in full swing and that means lots of holiday parties! This past weekend we threw a large holiday party and it all came together in a little under 3 weeks. We had 20 people attend our party and I was able to pull it off for around $200 which only works out to $10 per person. That included food, beverages, and decorations for my home. Want to know how I did it? I’m going to share all my tricks to planning a million dollar holiday party on a budget.
First things first. Decide the date of your party. Once you have decided on a date get the invitations ready to go out. While e-mail invitations are fine for casual gatherings, I really find that holiday parties need a mailed invitation. You can buy invitations or make your own. I made my own invitations and had them printed out in color on card stock at the local office supply store. If you’d like to use my holiday invitations you can get the free printable HERE. You can edit it to reflect the date of your party, the time, and your information for the RSVP.
The next best thing to do is start planning your menu and decorations 2 weeks before the party starts. I usually keep a notepad in the living room so I can write down ideas as I think of them. After I gather my list I sit down and try to figure out how much I will need of everything and how much it is going to cost. I often go with items that are filling such as dips with crackers and crostini or other bread items. Then I narrow the list down to be appropriate for how many people are coming.
Next I plan my beverages. A signature cocktail or beverage is a must at any holiday party. I like to have one or two signature drinks that I can pour in large jugs for everyone to share. Then I’ll have water and soda in coolers for everyone else to drink. I often choose beverages that have some of the same ingredients in order to stretch my budget. After I’ve planned the food and drink I write myself a shopping list.
One week before the party I like to do all of my shopping for food, beverages, and party decorations. I headed to Walmart because it’s the easiest place to get everything I need. I piled crackers, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, and other ingredients into my cart. I also bought Stove Top Stuffing and Kraft Shreds to make my favorite Jalapeno Cheddar Mac N Cheese Bites. Then I headed over to the holiday aisle and picked up some holiday themed cups, napkins, and paper plates. Do yourself a favor and buy disposable plates and cups if you are having a large number of people at your party, it’ll save you time on clean up at the end of the night!
Five days before the party I started making the decorations and name plates for the food and drinks. I created this super cute free printable that you can use for name plates at your holiday party. Simply download the printable, type out the names of your food and drink items, and print it in color! Name plates for food and beverage are a must have at all parties so you don’t spend all night explaining the food and drinks. You can get my free printable holiday name plates HERE.
Two days before the party I made all my baked good. I got the cupcakes, cookies, and fudge made, decorated, and sealed in containers. The day before the party my husband did a thorough cleaning of the house while I prepped all the food. I mixed up all the dips and placed them in their serving containers in the refrigerator. Some of them would need to be heated before serving so instead of putting them in a container with a lid I put them in the dish that I will use to heat them up in the oven and to serve them. This makes less mess and means less clean up for me!
The day of the party we simply put the finishing touches on everything. I put the meatballs in the slow cooker, baked the crab artichoke bread, and made the jalapeno cheddar mac n cheese bites. I poured the beverages into the serving containers and set out the cups. I put all of the cold food out and put the name plates next to them. When the guests started arriving I put the hot food in the oven and 20-30 minutes later I put all the hot food on the table.
Since I had everything taken care of days in advance I was able to enjoy our holiday party the rest of the night! Are you having a holiday party? If so you are going to want to make these Jalapeno Mac N Cheese Bites. They were simple to make and were a huge hit at our holiday party. They are bite sized, packed with flavor, and a fun way to east mac n cheese.
- 2 c. elbow macaroni
- 2 T. butter, melted
- 1 c. Kraft cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 c. Kraft Itailan blend cheese, shredded
- ⅔ c. low fat milk
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 t. paprika
- ½ t. dry mustard
- 1 t. black pepper
- ½ t. salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 T. pickled jalapenos, minced
- ½ c. Stove Top Stuffing (dry)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 T. butter, melted
- 1 t. black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the macaroni noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the butter, cheddar cheese, Italian blend cheese, milk, garlic, paprika, pepper, and salt. Mix well.
- Stir in the beaten egg and the jalapenos.
- Add the cooked macaroni noodles and stir until the noodles are well coated.
- Spoon the macaroni mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine all the topping ingredients. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture over top of each macaroni bite.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the bites are browned.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before running a butter knife around the edges.
- Pop out the mac n cheese bites and serve hot.
Do you need more party inspiration? Check out the Cooking Up Good website. It has recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!