7 mistakes that make your holiday party look cheap

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5 Ways to Throw a Holiday Party on a Budget

There's a fine line between frugal and cheap. And when you're hosting a holiday party, it's important to tread that line carefully. You don't have to spend all of your cash on decorations and supplies. In fact, it's easy to throw a great office party or plan a New Year's Eve bash on a small budget. But if you make any of these mistakes, your thrifty event might seem tacky to your guests.

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1. Only Serving Cheese and Crackers

The people who RSVP to your holiday party probably aren't expecting to enjoy a three-course meal. Serving appetizers is a great way to cut down on your expenses, but it's best to offer more than a single platter of food. After all, your guests won't be happy if they have to head over to McDonald's as soon as they leave your event.

If you're worried about satisfying your guests' hunger, you can ask your friends or co-workers to bring in a side dish or dessert. If a potluck wouldn't be appropriate for your function, you can serve a few different appetizers and hors d'oeuvres or something simple (like miniburgers) that won't break the bank.

2. Skimping on Supplies

You can probably do without a fancy ice sculpture and custom-made invitations. But running out of the basic party essentials might make you look like a rookie and a cheapskate.

As you prepare your budget, it's important to prioritize and decide what you need to purchase and what you can leave out. Even if it saves you money, skimping on ice, cups and plates will only stress you out and inconvenience your guests.

3. Having a Cash Bar

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There's nothing worse than inviting someone to a holiday party and forcing them to pay for their drinks. In theory it's a good idea because you can invest a lot of money into your event and then pay yourself back with whatever you earn from handing out cocktails and martinis. In reality, you might have a hard time getting people to attend your social gatherings in the future.

If you think alcohol costs will swallow up a large portion of your budget, you can skip the open bar altogether and provide a limited selection of themed drinks made specifically for the party. If it's a casual affair, your guests can bring their own bottles so you can save on wine and beer.

Related Article: 7 Tips for Throwing a Holiday Party for Less

4. Having an Office Party in the Office

It might be hard to get your employees excited about a holiday party that's taking place inside your office conference room. Work parties are meant to be relaxed. But it won't be easy to unwind if everyone's computers are a few yards away.

Companies working on a tight budget don't have to rent out a huge room at a five-star hotel. A party at a restaurant or a bar can be inexpensive and fun.

5. Failing to Provide Entertainment

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A holiday party without music or games could bore your guests. And as the host, you might get offended if your guests spend the majority of the night on their phones. You can't expect your attendees to entertain themselves and since you're in charge of the event, it's your job to make sure everyone's having a great time.

Playing music in the background through Spotify or another music streaming service is an easy way to eliminate awkward silences. Raffling off a reasonably priced door prize or two can also help break the ice.

6. Not Having Any Decorations

Think your friends won't notice that you failed to decorate? Think again. Decorations can make a drab venue look more inviting. Without any decor, however, your soiree might just seem bland and dingy.

If worst comes to worst, you can always reuse the materials you've saved from previous parties. Decorative lights, for instance, can easily be recycled. Other items – like table cloths and candles – can be purchased from a dollar store for next to nothing.

The Holidays Don't Have to Break Your Budget

7. Leaving the Tags on the Items You're Returning

Maybe your plan is to buy decorations and return them once your holiday party is over. While that's technically not a crime, imagine how embarrassed you'll be if your guests notice that you've tucked in the price tags. The $500 light fixture you thought would impress everyone instead suggests that you either can't manage money or you're cheap.

The Bottom Line

Your holiday party can be a success even if you don't have a big budget to work with. As you brainstorm ways to keep costs low, it's a good idea to consider whether your ideas will come off as trashy rather than classy.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/poba, ©iStock.com/DragonImages

The post 7 Mistakes That Make Your Holiday Party Look Cheap appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

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Money-saving online shopping hacks
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7 mistakes that make your holiday party look cheap

1. Clear your browser history

Some retailers might sneakily increase prices based on your browsing patterns and demand - so make sure to always clear your history and cookies before shopping! 

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2. Use an alternate email address

When you log in to a retailer's site with a new email address, retailers will often welcome you as a new customer with exciting new promotions and discounts. 

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3. Note price changes throughout the week

Another pro tip: Prices and deals can fluctuate based on the day of the week. For instance, if you're purchasing a flight, monitor prices for around a week to see if they take a dip on any particular day before purchasing. 

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4. Let items linger in your cart

Here's a hack: Add items to your cart, but let them sit for 24 hours before purchasing. The retailer might attempt to lure you back with additional discounts.

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5. Check out multiple sites

Do some research! Don't settle for the first price you see - poke around on a search engine and find the best deal. 

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6. Bargain with customer service

Use customer service to your advantage. If you ask (politely!) about an expired coupon, you'll often find yourself pleasantly surprised by an extension or new code! 

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7. Don't purchase impulsively

Try this shopping hack - don't buy that shiny, new toy right away. Step away for a few hours, and if you find yourself itching to go back and click 'purchase', then you know you won't regret your investment!

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8. Avoid shipping fees

Take advantage of free shipping! If you are a few dollars below the free shipping price point, add a low-cost filler item you need anyway (like socks!) and make the math work out in your favor. 

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