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How to Throw an Easy Holiday Party on a Budget

We recently got the best holiday party planning tips from our foodie friend Maris Callahan at In Good Taste. They were so good, we just had to share!
This time of year begins the entertaining season, whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving, a holiday gift exchange or an annual cookie swap. If you want to keep things low cost and low maintenance we have a few holiday party planning tips and themes to help you celebrate the season with minimal stress and resources.

Shop Online

Instacart is my favorite way to buy groceries, especially when it’s cold out and stores are chaotic because of holidays. Order groceries via its website or mobile app, and a personal shopper delivers them in as little as an hour. Great when it’s too cold to go outside and you’d rather, say, keep the oven on to bake cookies!

Host a Cookie Swap

Everyone loves baking around the holidays, even if they aren’t regularly a baker. Invite your friends to bring a batch of their favorite cookies, and everyone can take a few different cookies home. My favorite recipes are Sweet William’s Spirited Chocolate Chip, Malted Chocolate Chip or Healthier Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies (notice the theme here?). If you’re really not a baker or if you just don’t have the time, I’m loving the Mason Jar Cookie Company, where everything you need is already in the jar in the exactly right proportions — you just add the fresh dairy at home (recipes work with butter and egg substitutes — buttery spreads, coconut oil, egg replacers and other non-dairy and vegan tricks).

Make a Signature Cocktail

It can get very pricy to stock a full bar with wines and all types of different liquors. Instead of trying to please everyone, make one special seasonal cocktail, like a Poinsettia, made with one part vodka, one part sparkling wine or champagne and two parts cranberry juice. Garnish with an orange or fresh cranberries to make it nice and festive.

Host a Wine and Cheese Party, BYOB

If you are a cheese lover, there is no better pairing than wine and cheese! To keep costs down, order a nice variety of cheeses and ask all of your guests to bring a bottle of their favorite red, white or bubbly. You can mix and match and save your favorite pairings for next time.
We shared some of our favorite ideas on the CBS Chicago Morning News — watch it here.
Thanks for the tips, Maris! What’s your favorite type of holiday party? —Jenn

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