12 Days of Saving Money: Don't Drink Your Budget Away

Wrapped PresentNow that we've covered how to save money on food at your holiday party, let's turn to another very important aspect of the celebration: drinks! Here are five tips for cutting costs on holiday libations:

Order what you can on consumption. Unlimited bars can get expensive fast, and that's before you even factor in tax and tip. Generally, the number of heavier drinkers in your group won't make up for the money lost on all the light drinkers. It's better to opt to pay just for what's consumed and return unused drinks without charge.

Open only when you pour. As long as you're paying based on consumption, ask bartenders to not open any new bottles of wine or liquor until necessary. There's no need to have three or four bottles of wine "at the ready"—your guests can wait a few seconds for it to be uncorked. And remember that the same goes for seated dinners: instruct waiters to not open a new bottle or even refill a drink until it's requested.

Limit salty foods. There's a reason bars offer pretzels and peanuts for free: they make you thirsty! Opting for appetizers or meals that are more savory or sweet rather than salty is a small adjustment, but every bit helps.

Pick tap water over bottled. Remember that not all your guests will be enjoying a cocktail; make sure to have water and sodas on hand as well. Request that tap water is served in glasses instead of offering individual bottles. Not only is this a money-saver, it's also much less wasteful.

Limit your drink stations. When calculating how many bars to set up, don't worry too much about lines. Don't assume one or two stations are suitable for 300 guests, but aim to have just enough so that they're never always empty. An average size line will limit the number of drinks consumed, which is better for your event budget—and probably better for your guests' state of mind as well.

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