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9 Tips for a $99 Holiday Cocktail Party

  November 6, 2017  |    #Live Fabulously

Your fabulous holiday cocktail party

We’d love to throw a cocktail party to make Margo Channing punch-drunk happy, but most of us don’t have her purse strings and certainly not those of Bette Davis. That’s why we created this list of fabulous holiday cocktail party ideas for a down-low cost budget.

A holiday cocktail party eccentric enough for the rich

I’m not even a Bette Davis fan – “take his gay-card!” – but she’s clearly speaking to me about this holiday cocktail party of all holiday cocktail parties. But for the fact that we have a smaller budget than her, even in death, this suits.

So, you want to throw a holiday cocktail party for all your party boys, but you don’t want to blow your holiday wad. I get it. You want to save that blow and your wad for something else. Well, the list below is all you need.

1. Variety is the spice of life, but the death of a party budget

Variety is good for a healthy diet and an exciting sex life. It’s expensive when throwing a holiday cocktail party on a small budget.

Vodka, gin, whiskey, beer, wine, bubbly – that’s a nice variety, but this is a party where you want to provide a more unique experience than your corner gay bar.

For this purpose, a signature cocktail or drink is more than enough. Try a retro rum punch, rosemary Collins, cranberry margs, or my favorite, whiskey slush. If you want to complement your signature cocktail with a case of beer or a moderately priced wine, go holiday ballz to the wallz.

Remember, too, that if your guests are good at being guests, many will bring wine or something else to show their appreciation for your hospitality.

2. The queens eat less than 50% of the food, so spend less on food

What’s rarer than a unicorn hopped up on frankincense and myrrh? A recovering disco queen double-fisting it at the buffet table. Therefore, do yourself a favor and save yourself the struggle, the time and the money on a full-spread buffet.

Should you provide food? Yes! Should you prepare so much food that your guests break the holiday sleigh weigh-station on their way home? No.

In a few short weeks, you and every single one of your guests will want to shed 10-pounds of holiday weight. Save everyone the calories and simply provide enough food so no one goes hungry and everyone has enough to absorb your fabulous signature cocktail.

A simple cheese, charcuterie and bread spread with extra-virgin olive oil, likely the only virgin at your homo holiday cocktail party, is a good base. Put out some nuts – too easy – crumbled dark chocolate and crudité, and no one will walk away unsatisfied.

3. The fanciest looking holiday decorations are inexpensive lights & candles

Just as we’re expected to dress well, travel far, and love Judy Garland, we’re expected to have the best-decorated house on the block. This may be the expectation, but it’s also expensive.

Unless you’re one of the wise men who remember and then actually buy holiday decorations and cards December 26, holiday decorations are cost-prohibitive for a thrifty holiday cocktail party.

Not only are candles and inexpensive holiday lights great for creating a warm and intimate mood, they’ll make all your guests look younger and skinnier. You could put up a tree, put out trinkets and more (judy) garland, but they cost more than they’re worth, clutter your space and can seem cheap if overdone.

4. The ‘White Christmas’ station on Pandora is free and classy

Another way to set the right mood is to have the right tunes. It’s probably unthinkable to throw a gay holiday cocktail party without Madonna playing in the background, but it’s unthinkable to play Madonna’s version of Santa Baby over Eartha Kitt’s.

Pull up ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Rat Pack Christmas’ on free Pandora for free and you’ll have all the best holiday tunes you’ll need with just a few pesky commercials – think of them as the cost of a modern-day DJ who plays pots and pans.

5. Host post-dinner, pre-cocktails

The holidays are so food-centric that by the end of the holiday season everyone wants a gastronomic holiday. So, make your pre-planned holiday cocktail party a mid-holiday hiatus.

Your invite shouldn’t say, “come over after dinner and leave when it’s time to hit the bars!” Invite your guests over at 7 pm or 8 pm, and sell your party on the place to be before everyone hits the clubs. This way, no one expects you to provide dinner, just a few apps, and most people will leave before they get too crazy.

6. BYOB before the HCP (holiday cocktail party)

Want to hack your holiday cocktail party? Throw an impromptu or less organized party ahead of your formal holiday cocktail party. Tell your guests that the former is BYOB. BOYB partiers usually leave a solid stash of booze that can be your stock for the latter party.

With this secret stash, your holiday cocktail party guests who were raised right and your signature cocktail, you’ll have more than enough for your guests and not too much for your wallet.

7. Announce it’s BYOB, then surprise with your signature cocktail

The most expensive item at most any party is the alcohol. That’s why we’re putting so much emphasis on alcohol in this article about your holiday cocktail party. If you don’t want to pre-hack your holiday cocktail party, you can always just hack it. Tell your friends the party is BYOB and that you’ll provide the bombdiggidy food and shelter.

Then, surprise all your guests with your signature cocktail.

8. Brew cinnamon and nutmeg to smell Christmasy

The more you can stimulate all five senses at your holiday cocktail party, the more your party will stimulate your guests. But, this isn’t your grandpa’s party, so don’t waste your money on a Yankee Candle.

Make your holiday party smell christmasy with a homemade potpourri of cinnamon and nutmeg on your stove. This’ll put a holiday hint in the air and humidity for your guests’ skin.

9. Save more by giving more – tax deduction

Face it! The best part of the holidays is getting free stuff.


The best part of the holiday season is that it’s a giving season. So, get more by giving more. Dress your holiday cocktail party up as a fundraiser for your favorite charity. Ask your friends to all make nominal donations to your charity of choice. This way, you can write off all your holiday party expenses against your personal taxes.

It’s the best because Uncle Sam is essentially throwing your party for free. Again, NO! It’s the best because you and your guests will be giving to people in need.

The thing with holiday parties is that we often go over the top. While we’re not against tops in any way, shape or form, but(t) busting a budget you could barely afford is hardly the way to end the year. Figure out what parts of a holiday cocktail party are most important to you and your party guests, and you’ll throw an awesome fest for less.

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