10 low-cost and low-waste ways to dazzle your guests this holiday season

Take the stress (and supersized costs) out of your holiday planning this year

By
Katie Overmonds
on
October 31, 2022
Category:
Smart Home
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Thanksgiving and the holiday season is just around the corner, which often means in addition to joy and merriment, comes higher bills and unexpected costs. Eek! Even for the most budget-conscious among us, this time of year can get costly. 

Specifically, we’re thinking about hosting family and friends coming from out of town. What’s the best way to prep our homes for guests without blowing the budget or creating a lot of waste? 

We’ve narrowed it down to our favorite 10 tips for saving money and waste when hosting guests over the holidays: 

1. Print your own invitations or do evites

Why spend loads of money on expensive invitations when you can print your own like these ones on Etsy? For just a few bucks you can find an invite that goes perfectly with your holiday theme, customize it with all your party specifics and then I get the finalized PDF version via email. Even cheaper? Try your hand at graphic design for free on Canva! 

2. Gift (ahem – regift!) them something upon arrival 

Loved the Viola Davis biography when you read it and now ready to pass it along to its next good home? Regift that baby! Books and magazines (at least somewhat recent ones) make great welcome gifts to leave on your guest bed to make your visitors feel at home. No purchases required! 

3. Make their laundry experience lovely 

Got guests staying for a few days or more? Bring some delight to their laundry load! If you haven’t upgraded your home’s laundry experience to no-waste, what are you waiting for? The options for making your laundry day eco-friendly with laundry strips, wool dryer balls etc are endless. And super cute too! The only hazard? Your guests will want to find reasons to stay longer to do another load. 

4. Same goes for toiletries! 

Nothing makes a guest feel welcomed and pampered like luxurious shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank or shell out for travel sized (wasteful) plastic packaging. Pick up a cute set of bottles (extra points for ones made from recycled materials) on Etsy, then fill them up with shampoo, body wash and conditioner from your local no-waste shop.

5. Surprise and delight them with a unique airport pickup

Looking to save money on an airport pickup? Say goodbye to parking fees, gas tank fill ups and mileage by meeting your visitors at the airport and heading home together on public transit. What better way to help them feel like a local than to see the sights from the bus? (OK – this may not *dazzle* your guests per se, but it’s cheaper and better for the environment so we kept it on the list. 

6. Light a fragrant candle

Most people (myself included!) underestimate the power of a good smell, and lighting up candles in your house can quickly set a mood as well as make your room more appealing to guests. Candles are a fantastic way to provide your home with seasonally fitting energy, allowing your home to feel comfortable in the winter, lively in the summer, and everything else in between. Just be sure to choose one that’s eco friendly and non-toxic

7. Entertain at home

Say no to the idea that being a ‘good host’ means treating friends and family to a night on the town. A night out is expensive, and loads of people have more fun and can settle in and relax in casual environments. Consider having a cookout or simple dinner at home for maximum fun and minimal cost. 

8. Borrow, don't buy

Forego shopping for fancy new wine glasses, chairs or other accessories for your gathering. Instead, ask your guests or other friends or family if you can borrow theirs. In some cases, these more personal items can create a more inviting feel for your event.

If you’ll need things like air mattresses or extra dining room chairs for your guests, don’t rush out to buy these things new. Reach out to your network to see if anyone would be willing to let you borrow these items. If that doesn’t pan out, check Craigslist, yard sales and thrift stores! 

9. Look for coupons and promotional passes

Start looking now for coupons and special offers for local attractions. The annual Entertainment Book that is often sold as a fundraiser might be one source, but also check out the websites of each attraction you want to visit.

Don’t forget free attractions! A picnic at a local park or a hike through the woods might be right up your guests’ alley. Fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

10. Embrace the potluck

Before adulthood I never really understood how expensive holiday events are for the hosts. (All I cared about was getting to one of the turkey wings before the other guests!) Yet the wide range of food, drinks, and alcohol served at a holiday party is enough to make any hosting family burst their monthly budget.

Don’t hesitate to ask guests to bring their own dish or cocktail to spread out the cost of the event. It will take some of the money and preparation stress away from you, and most people love to feel like they’re helping! 

“From our family to yours – may your holidays be merry, bright and mindful of your waste.” It may not sound great on a greeting card, but your wallet will thank us later!

Katie Overmonds

Katie is an award-winning journalist and digital strategist with more than 10 years of experience in print and digital media and a passion for the environment and fighting climate change.

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