It’s nearly holiday season and excitement is in the air; we love this special time of exchanging gifts and seeing our closest family and friends. But fueling this enthusiasm sometimes means setting aside money to cover those airplane tickets and packages — big and small — that may not be a regular part of our budget. No matter how well we’ve prepared, there are always unexpected expenses that can put a damper on our spirits (and wallets) at a time when we should be celebrating.

Holiday parties are one of the biggest sources of hidden costs. Whether we’re throwing a party or planning to enjoy the night as a guest, we often don’t plan for additional festivity expenses. But that doesn’t mean we should nix parties altogether. We just need to party smarter! Check out the following tips to keep your finances shining as bright as your holiday lights this season.

Group of friends at rooftop party

Tips for the Hostess

As the hostess, you need to stock up on food, fixings for that special holiday cocktail, and some seriously festive decor. These extras can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly budget if you get too carried away.

1. Take the pressure off! Rather than footing the bill yourself or defaulting to a potluck, consider a social payment app like Tilt to spread costs across the group. Encourage everyone to chip in so the night goes off without a hitch. After all, sharing is caring!

2. Create a theme. Alternatively, share a theme for the evening with your guests — such as red wines from France — and ask everyone to bring a bottle in a certain price range. Bonus: Everyone will have a blast comparing their finds.

3. It’s okay to keep it simple. When it comes to holiday decor, a great playlist and a few candles can transform the evening. If grandma’s crystal isn’t available, don’t buy (then throw away) countless disposable cups. Instead, consider buying a box of low-cost wine glasses that you can reuse in the future. Target and Pier 1 are great resources and their prices aren’t too far off from what you’d otherwise spend. Real glasses will look way classier than those red Solo cups anyway.

4. It’s all about a good time. Here’s the bottom line: Your friends and family will appreciate your invitation no matter what. In the end, it’s all about good conversation — not what pattern of cocktail napkin your cheese puffs are served on.

Tips for the Guest

You’re the lucky one — you don’t have to cook and clean to get ready for a night out. As long as you don’t forget the wine, you should be all set, right? Not always.

5. Forget the liquid splurge. You’d like to honor your host with a nice bottle of wine, but don’t stretch your budget too far in an effort to over impress. Look for a label with meaning or a humorous picture to commemorate the evening, and resist the urge to grab the priciest bottle. You can also go for craft cider or beer with seasonal spices. They feel just as special and show some extra thought without being as taxing on your wallet.

6. Look your best, with a smile. When it’s time to plan your holiday wardrobe, the dozens of catalogs on your doorstep and festive window displays might have you thinking about shopping for something new. But after gifts for your mom, dad, siblings, co-workers, boo and more, a new outfit might not fit your budget. Do a little digging at less expensive stores to snag a less expensive imitation of your favorite high-fashion finds. And don’t forget: A smile is one of the best things you can wear, and it looks good on everyone!

What are your holiday money saving tips? Share them with us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)