5 Tips for Classy Frugal Holiday Fun

  • Display Food and Beverages with Flair You don't need caviar and champagne to impress. Simple and inexpensive ingredients -- such as raw vegetables -- can make a big impact."It's all in the presentation," says Andrea Correale, CEO of Elegant Affairs, a caterer based in New York City's Gramercy Park and Glen Cove, N.Y.Veggies with dip on a big platter? Ordinary and boring, says Correale, whose clients include the historic club The Players in Gramercy Park and the mansion that houses the Nassau County Museum of Art in Long Island.But take those same ingredients and place them in individual glass votive candle holders that people can pick up and carry while mingling "and you've got something special," she says."It's the little details that make it look trendy and appealing," Correale says.No need to break out the filet mignon if you want to serve more substantial food; cheaper cuts of meat can be presented with flair. For example, you can braise beef in a casserole and serve it in sourdough bread bowls, she says."Whatever you serve, kick it up a notch," she says.
  • Forget the Big Meal

    Potlucks or simple buffets are certainly less expensive than sit-down, seven-course dinners. Pare it down even further by hosting a brunch, dessert or cocktail party.

    For a cocktail party, offer a holiday punch or signature drink to control the costs of buying different types of liquor. Browse the Web for interesting holiday drink ideas -- such as candy cane martinis, Correale says.

    If a New Year's Eve party calls for champagne, opt for a champagne cocktail instead, says Allison Julius, co-owner of Maison 24, a home decor and accessories retailer based in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Put a few fresh pomegranate seeds in a champagne flute followed by pomegranate juice. Then, fill with champagne.

    "The red-tinted drinks look festive and will stretch out the number of servings you get from each bottle of champagne," Julius says.

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