Remember when your friends used to have Christmas parties and all you had to do was bring a box of Franzia or a 30-rack of Busch Lite? Well friend, those days are over. You can now feel the cold stares for bringing cheap alcohol to the party and the average age of attendees has dropped significantly thanks to the army of children in attendance. Why didn't you bring a $40 cheese plate like everyone else? A panic attack ensues. All you want is a beer, but you had to bring fancy bottles that need a bottle opener. Calm down. Breathe. Let us help you prepare to win this party, because winning parties is what you do. Also, pick up a wallet bottle opener. You should always be prepared.
Step 1: Oh-My-God-Where-Did-All-Of-These-Kids-Come-From? Chill. You may be the only single friend left in your group, but you've got this. You want to win this holiday party like a boss on a budget? Drop by a hobby store like Joann’s Fabrics and pick up a handful of pre-made craft kits before you hit up Thrifty Liquor. For $1.00 you can pick up a kit to customize a Christmas ornament. Don't forget to check Ibotta or use a coupon for some additional savings. You probably don't know this, but JoAnne's hands out 50% off coupons like candy.
Give these ornaments out to the demon spawn when you arrive. Not only are you now the new favorite adopted uncle/aunt, but those monsters will be occupied for at least 45 minutes. Pro - their parents will have a great Christmas ornament to take home. Con - the host is going to hate you for the damage that is done during "crafting time". Another Con - you may be recruited to help paint. Premium Pro - You brought painting booze.
Step 2: Do not pay more than $7 for an ugly Christmas sweater. Once upon a time, Ugly Christmas sweaters were actually old Christmas sweaters that had been aged over millennia and filled with holiday cheer. Today, dozens of hipster stores have popped up selling mass produced "ugly Christmas sweaters" that come with a premium price tag. Don't buy those. Go to GoodWill and pick out a $5 sweater that has that lived in Christmas sweater smell or you make your own. Nothing says ugly like I made this myself for $7. If you want to be extra thrifty and gain the ire of your host, bring an old sweater and let the kids decorate it for you with their ornament paint. You'll get a custom piece with a story!
Step 3: Fancy up your party beverage. No one likes a cheap bottle of wine. While Target may sell $5 wine, that does not mean you will make any friends bringing it to the party. But if you throw $3 worth of fruity things into that fermented grape juice you have yourself an award winning cranberry apple sangria. For $16 you can double your recipe, bring a great drink to the party, and spend about as much as you would on that 30-rack. If you're feeling extra adventurous add a sour apple Four Loko to the mix. Just because your friends have kids doesn't mean they can't have fun.
Step 4: Call an Uber if you need it. Use your Uber card. Yeah. You're an adult. You earn points when you spend money now.
Catching up with friends during the holidays is one of the best times of the year. Don't let it break the bank. Spend smart.