Throw a holiday party on a budget

ARDMORE, Pa. - December 18, 2009

"If you're on a tight budget, it's OK, we find ways to stretch the money and still not give up the joy."

Hunt says that even with the tight economy, gracious holiday entertaining is still possible.

Her first tip: skip the expensive sit-down dinner.

"A great idea is have an appetizer party," she suggests. "You don't have to do a full dinner. Then ask people to contribute. You know, most people who come are going to ask, 'Can I bring something?' This year, say, 'Yes, I would love that.' "

She says you can give guests holiday recipe cards with ideas -- or ask them to bring dishes that reflect their own family's traditions.

And she says you don't have to spend a lot on décor.

"Concentrate on three things: the front door, the dinner table, and the mantle, if you have one." She adds, "Decorate those three pieces and if that's all you have, your home will be stunning."

She showed me centerpieces made from things found in the pantry and back yard, like cranberries, tree branches, and pine cones and nuts that she spray-painted gold and silver.

Finally, when it comes to drinks, Hunt says, "My tip is to look for what is on sale."

All this month, Wine and Spirit stores in Pennsylvania have Jack Daniels whiskey and Captain Morgan's spiced rum on sale. Mary says they're good for egg nog and hot drinks.

And she says you shouldn't be scared of buying wines that are on sale as well.

"Let me tell you a little secret, even the biggest wine snobs, they ususally don't know once the label's gone. Get out a great decanter, pour the wine into a decanter, and you remove all that worry about am I pouring the right thing? If you enjoy it, your guests are going to enjoy it too."

To get more money-saving ideas from Mary Hunt, check out her website, Debt-Proof Living.

And to find out what's on sale at Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit stores this month, click here and then click on "Monthly Specials."

Among the deals this month:
Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Label Whiskey -- $36.99 in December (savings of $6.00)
Captain Morgan Spiced Rum -- $24.99 through December (savings of $4.00)
Bailey's Irish Cream -- $18.99 through December (savings of $4.00)
Woodbridge Mondavi Cabernet -- $9.99 through December (savings of $4.00)
Bolla Pinot Grigio -- $10.99 through December (savings of $4.00)

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