Best Cheap Snacks for Holiday Parties

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, tis the season for office holiday parties and neighborhood potlucks. While it’s a lot of fun to let loose with friends and co-workers, contributing a dish or snack to each and every holiday party can quickly become expensive.

Don’t break the bank by trying to get too fancy with your party snack or appetizer, but don’t be a scrooge, either. Make one of these inexpensive, delicious and easy snacks instead. These ten cheap holiday party snacks will wow the crowd while going easy on your wallet.

Eggnog Dip

Dips are always a crowd pleaser, but this one will knock your guests’ socks off. Mix 8 ounces of cream cheese, ½ cup of eggnog, spices, and powdered sugar to make this holiday drink-flavored party dip. Center your eggnog dip on a platter surrounded by gingersnaps, graham crackers, vanilla wafers and hazelnut cookie straws.

Eggnog Dip Source:

This recipe, with dipping cookies included, will cost you about $10. You can find the whole recipe for eggnog dip at the Wine and Glue blog.

Christmas Tree Cheeseboard

Cheese and grapes make a great appetizer for any party. Wow your guests with an easy and festive party tray by using cheese, grapes and a rosemary garnish to build a “Christmas tree.”

Christmas Tree Cheese PlateSource:

For this recipe, you will need two bunches of grapes, three different types of cheese cubes, one bunch of rosemary to garnish and one stalk of celery to make the trunk of the tree.

Wash the grapes and separate the fruit into smaller bunches. Cut the different cheeses into cubes. On a tray or cutting board, build your “Christmas tree” by laying out cheese, grapes, and sprigs of rosemary in a pattern until you form the shape of the Christmas tree. Use the stalk of celery to form the base of the tree, and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut a piece of cheese for the tree star.

Depending on the quality of cheese you decide to buy, this Christmas tree cheese tray should cost less than $15. You can find directions for this festive cheeseboard on

One-Bite Tacos

Everyone loves tacos, but they can be too messy for appetizer-centered parties. Luckily, you can make one-bite tacos, which are easy to handle and delicious.

One-bite TacosSource:

For this recipe, fill a serving tray with bowl-shaped tortilla chips. Line the bottom of the chips with shredded lettuce, fill the center with a spoonful of ground meat cooked with taco seasoning, and top with sour cream or cheddar cheese.

One bag of chips and one pound of meat will stretch into at least two trays of these bite-sized party pleasers. Since so little will go so far, you won’t have to spend more than $10 for your contribution to the party snack table. Check out this recipe for bite-sized tacos on the Tostitos website.

Bacon-wrapped Water Chestnuts

You might think you don’t like water chestnuts, but have you tried them wrapped in bacon? Bacon-wrapped foods always make a tasty addition to any holiday party. For this recipe you’ll only need one package of bacon, one can of drained water chestnuts, some soy sauce, brown sugar and one pack of toothpicks.

Bacon-wrapped Water ChestnutsSource: “Delicious as it Looks” on

Marinate the water chestnuts in soy sauce, drain, and then toss them in brown sugar. Cut each strip of bacon in half, wrap a piece of bacon around each water chestnut, and lay the appetizers in rows on a baking tray. Cook all of the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the bacon is crispy and cooked through. Stick a toothpick into each one for a tray of easy to serve appetizers.

Your guests will think you spent a pretty penny to make this delicious appetizer, but one pound of water chestnuts and one pound of bacon will only cost about $10. Find this bacon wrapped water chestnut recipe at

Mini Cheese Popovers

Bite-sized, warm, and tasty, mini cheese popovers are simple and inexpensive to make as a party appetizer. The base of the recipe is milk, egg, salt and flour, but you can customize it however you like by adding diced vegetables or chopped bacon pieces. Add your batter to a mini muffin pan, top your creations with cheddar cheese and bake until golden brown.

Cheese PopoversSource:

These quiche-inspired party snacks cost just cents per popover. Find the recipe at

Simple Crostini

Crostini is a cheap and versatile party pleaser. Simply slice your favorite baguette into thin slices, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake the crostini until they are golden brown and crunchy, and serve on a platter with your favorite dip or topping. Crostini goes well with diced tomatoes, basil, and parmesan for a bruschetta-inspired appetizer. You could also serve the crostini with a crab or artichoke dip.


Find the simple crostini recipe at

Holiday Pretzel Hugs

These sweet treats are simple, charming and fun to make. Using square pretzels, simply soften Hershey’s Hug drops onto the individual pretzels and then push an M&M onto each one. These treats take less than 20 minutes to make and cost roughly $6-$10, depending on the size of the bag of candy you buy.

Holiday Pretzel HugsSource:

Find the recipe on

Pigs in a blanket “Wreath”

Who doesn’t love pigs in a blanket? Using mini-hotdogs or finger sausages and crescent roll dough, shape your pigs in a blanket into a circle to form a wreath. Decorate with a red pepper “bow” and serve with a side of mustard or ketchup.

Mini Crescent Dog WreathSource:

These wreaths cost about $5 to make and only take about 25 minutes, including prep time. Find the recipe at

Santa Hat Brownie Bites

Using a mini muffin pan, simply bake your favorite brownie recipe into bite size treats. Give each brownie a layer of white frosting, and then top each brownie bite with a strawberry. Add a dollop of white frosting onto the tip of the strawberry to the Santa hat a traditional white “puff ball.”

Santa Hat Brownie BitesSource:

These treats are festive and fun. Even though strawberries are out of season for holiday parties, this recipe should still cost you less than $10 to make two dozen Santa hat mini brownies.

Find a Santa hat brownie recipe at

Jalapeño Poppers

Make a platter of ridiculously easy and tasty jalapeño poppers by using only three ingredients. All you need is vegetable cream cheese, eight jalapenos and a package of crescent roll dough. Slice and pit the jalapeños and slice the dough triangles in half. Fill the jalapeño halves with cream cheese, wrap with the crescent triangle, and bake until golden brown. One recipe makes 16 jalapeño poppers.

Jalapeno PoppersSource:

Find the recipe at

Enjoy Your Cheap Treats!

Don’t feel pressured to spend more than you can afford simply because you were invited to a party. Attending holiday parties and potlucks doesn’t need to break the bank, and these cheap recipes are proof that you can make something that is festive and affordable.

If you’re still worried about spending too much on food or gifts, try our holiday budget calculator, which will help give you a budget based on your income, from which you can budget for your holiday parties and meals. Once you use the budget calculator for the first time, you will receive a budget ID so that you can access your personalized budget at any time as a returning user.

Kristi Muse is a family finance writer who loves talking about strategies to save money, get out of debt, and live a frugal life. She shares her experiences about debt, parenthood, and life as a law-enforcement family on her blog Moderate Muse. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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