This article appears in Holiday Cookbook 2017.

Where to spend and where to save can make a party planner’s head spin. Hosting a great party on a budget takes time and energy — and some good advice.

Here are some words of wisdom from Nora McCoy, owner of Party Planners Plus in Hilliard, Ohio.

Splurge

“If planning a holiday party in your home try not to skimp on the menu. Allow plenty of time to prep or sit with a caterer to go over (and taste) what you will be feeding your guests. If just having appetizers, make sure they are on the heavy side and plenty of each, about three to six appetizers” per person, McCoy said.

No matter how beautiful your decorations or what people are wearing, “one thing I always hear when guests are mingling is about the food.” she said.

Save

“Skimp on decorating, I know this sounds bad, but instead of buying a bunch of things you might already have, use the decorations sitting in your attic or basement that you use every holiday. Adding some adornments and setting out candles can turn any party into a beautiful affair,” McCoy said.

Plan

Guests like to feel appreciated. “I always tell my clients to think about what they want their guests to feel while they are there and then plan it that way. If it’s a dinner party for 10 or a holiday open house, make some small gift for them to take home,” McCoy said. For example, put several cookies in a pretty little package with a “We are happy you came” note.