(CNN) — Mingle, schmingle — don’t be afraid to make new friends at holiday parties.
That’s the message from three top event planners for The Daily Meal . Rachael Abramyan , Carrie Tschirgi and Julie Woodruff, three women from the country’s best-known food event company, offer some advice for throwing an event you can afford, and that is sure to be memorable.
Here are their tips for planning a Thanksgiving or holiday party for every one of your guests:
Be on the ball
“There are so many more opportunities now to throw something unique,” says Abramyan. “You don’t have to rent out the theater, or set up your own station.”
So take advantage of the plethora of virtual possibilities to design a party that shows your guests that you care about them, says Abramyan.
Hire game consoles to have them watch holiday videos on one big screen, add touch surfaces so that guests can pick up cards on the touch screen, and DIY a game of charades.
Why not set up these types of games in a room that hosts between 80 and 90 guests, and leave the rest open for mingling?
A digital selection for 20 TVs in a 30-foot open space will save money and (we presume) time.
Make it a collaborative effort
No one likes having to do an all-inclusive reservation, says Tschirgi. And the last thing you want to do is show up to an event only half-cooked.
“You should also prepare the food so it will last,” says Tschirgi. “Check out your food distributors beforehand — that will make your time far more productive.”
Have a method of transportation, in case you have to take off your cocktail party dress and coat at the last minute.
Ditto for fire escapes.
If you use your neighbor’s, make sure they know they are not to open their front door during the party.
Target guests with common interests
“If you want the party to be more than one-way, or more than informational, talk to people about common interests, not just what they do for a living,” says Woodruff.
The idea is to get people talking and having a good time.
Your event can be functional as well as attractive. For example, perhaps you have a crackling fire in the fireplace or a portable Bluetooth speaker.
Woodruff suggests featuring food that supports local farms and small businesses. “Keep it informal,” Woodruff says. “Most people won’t go and scout farms in their area if it’s tacky.”