One way to maximize your holiday entertaining budget is to hold a caroling party that doesn’t require lots of food, wine, decorations, gifts and other spending. The trick to holding this type of party is to organize the event well in advance to make sure your tuneful evening is music to everyone’s ears.


Survey your friends to see which night is best for everyone. This can lead to chaos if you ask everyone via email, so check in with a few of the ringleaders to determine the right night for your get together. A weeknight might be your best bet, not only for your party guests, but also for your neighbors, who are more likely to be at home.


Plan your music in advance, taking into account how long you might be caroling, how familiar the songs are and if you’ll need any pre-caroling practice. Send the list to your group in advance so they can check out unfamiliar tunes on YouTube before they come over. Include a mix of old and new, and up-tempo and spiritual tunes.


Have everyone gather at your place for some hot chocolate, cookies and a quick run-through of your songs. Since you won’t want to interrupt your neighbors during the dinner hour, you won’t have to provide much in the way of food at your post-dinner pre-caroling party. Some folks might come straight from work, so have some energy bars, nuts, string cheese, carrot sticks, cheese and crackers, popcorn or yogurt cups.  Find holiday party savings in our circular ads.

Print the lyrics to your songs on individual sheets and use large type to accommodate those who won’t have great lighting while they’re singing in the back row on a poorly lit porch.

Run through the first verse of each song so everyone knows how each tune goes. If you can, make a mix on your iPod and let people sing along with the recorded tunes to start, finishing a cappella. If it won’t be too cold, ask your guitar players to bring one or two to add more to your music. Decide how you’ll line people up at each door you serenade—by height or by loudness!


If you want a guaranteed appreciative audience, contact local senior centers and offer to carol. The grateful activities director will make sure you have a large crowd by scheduling your event at the right time on the right night. The senior center might also provide the refreshments for its residents and your group. Ask the seniors which carols they’d like to hear—this might be an opportunity for the kids and adults in your group to sing holiday music they’ve never heard before.


Walk your route one evening in advance, about the same time you’ll be out with your group when you’re singing. Note the lighting and footing and decide if you’ll need flashlights or lanterns. Remind everyone that several layers of clothing will keep them warmer than just one heavy coat, and that they should bring hats, mittens, scarves and boots with warm socks. Have extra mittens, scarves and caps available for those who don’t come prepared. A flask of alcohol might provide a quick hit of heat to your skin, but it lowers your body temperature and makes you colder. Bring several thermos bottles of hot chocolate, cider or tea and plenty of paper cups.

This article was written by Sam Ashe-Edmunds, contributor for The Daily Clutch.