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10 Spots to Host Holiday Parties on a Shoestring

Here's where to plan a fete without breaking the bank

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Like most things in San Francisco, hosting a holiday party isn't cheap. The month of December is prime time for restaurants, bars, and event venues to make some money before the tediously slow months ahead by hosting swanky soirees. However, unless you're a tech giant or a Rockefeller, that can be more difficult than you think. Before you resort to renting out a room in your local church basement, check out this list of ten places that are reasonable enough to get your boogie on under budget.

Requirements for making it onto the list included: feeding people for $30 per person and under, no or low booking fees, and flexibility to meet a variety of group's needs. If you plan ahead and are prepared to negotiate a little, you can book out one of these spots for your next event and toast to money well spent. Now round up your book clubs, chess teams, mom groups, or whatever you're into, and get to partying. — Renee Lynn Frojo

Have another great low-cost option for holiday party planning? Drop it in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Dear Mom

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2700 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 624-9845
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Dear Mom might just be the most flexible spot to host a gathering on the cheap. As long as you have a party of a least 20, there are few, if any, restrictions. There are no food and beverage minimums and no booking fees. The bar is happy to work with parties to throw a casual shindig or elaborate party complete with a menu that includes bites like crostini with marinated mozzarella, chili-lime wings and homemade breadsticks wrapped in salami starting at $5 per person. Capacity: 220 standing Rental fee: None Minimum: None

2. SoMa StrEat Food Park

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428 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
With a variety of rotating food trucks to choose from, SOMA StreatFood Park might be one of the best, budget-friendly options to host picky eaters for the holidays. The park lets you reserve up to 50 seats at no charge. Alternatively, you can book the Bus — a converted school bus that’s heated and can hold up to 70 people — for an hour at $75 or $255 for up to four hours. They’ll let you decorate it however you want, to boot. Capacity: 50 seated Rental fee: None to $255 Minimum: None

3. Royal Exchange

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301 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 956-1710
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One of the most popular spots to watch sports in the FiDi also might be one of the cheapest to host a group in the neighborhood. To reserve a spot, Royal Exchange only charges a $25 per person minimum that all goes toward food and drinks. Food can be customized for groups over 100 people, but anything smaller must choose from pre-ordered apps on the bar’s menu (think pretzel knots and sliders). On the weekends guests can do private buy outs to rent the entire space for $6,000, all of which can be used toward food and drinks. Capacity: 200 seated, 250 standing Rental fee: None Minimum: $25 per person

4. The Liberties Bar

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998 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 282-6789
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Liberties has wide variety of private booking options. The best deal for those on a budget is the back room, where you can host a group of 20 people or more with nibbles from the restaurant's party menu. Passed appetizers start at $22 a head, and include dishes like lamb sliders and bacon croquettes. To keep it even more affordable, you can request a no-hosted bar. Capacity: 35 standing, 20 seated Retal fee: $350 Minimum: $750 for drinks

5. Marla Bakery

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3619 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 742-4379
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Brunch holiday party, anyone? Marla Bakery might be the spot. The restaurant books out its quaint garden patio for private events with a sweet deal on the weekdays starting at $15 per person for a menu that includes house made bagels with cured trout, herbed cheese and pickled vegetables, as well as scones, pan au chocolate and the beloved Marla Bun. Lunch starts at $25, while dinner can be done for $30 per person. Capacity: 20 seated, 40 standing Rental fee: $250 during the week, $350 on the weekend Minimum: None

6. Fiorella

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2339 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 340-3049
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In September, Fiorella unveiled a new stylish (and heated) garden patio. The restaurant is now offering up the space as a private dining area for people looking to host a fun, family-style feast at $30 per person of antipasti, pizza from their wood-fired oven, pasta and other classic mains. An additional $27 per person will get you a beverage package that includes juices, wines and some bubbly for a couple of hours. Capacity: 30 seated, 40 standing Rental fee: None Minimum: $1,500

7. Bar San Pancho

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3198 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 649-6077
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From the people who brought you Tacolicious, Bar San Pancho is a fun, casual gathering place with a foosball table and flat screen that will be showing Miracle on 24th Street all December long. If you fill the space, you can get away with meeting the minimum on food and drinks at $22 per person. Alternatively, you pay a $250 room charge and order what you want from a menu of crispy tacos, hot wings and tortas. Capacity: 35 standing Rental fee: $250 OR meet the minimum Minimum: $800

8. Uno Dos Tacos

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595 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 974-6922
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Few things says fiesta like a taco. Uno Dos Tacos is happy to host a holiday party for 10 to 60 people at one or all of its community tables. Starting at $20 per person, the restaurant will serve tacos or a family-style spread with beer and margaritas by the bucket or pitcher. Capacity: 60 seated Rental fee: None Minimum: $20 per person

9. Uva Enoteca

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568 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 829-2024
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For a party of 20 to 30 people, you can book the private dining room at Uva Vinoteca with a prix-fixe food menu starting at $30 per person and $25 for unlimited drinks. Minimums vary depending on the day of the week and start at $1,200 for the weekday and up to $1,400 for the weekend. Expect salumi boards, wild boar lasagna and smoked mozzarella pizza. Capacity: 30 seated Rental fee: None Minimum: $1,200 to $1,400

10. Zeitgeist

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199 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-7505
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With over 40 beers on tap, a BBQ grill and a full kitchen serving up food all day long, Zeitgeist is a great spot to cheers to the holidays. The only catch: they don’t take reservations. Big groups are welcomed, but the staff encourages interested parties to arrive at least half an hour before their event to scope out seating. Capacity: As many as you can save a table for Retal fee: None Minimum: None

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1. Dear Mom

2700 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Dear Mom might just be the most flexible spot to host a gathering on the cheap. As long as you have a party of a least 20, there are few, if any, restrictions. There are no food and beverage minimums and no booking fees. The bar is happy to work with parties to throw a casual shindig or elaborate party complete with a menu that includes bites like crostini with marinated mozzarella, chili-lime wings and homemade breadsticks wrapped in salami starting at $5 per person. Capacity: 220 standing Rental fee: None Minimum: None
2700 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

2. SoMa StrEat Food Park

428 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
With a variety of rotating food trucks to choose from, SOMA StreatFood Park might be one of the best, budget-friendly options to host picky eaters for the holidays. The park lets you reserve up to 50 seats at no charge. Alternatively, you can book the Bus — a converted school bus that’s heated and can hold up to 70 people — for an hour at $75 or $255 for up to four hours. They’ll let you decorate it however you want, to boot. Capacity: 50 seated Rental fee: None to $255 Minimum: None
428 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

3. Royal Exchange

301 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94111
One of the most popular spots to watch sports in the FiDi also might be one of the cheapest to host a group in the neighborhood. To reserve a spot, Royal Exchange only charges a $25 per person minimum that all goes toward food and drinks. Food can be customized for groups over 100 people, but anything smaller must choose from pre-ordered apps on the bar’s menu (think pretzel knots and sliders). On the weekends guests can do private buy outs to rent the entire space for $6,000, all of which can be used toward food and drinks. Capacity: 200 seated, 250 standing Rental fee: None Minimum: $25 per person
301 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111

4. The Liberties Bar

998 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Liberties has wide variety of private booking options. The best deal for those on a budget is the back room, where you can host a group of 20 people or more with nibbles from the restaurant's party menu. Passed appetizers start at $22 a head, and include dishes like lamb sliders and bacon croquettes. To keep it even more affordable, you can request a no-hosted bar. Capacity: 35 standing, 20 seated Retal fee: $350 Minimum: $750 for drinks
998 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110

5. Marla Bakery

3619 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121
Brunch holiday party, anyone? Marla Bakery might be the spot. The restaurant books out its quaint garden patio for private events with a sweet deal on the weekdays starting at $15 per person for a menu that includes house made bagels with cured trout, herbed cheese and pickled vegetables, as well as scones, pan au chocolate and the beloved Marla Bun. Lunch starts at $25, while dinner can be done for $30 per person. Capacity: 20 seated, 40 standing Rental fee: $250 during the week, $350 on the weekend Minimum: None
3619 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121

6. Fiorella

2339 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121
In September, Fiorella unveiled a new stylish (and heated) garden patio. The restaurant is now offering up the space as a private dining area for people looking to host a fun, family-style feast at $30 per person of antipasti, pizza from their wood-fired oven, pasta and other classic mains. An additional $27 per person will get you a beverage package that includes juices, wines and some bubbly for a couple of hours. Capacity: 30 seated, 40 standing Rental fee: None Minimum: $1,500
2339 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121

7. Bar San Pancho

3198 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
From the people who brought you Tacolicious, Bar San Pancho is a fun, casual gathering place with a foosball table and flat screen that will be showing Miracle on 24th Street all December long. If you fill the space, you can get away with meeting the minimum on food and drinks at $22 per person. Alternatively, you pay a $250 room charge and order what you want from a menu of crispy tacos, hot wings and tortas. Capacity: 35 standing Rental fee: $250 OR meet the minimum Minimum: $800
3198 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

8. Uno Dos Tacos

595 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94104
Few things says fiesta like a taco. Uno Dos Tacos is happy to host a holiday party for 10 to 60 people at one or all of its community tables. Starting at $20 per person, the restaurant will serve tacos or a family-style spread with beer and margaritas by the bucket or pitcher. Capacity: 60 seated Rental fee: None Minimum: $20 per person
595 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94104

9. Uva Enoteca

568 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
For a party of 20 to 30 people, you can book the private dining room at Uva Vinoteca with a prix-fixe food menu starting at $30 per person and $25 for unlimited drinks. Minimums vary depending on the day of the week and start at $1,200 for the weekday and up to $1,400 for the weekend. Expect salumi boards, wild boar lasagna and smoked mozzarella pizza. Capacity: 30 seated Rental fee: None Minimum: $1,200 to $1,400
568 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

10. Zeitgeist

199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103
With over 40 beers on tap, a BBQ grill and a full kitchen serving up food all day long, Zeitgeist is a great spot to cheers to the holidays. The only catch: they don’t take reservations. Big groups are welcomed, but the staff encourages interested parties to arrive at least half an hour before their event to scope out seating. Capacity: As many as you can save a table for Retal fee: None Minimum: None
199 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103

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