Think throwing a great party means spending a fortune? These seven secrets to throwing a fabulous party on a budget will save you time, money, & sanity!
1. Pick a theme
Every fabulous party needs an original theme. This is KEY. Before you spend a single penny on party supplies, be sure that you have picked a central theme that will keep you focused and on track. A theme helps you set the tone for the party and focus your planning efforts. It also helps keep the budget under control, because you can spend less and yet have a bigger impact when your expenses are all centered around the same main idea. Magazines and Pinterest are full of inspiration and the instant you stumble upon a theme you love, we can assure you that the creative ideas will start rolling in.
2. Make your guests the focus
The details do matter, but not necessarily the details you might think. Pinterest-worthy decorations and a stunning dessert display won’t save a party if the guests aren’t having fun. Good hospitality—personally welcoming each guest, introducing them to other guests, and helping them mingle—is absolutely free. If your group is naturally quite social and outgoing, or if everyone already knows each other, you may not need to worry about this, but you should still be prepared just in case things start to go awry. Many people are, by nature, shy and uncomfortable in social settings, particularly if there are a lot of people they don’t know.
Icebreaker games, while perhaps silly, can get things off to a light-hearted start. There are usually a few ultra-competitors in every crowd, so offering a little friendly competition can help liven things up as well. And be sure to offer prizes! They don’t have to be elaborate or expensive, just a little something to get things rolling.
No matter what, always be sure to provide enough food and drink! If you can’t afford both food and decorations, opt for food, because hungry guests will not have fun. Even if the party is not at mealtime, provide at least a few substantial snacks & munchies just in case.
3. Entertain the kiddos
Kids don’t need much–most of the time they just want to play–but make sure there are a few “kid zones” within your party environment to keep the youngest attendees occupied. After all, happy children = happy parents! Set up a table with coloring pages or simple crafts—Wrapping the whole table with brown kraft paper & then letting them loose is a great and simple idea—or have one room available for play, and another quiet room available for resting or watching a movie. Be sure to also have some kid-friendly food & drinks on hand.
4. Let your guests pitch in
No one wants to show up to a party empty-handed, and regardless of what you tell them, your guests will always want to bring something. Put that thoughtful party etiquette to use by asking each invitee to bring something that will help you keep your own expenses down, such as an appetizer, dessert, or bottle of wine to share. They won’t mind a bit; on the contrary, they will probably appreciate for once knowing what to bring. Even better, it will prevent you from getting stuck with 20 unnecessary but generous hostess gifts.
5. Splurge on the unexpected
Determine your party budget, save in every way you can, and then, with the money you’ve saved–and you actually might surprise yourself once you truly start to get creative–use your extra cash to surprise your guests with something unique.
6. Send Invitations via email
Unless your next party is a very formal affair, skip the overpriced paper invites in favor of the email variety. Design your own at home on a word processor, or by using a free online graphic editor such a PicMonkey or Canva. Most of us have heard of Evite for email invitations, but there are also a few other really neat & more unique options including Paperless Post, Punchbowl, Celebrations, and Green Envelope. Not only will you save on paper and postage, but managing your guest list will be a breeze.
7. Get crafty
With inspiration teeming from Pinterest, television, magazines, and the blogosphere, there is honestly no excuse for not joining the DiY revolution. You don’t even have to be exceptionally original or creative; you just have to follow the simple instructions.
Your party budget dollars will stretch much further—and make a bigger impact—if you forgo commercial decorations in favor of ones that are handmade. Likewise, homemade food and desserts, are both cheaper and usually better-tasting than their store-bought counterparts. Even more importantly, handmade decorations and home-cooked food will make your guests feel like they are part of something special and one-of-a-kind.
You can find a number of detailed tutorials for making a variety of basic party decorations on Youtube or Pinterest, everything from tissue paper puffs, paper party hats, & buntings to simple instructions for sewing your own table runners & simple chair covers. All of these can be made for just a few dollars in supplies and very little effort.
At the end of the day, a truly memorable party does not come down to how much you spent, but how your guests feel.
In all honesty, no one will remember your adorable, overpriced napkins, expensive centerpieces, or even all your Pinterest-worthy DIY projects. On the other hand, if your guests felt comfortable and had a great time, it won’t matter if you spent $10 or $1000.
Written by: Ruth Soukup
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