Hosting a party on a budget can be a challenging endeavor. On the other hand, if you’re like me, the thought of spending hundreds on food, balloons, and streamers only to set them up and toss them all out a few hours later can be much more overwhelming.
Additionally, while it’s no secret that hosting a party can lead to a long receipt and an empty wallet, your relationship with friends and family is priceless. So, despite the stress, hosting a party can be the perfect way to bring all of your loved ones together. And in the modern world, where in-person interactions are becoming fewer and further between, hosting a party is one of the best ways to reconnect with your loved ones.
But therein lies the question, how do you host a party on a budget?
Well, these days, there is an abundance of opportunities to help you do just that. And, lucky for you, I’m going to spill seven of my most useful party-planning secrets that you can use to pinch some pennies without sacrificing any fun at your next bash.
Let’s dive in!
1. Create An Actual Party Budget
The commonly-felt host obligation is to give your guests the party of the century, with the best food, gorgeous decorations, killer entertainment, and a perfect venue. But, that belief is super unrealistic. Not to mention, most of the time, party-goers don’t even care how much money the host spent on the festivities—they’re merely there to have a good time.
So, first things first: in order to be smart with your money, especially when hosting a party, set a clearly-defined budget. After all, it’s pretty hard to host a party on a budget if you don’t actually have a budget. Am I right?
In fact, not only do we recommend creating a budget, but we also suggest moving the actual cash you plan to spend into a bank account you have specifically designated as a party fund. Or, if you really want to step up your game, limit using cash only and keep all your party money in an envelope. That way, when the bills are gone, you know that you’ve hit your max amount.
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2. Save Ahead Of Time
One of the first steps in hosting a party on a budget is to save money ahead of time.
When you have a month or two to put aside some cash, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can reach your goal. And, it’s much easier to splurge on a party in stages rather than all at once.
When you’re short on cash, you have to turn to your other resources; one of the most useful is your time. Though it might take a few months of prepping, saving over time will allow you to avoid the stress of any reckless splurging—or worse, realizing that you don’t have enough cash to host a party how you’d like to. When you plan and save ahead of time, you give yourself an advantage.
As a bonus, the more time you give yourself to save for a party, the more time you will have to compare prices on everything you need. Giving yourself extra time can be particularly beneficial because it allows you to ease the financial burden by breaking your shopping list into multiple outings. That way, you can get everything you need, while also avoiding one big blow to your checking account.
3. Shop Savvy For Supplies
When hosting a party on a budget, choosing where to shop for supplies is one of the most important decisions you can make.
For example, rather than shopping at the specialty party stores, make a pit-stop at the dollar store before all else. But, be careful—even the dollar store can clean you out of house and home if you’re not attentive. Make yourself a list of only the items you need and get out while you’re ahead.
Also, make sure to log your expenses into your party budget and commit to calling it quits when you hit your limit. Doing this will force you to prioritize your shopping list and purchase the most essential items first.
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4. Pick A Theme
Believe it or not, if you want to host a party on a budget, deciding on a theme can be your lifesaver—in terms of both stress and cash. Not to mention that sticking to a theme can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole thing!
Even if your theme is something as simple as one or two colors, giving yourself a sense of direction is an incredibly helpful step in the party-planning process. Not only will it make your life easier when searching for supplies, but it will keep you from spending money on items that you won’t even end up using.’
An extra tip is to use supplies that you already have at home to determine your theme. For instance, if you have leftover cocktail umbrellas, then you could opt for a tropical theme. If you have a bunch of beer in your fridge, then you could go with a Beer Fest theme. Before heading off to any specialty stores (or the liquor store), rummage through your decoration bins and shop in your house first.
Oh, and if you really want to keep your party decoration expenses to a minimum, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family if they have items you can borrow!
5. Send E-Vites
In this day and age, sending paper invitations for gatherings has become slightly uncommon. Not to mention expensive. You can save plenty of money by skipping the stationery section at the store and instead spend some time at your computer.
E-mail invitations are extremely beneficial and super easy. There are plenty of websites and apps that even allow you to design your own e-vites, so the good news is that you don’t have to stray from your theme.
For simple get-togethers and smaller parties, you can even get away with shooting invitations out via text message or phone call. Modern-day party hosting is literally in the palm of your hand.
6. DIY as Much as Possible
If technological invitations aren’t really your thing, put your DIY hat on and fashion your own invitations.
In fact, with a little bit of creativity and elbow grease (and some time scrolling through Pinterest), you can throw an entire party using DIY-only food and supplies. While it may take some dedication, you can create just about everything you need for a fraction of the cost you would otherwise spend at a party store.
DIY your decorations, activities, and everything in-between. And especially make your own food and desserts—it’s a fraction of the price of catering.
7. Let Your Guests Pitch In
If you’re unaccustomed to letting your guests bring the dessert, trust me, you’re not alone. But once you realized how many people are willing to help out, you may never go back.
In addition to how much it will save you in the long run, you’ll thoroughly appreciate having your friends and family pitch in on the party planning. Plus, in many cases, involving other people in the planning and preparation of a party will result in a lot more excitement and better attendance.
But how do you go about letting your guests pitch in for a party?
It’s simple. Let your guests know on the invitation what to bring–just make sure to keep it small and reasonable. Asking your guests to bring a turkey to your Thanksgiving party probably won’t go over very well. But things like a bottle of wine, a plate of cookies, or a bag of ice shouldn’t raise any issues.
As the host, it’s only customary to take care of the basics; don’t expect your friends to check every box. But do keep in mind that most people love to lend a hand (ahem, I said “most”). If you find that you wouldn’t mind helping someone out with their party, it’s more than likely that your guests also wouldn’t mind contributing—let them!
If you want to keep things really cheap, consider throwing a potluck–everyone will bring their own meal, all tummies will be full, and your bank account won’t have to suffer the consequences of all the fun.
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Bonus Tip: Have a Make-Your-Own Food Bar
If you’ve ever fed a group of more than ten people, you know how pricey it can be.
And for those situations, a make-your-own food bar is one of the cheapest ways to feed an entire group of people.
Let your guests make their own pizzas, tacos, baked potatoes, pasta, or absolutely anything easy to build on a budget. Not only is a food bar a fun serving idea, but your guests will also appreciate that they can customize their own meal.
Though it might take a lot more time, a food bar is typically much cheaper than catering, which is why it’s such a great option if you want to throw a party without breaking the bank.
Hosting a party on a budget can be a daunting challenge. But here’s the thing, a great party doesn’t have to depend on fancy silverware, expensive food, or high-end decorations.
In fact, if you’re hoping to host a gathering that won’t break the bank, there are plenty of budget-friendly options. All you need is a bit of time and some creative tips.
Just remember, you’re not planning a party for the Queen of England. Ultimately, with the right blend of food, drinks, people, and some quality tunes, you can host a fantastic party without spending a penny more than your budget allows.