How to Throw a Party on a Budget

by Frugal Brian


Birthday parties, holiday parties, dinner parties, showers. There always seems to be a reason to throw a party, but hosting a party can get costly. Luckily, there are ways to throw a great party, even when you are on a budget.

Start by setting your budget. This means coming up with an actual dollar figure on what you want to spend. You can decide on any amount that you can afford, but coming up with a budget will help limit your spending to the things you really need. It will help you allocate your total funds better, and deter you from buying anything unnecessary.

You should also make a detailed list of what you need. Be specific, but stick to things you actually need, as opposed to things you want. Shopping from a list will help you curb impulse buying, and will also help you keep your budget in mind.

Unless your party will be really casual, you will need to send out some sort of invitation. Save money by making them yourself. You can purchase blank invitations fairly cheaply, or you can have picture ones printed up at WalMart, or any other online picture site.   Walmart always had great deals on photos.  Save some more money by hand delivering them if you can. Also, rather than including an RSVP card, and paying for the card to be printed and the return postage on it, include your phone number or email address on the RSPV itself so guests can contact you. An alternative to Walmart is vistaprint. Vistaprint is known for their business cards, but they also print materials for parties. Check the internet for any vistaprint promotions prior to purchase.

You can also choose to send out e-vites. They are free and you can design them yourself. All you will need is your guest’s e-mail addresses.

No party is complete without some decorations. But this does not mean you need a ton of expensive decorations. You can buy them at discount stores, warehouse stores, or even thrift stores. You can also ask around and borrow some items. You never know if a friend or a neighbor has a punch bowl, a platter, or even balloons you can use. Instead of paying for helium, you can blow up balloons by mouth and use them to decorate tables or scatter them on the ground.

All you really need are a few balloons and some streamers. But if you want to go with some non-traditional party decorations, you can still do it thriftily. Visit a craft store or specialty store, such as JoAnn’s or Michaels, and pick up some artificial flowers.  If purchasing online, use Joann coupon codes to save even more.  You can wait until the stores have sales or coupons to save even more. Use the flowers to decorate tables, doorways, or stairs. Water can also be used to decorate. Use food coloring to dye water any color to match your theme, and put the colored water in vases with some flowers. Or you can use the water to make your own colored ice sculptures. Floating candles in water also makes a beautiful dinner party decoration, and you can pick up small candles for cheap.

If you are crafty, you can make some decorations. Paper lanterns are easy to make, and create ambiance for an evening party. You could also decorate using pictures of the guest of honor. Gather pictures from childhood to current and have them printed out. You can do different size photos and hand make borders and frames for them. You can even make a banner at home. Purchase an inexpensive poster board, or cover some cardboard with plain white paper. Use you decorate it however you want: hand draw words, print out something on the computer, or blow up a picture of the guest of honor.

Every party needs some sort of food. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask each guest to bring a dish. You will get a varied menu and you will save on the food expenses. If some of your guests do not know their way around the kitchen, you can also request non-food items such as napkins, paper plates, and cups.

If you, as the host, want to provide all the food, you can save money by preparing it yourself. Your goal should be a simple, but balanced menu. If you are throwing a dinner party, think of a simple appetizer, a soup or salad, and a main course. For an appetizer, you could do a vegetable and deli meat tray. Instead of purchasing it, you can put it together yourself. This gives you the advantage of picking out the meat and vegetables according to your guests likes, and you can buy on sale. You could also make your own fruit tray with fruits that are in season, and therefore cheaper.

For a cheap but hearty salad, make it yourself as well. If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, you can buy pre-made salad in bulk. If you want to be even more cost effective, you can buy bags of cut lettuce, baby tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, eggs, and anything else you want to add to your salad. Top it off with cheese you shredded yourself.

The main course does not have to be extremely fancy. You are not required to serve steak and lobster. You can feed your guests a turkey or a ham. Preparing a pasta dish for your guests is also very budget friendly.

If your party is a day time event, you can be a little more lax with the menu, especially if it is a kid’s party. Visit Sam’s Club or Costco for frozen pizzas and hot dogs. They are inexpensive, and are always kid friendly.

For dessert, make a cake yourself. You can find hundreds of cake recipes online. You can vary the desserts and make cupcakes instead, or bake brownies or cookies.

Once the food is covered, you need to think of drinks. If it is an adult party, limit the alcohol you provide. Stick to the basics, beer and wine, and only offer one or two types of each. You can also allow your guests to bring their own alcohol of choice, and you can provide soda for mixing. If it is an all adult party, you can do a wine tasking. Ask each guest to bring a bottle of wine, and you can provide the cheese and crackers as well as the meal.

As far as tableware goes, using real dishes and utensils that you already own will save you big money. If you must go with paper goods, look for store brands.

Throwing a party can be done on a budget. Set up your said budget, plan to shop frugally, borrow what you can, prepare and cook your own food, and limit fancy drinks. You will still have everything you need to have a great and successful party, but you will not have broken the bank doing so.

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