We don’t have parties often, but I love it when we do. Even though they can be expensive and a ton of work, it makes me so happy to have a houseful of friends and family. Even when they get hectic, it just makes my heart feel full. To help with some of the issues of the expense, I’m offering up some easy ideas for party planning on a budget.
10 Tips for Party Planning on a Budget
1. Skip paper invitation.
If all or most of your guests are online (and regularly check their email), a service like Evite is a great option for free invitations. Of course, an even more low tech option, while still being paperless, can be emails or phone calls.
2. Make your own cake.
If the party is a birthday party or another event that will involve cake, consider skipping over a store bought cake and either make your own cake or go for something like cupcakes or pies if you’re working on party planning on a budget. Personally, I’m a big fan of cupcakes. They are individually sized and there is no pressure on someone to cut a cake perfectly. (Here’s my favorite frosting recipe.)
3. Use what you already have at home.
If you’re determined to have a theme to your party, explore your home looking for supplies and other items that you might already have that would lend themselves to party decorations or supplies.
4. Throw a potluck.
If you want to have a meal but just can’t afford to invite all of your friends for a large meal, invite them to a potluck instead. It would be best if you provided the drinks and main dish (soups, grilled out meats, or something of that nature) and then had friends or family bring sides and desserts.
5. Decorate with things you can reuse.
When we had a very large birthday party for Molly one year, we bought balloons to blow up ourselves as well as pink crepe paper. Those were our only single-use decorations.
I also picked up a “Happy Birthday” banner that could be reused as well as LED white Christmas lights to put on the trees and our porch in the backyard. Because they were LED, they were bright enough to light the dark backyard for all the kids that played outside throughout the party. Those lights were not cheap, but we enjoyed them for many years afterward, as well as for additional parties and gatherings.
6. Accept help from friends.
If you have the kinds of friends who say, “What can I bring?” or “What can I do?” – let them help. Now, I will admit that I almost always decline those offers.
However, that said, I admire someone like my friend Amanda who trusts people enough that she had her sister-in-law (who is a friend of mine as well) and I make the cakes for her twin sons’ First Communion party. Other relatives also brought some other desserts.
7. Avoid mealtimes for your party.
Food adds a large expense to party planning. While I think it’s nice to have some type of food at a party, having it at a meal time will either cost you a lot of money or will leave your guests disappointed when your party time that starts at noon includes only cake and punch. Have your party well after a meal time so you can get away with something like only cake and punch to save money on your party planning on a budget.
8. Make food from scratch rather than packaged foods.
If you would like to feed people, as I often do, it’s much cheaper to make the food yourself rather than heading to the grocery store or club store to buy prepared foods.
9. Skip party favors.
Who really needs party favors, right? The only time we’ve ever done party favors was the year that Molly had a princess birthday party at home and the girls got to each pick a tea cup to use at the party and then take home. However, we got them all for $1.00 or less per cup by visiting Goodwill.
10. Go somewhere that provides an activity.
Now, I’m not talking about something like a pizza party type of location if you’re trying to save money. I’m talking about something like a local park. Some parks will let you rent a shelter for free or a small cost and then party guests can do activities like playing on playground equipment, sports, trails, and other activities.
What are some of your favorite budget savers when it comes to parties?
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