How to Throw a Big Party on a Small Budget
Do you spend hours on Pinterest, pinning elaborate decorations and party favors, dreaming of hosting your next party? Perhaps you have pinned photos of beautiful centerpieces featuring fresh-cut hydrangeas in crystal vases sitting in the middle of a dining room table set to perfection.
In your Pinterest-world, the dining room chairs are covered with soft material and tied back with a wide ribbon. The champagne sits in a crystal bucket waiting to be opened. The lighting is soft, and you can almost hear the distant quartet, playing music in the background. And, the perfect honeymoon awaits the party’s end.
Then, you log into your banking app and see the balance available. Reality sits in, but the Pinterest board remains. How do you throw a big party on a small budget? It’s possible, but you will need to make some tough choices and plan ahead. Here are some tips on throwing big parties on a small budget.
Be strategic in your timing.
My son graduated from high school this spring, and he wanted to have barbecue at his party to celebrate. We’re from Kansas City where barbecue is life. While I would have loved to cater in my son’s favorite food for the entire guest list, I also realized that our party budget would not allow such extravagance. Instead, we had our family over from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
During this time, we feasted on brisket and beans. After the leftover barbecue was stashed in the fridge, we pulled out my son’s second favorite food – doughnuts. From 2-5 that afternoon we hosted friends and neighbors who wanted to offer well wishes to my son.
We bought our doughnuts from the best place in KC, but it was still much cheaper than feeding the entire guest list a barbecue dinner. If you don’t want to feed everyone a full meal, then don’t have your party during mealtime.
Find discount party supplies online.
I get it. You want your event to be something that your guests remember. You want memorable and trendy decorations to adorn your house. Look online to see what decorations are for sale in your area. If you don't mind additional shipping costs, you can hide your IP address with a VPN to shop outside your area. Depending on your Zip Code, the price may vary since online stores often have different prices depending on where you access their site from.
Be creative with your searches. Even if you aren’t decorating for a wedding, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use someone’s wedding decorations or engagement party supplies for your event. If you are having an event during the time of a major holiday, let the holiday decorations be the backdrop for your party.
Buy your food from warehouse stores.
No one needs to know. Transfer the food to your serving dishes and recycle the containers. I have priced many of the food items at these stores, and by the time you purchase all the ingredients to create them yourself, you will have spent as much money as buying the food already prepared. It also makes budgeting for food easier.
You can go on a reconnaissance trip to your local warehouse store to determine your menu and quantity of food. If you search for recipes and buy the ingredients at the grocery store, you may be shocked at the total on your receipt.
Ask your friends and family to help.
I know what’s it like to have large groups of people in my home, especially our family. Most of my family members are so thankful that they don’t have to host the event that they willingly bring food and beverages to serve at the gathering. I know I would bring Crepes Suzette to any party that my sister hosted if that meant I didn’t have to have my 14 grade-school nieces and nephews running through my house.
And speaking of 14-grade-school nieces and nephews, let’s discuss alcohol.
Consider preparing a punch for your party. Perhaps you might want to supplement it with some beer and wine, but there is no need to keep a fully-stocked bar, so your uncle can drink his favorite whiskey all evening. Come up with a snazzy name for your punch. Make it a “tradition.”
The most important aspect of hosting a party is not Pinterest-worthy decorations and food. It’s more than party favors and a great playlist. The most important part of throwing a party is making others feel welcomed. There may be someone at your party who is going through a rough time. Spend time talking with that person. Maybe there’s someone there who doesn’t know the other partiers. Make thoughtful introductions. Perhaps there are some who are shy and have a hard time intermingling. Spend some one-on-one time with them.
People may not remember your decorations and food, but they will care about how you make them feel.