Hosting a party is a fun way to express hospitality to friends and family, but the expense can also be a strain on the budget. The concern with trying to throw a party on the cheap is that it will end up looking or feeling just as cheap. So how do you pull off an amazing, classy party that’s much less expensive than it looks? I threw a holiday party recently and came up with quite a few ideas. Here are seven simple ones for you to try next time you want to host a gathering.
1. Make your own decorations with inexpensive materials rather than purchasing them pre-made.
Decorations are one of the easiest things to get away with doing cheap without sacrificing appearance, especially if you borrow ideas from frugal decorating blogs or Pinterest. Here are a few fun ones, just at a glance:
- Construction paper snowflakes and stars
- A “chandelier” made from a spray-painted umbrella frame and a string of lights
- Wreathes made from Styrofoam and coffee filters or fresh cuts of evergreens
- Window displays made by hanging single bulbs from tension rods
- Ribbon — cheap, plenty of variety, and it looks good everywhere
2. Go to the dollar store for disposable paper goods, but serve from real flatware.
Not everything at the dollar store is a deal, but it’s a good place to find cheap disposable paper goods and supplies, holiday decorations, and bulk party favors that make it more affordable to customize for one occasion. To avoid even this expense, make your party a little classier by serving on real dishes. That’s right – pull out that fine tableware you never use and put it to work. The savings and elegant appearance of your party will be worth the extra load of dishes later.
3. Plan your menu based on sales, make your own appetizers and dips, and opt for cheaper desserts, drinks, and cheese.
Base your menu around what’s on sale, and get creative just like every other occasion. Appetizers like dips and breads are cheaper if you make them yourself, and a DIY dish has the added effect of appearing gourmet. For dessert, a punchbowl trifle is easy to make, visually appealing, and serves a large crowd. Instead of buying expensive, aged cheeses, use cheaper varieties like ricotta and fetta and add herbs, honey, or spices for extra flavor. Finally, a common recommendation for saving money on drinks is to feature just one signature cocktail.
4. Presentation is everything.
You also don’t have to serve rich foods to impress your guests. Even the cheapest appetizers and dishes can look impressive if you take the extra step to plate them appealingly in glass dishes or trays and spruce them up a bit with garnish and added touches.
5. Go with a theme: appetizer-only, dessert-only, cheese and wine, or a cookie swap.
Choosing to elaborate on a limited category adds uniqueness to your party while cutting out the expense of a multiple-course meal. Sticking with small-plate finger-foods that can be carried also encourages people to walk around and mingle and creates a livelier party.
6. Ask your guests to contribute food, but with class.
Potlucks are a cheaper way to handle gatherings with family, but you might feel awkward asking guests to bring food to your party. Instead, ask people to bring a specialty item to share, such as a batch of their favorite cookies, or make it a “bring and share your favorite wine” event. This also makes the food or drinks a focal point for conversation and a natural ice-breaker for interaction.
7. Less is more.
Finally, less is always more when it comes to throwing a classy party. Too much stuff and fuss can come across as cheap or garish no matter how much money you spend. The fewer, tasteful decorations and key foods (in plentiful quantities), the more memorable your event will seem.
Did you throw a party recently? What money saving tip have you learned?
Editor's Note: Did you know about the service called $5 meal plans? For $5 a month, they send you recipes of delicious, healthy, yet cheap food that costs just $5 a meal.
Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.