No, “On A Shoestring!” isn’t Miss Party’s latest and greatest party theme; it’s more of a ‘situation’ that families sometimes face – they’ve got more party than budget! Special events don’t care that your finances are on a diet, they come just the same. Well, then, how can you host that special event but not break the bank? There are lots and lots of ways to keep costs under control. Let’s turn desperation into inspiration!
As Miss Party walks you through ways to cut or remove costs, let’s keep in mind that: a) most of your guests will attend your party regardless of what they think you’ll provide because they want to support and spend time with the Guest of Honor, Hosts, family and friends; b) having a good time at a party has very little to do with how much the Hostess spent, and everything to do with the people there; b) you know how little you spent, but your guests don’t (and shouldn’t) know your real party theme was “On A Shoestring!”; c) making ‘budget-friendly’ decisions can still look awesome from the guest’s perspective and are not the same thing as being cheap; and d) a little thoughtfulness and creativity costs much less, and is valued much more with your Guest of Honor and guests, than full price, ready-made is often worth.
Miss Party’s 5 Tricks for Tricky Budgets:
1) It’s PARTY time! – Rather, it’s all about the party TIME! Choose a beginning and ending time for the party that does NOT cross over a mealtime. Guests won’t arrive with the expectation that a meal will be provided AND they are likely to be relatively full from the meal they just had before arriving at your party, or they may not eat much knowing they will be leaving your party and going to dinner.
2) Telephone guests or send email invitations and/or a Facebook invitation, instead of paper invitations. No invitation, no printing, no stamps, no cost! Call elderly guests who aren’t computer savvy, or buy one package of paper invitations to cover that group that isn’t terribly computer literate. A fun postcard can also be a cost-effective party invitation; or take an inexpensive, pre-packaged set of invitations and jazz them up as you can see in the “Reach for the Sky” Graduation Party. You could also hand-deliver invitations for local guests (just don’t put the invitation in the mailbox until after the mail run, it’s technically illegal to do so but also may inadvertently be picked up by the mail carrier) to save on postage.
3) Do NOT provide a meal’s worth of food because of your guilt over the party time you chose. Offer a small, but reasonable, amount of simple, high-quality or fresh snack-type of foods; make one or two hors d’oeuvres, and one or two dessert options. Search out a friend who might have a bulk warehouse membership and watch coupons and grocery sales for ingredients you know you’ll need. Don’t make food for the masses or for more people than you reasonably expect, people eat much less than you think when it’s a mingling social event. You’ll turn savings into waste if you have a lot of leftover food. It’s okay if something runs out, there will be something else there for the guest to choose. Remember, people really aren’t there to eat, they’re there to socialize which means they will go to the food table very infrequently (especially women who are watching their diets).
4) Don’t serve alcohol, if you want to keep your costs way down. Instead, serve a pretty non-alcoholic punch or mocktail (such as this non-alcoholic version of Planter’s Punch or French Lemonade), iced tea, or lemonade. A large, clear beverage dispenser can be purchased, borrowed or rented at a reasonable cost and would be preferable to a punch bowl if serving outside, for keeping bugs and unwanted alcohol ;) out. Sodas, flavored waters and iced water (with lemon slices for color) are welcome, too. Use 6-8 oz clear plastic glasses (a reasonably sized cup is best, people don’t over pour and waste with a gigantic beverage they can’t finish). If you would like to offer one alcoholic beverage, Miss Party Smarty recommends you go with white wine, or one red and one white wine choice.
5) A special party doesn’t have to be expensive to be coordinated and cohesive! Purchase paper goods in a simple, attractive color scheme that would make the Guest of Honor happy or tie in with your home decor. The quickest way to a ‘coordinated and cohesive’ food table is to limit the color palette and/or style in serving trays and bowls as well as color scheme; i.e. all white, all clear, all ceramic, all fiesta-ware, etc.