No matter the time of year, there’s always an excuse for a party—so many, in fact, that it’s in your best interest to learn how to throw a party on a budget before your household budget is completely blown. Food, drink, and decorations are often the biggest expenses when it comes to throwing parties at home, so let’s focus on how to drive down the costs of those three line items.
When it comes to menu planning for your party on a budget, your best bet is to aim for buffet-style foods and drinks. Take the time to sit down and list each recipe you’d like to use, all the ingredients in each, and ask yourself these questions:
Where are there opportunities to buy ingredients in bulk to save money and reduce waste?
What recipes can you swap out for others to better use your core ingredients?
With these two questions as your guide, start cutting down and editing your party menu. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save when you throw a party by smart menu planning. Not sure where to start? Check out some of these party menus before you try planning your own:
Want to save even more cash? Take your list of ingredients to your local budget-conscious grocer, price club, or big box store and see what’s on sale or cheaper than your typical grocer. If you have the time, hit a few different stores to hunt for deals maximize savings. Don’t forget to take advantage of coupons, loyalty cards, and store card discounts if you can!
Consider this: Your home is already full of almost everything you need to decorate a party on a budget. Think about your seasonal decorations, your existing housewares, kitschy items in far-flung corners of your home, and start imaging how you can repurpose these items and save yourself some cash without forgoing festive surroundings.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Use string lights from Christmas or other holidays as unique, moody, festive lighting around doorways, above your buffet, over your picnic table outside, and other places.
Throwing a theme party? Ransack your existing holiday decorations, the linen closet, the kids’ rooms, and even the garage and gardening shed for on-theme or color-appropriate items to hang up as decoration or add to your tablescapes.
The best time to pick up decorations for your party on a budget is when a holiday season is over—which requires a little bit of planning in order for it to work out in your favor. While you may want to buy and save holiday-specific decorations to take advantage of deep discounts, don’t forget to look for clearance items that could do double duty for another event.
You’re missing out on some amazing deals at your local dollar store. Focus on these areas to get the most bang for your buck:
Decorations: Candles and candleholders, tablecloths, garlands and streamers and signage, string lights, pillows, blankets, faux silk flowers—decorations abound at the dollar store. Whatever you couldn’t find amongst your collection of decorations or at sales you’re likely to find on the cheap at a dollar store.
Place settings: Yes, of course, disposable plastic forks and knives and cups and plates are found at the good ol’ dollar store, but that’s not necessarily what we suggest. There are huge savings to be had on flatware, plates of all sizes, cups, mugs, and glassware at your local dollar store. And not the disposable plates and cups you may associate with parties and picnics—honest to goodness real place setting items! For parties at which disposable items won’t do but your own daily place settings won’t suffice—backyard weddings and other fancier at-home parties for which one may dress up—check out your dollar store options. Bonus: If you have the space you can store these items away and use them again the next time you need to throw a party on a budget!
Party favors: Party favors aren’t just for kids’ parties anymore. Send cocktail party guests home with a set of champagne flutes (from the dollar store, of course); gift Christmas guests hand-painted ornaments with their name, the year, and something festive; or give visitors a selection of treats from the candy aisle, neatly wrapped in festive bags and tissues.