So, I love to throw parties. I always want to make a big hoopla about everyone's birthday and make a cake and decorate the place like it's my job. However, too many times I have decided to throw a party only to end up spending way too much money and not even really end up with a result that I am proud of. This was usually because I did not adequately plan ahead. So here is what I have learned along my party-throwing journey through life; hopefully they help you to save time and money as well as help you throw a phenomenal shin-dig.
1. Decide who you are inviting. This will define how simple or fancy you want your party to be. Most of the time, you are inviting good friends over and they probably don't care as much as you do about the intricate details. They are there for the company. Keep it as simple as you can. A tablecloth and some flowers, streamers or balloons will make the room feel festive and fun.
2. Give yourself sufficient time. If you decide you want to throw a certain kind of party, don't schedule it for the upcoming weekend. To do it right you will want some time. I usually give it at least a month. Decide on your theme, and once you know what you want to do, you can begin your real planning.
3. Make a budget. Most of your party budget will be spent on food and decorations. First of all, buy things like this slowly, over time. If any of the food you want to serve can be frozen, or ingredients for what you are making are non-perishable- incorporate them into your grocery budget so that you can buy one or two of them each week and save them til the big day. Craft stores like Joann's, Michael's and Hobby Lobby have tons of party supplies, (or materials you will need to make your own) and conveniently also offer a 40% coupon pretty much every week. Check your junk-mail, it's there. There is no reason to pay full price if there is a coupon readily available!
4. Do not pay for invitations. With all of the free resources on the web, you can find so many cute invitations and all you need to do is print them. My favorite place to find them is ISharePrintables.com If you have a color printer, this will cost you nothing. If you don't, a few cents each at a copy store will be worth it. Since stamps really add up these days, I prefer to use heavy card stock to print my invites on and send them as postcards. Postcard stamps are only .32 cents as opposed to .45 each. It will also save you time by not having to stuff envelopes! (Note, postcards must be 6"x 4 1/2" or smaller for that price.) If you don't feel the need to send paper invitations, there is always Facebook or E-vite.
5. Ask for help. You might not even need to, because I have often found that when my friends get their invitations, most of them immediately text me, asking "What can I bring?" Which is my favorite question ever. Their help means a couple more dollars you don't have to spend. Ask them to bring something that goes with your theme, for instance if it is a fiesta party ask them to bring chips and salsa, guacamole, or some kind of drink. It is also good to have someone else (husband, friend, mom) around before the party to go pick up any last-minute things you might have forgotten.
6. Borrow. You don't necessarily have to buy all of your party supplies. You probably have friends, family and neighbors who have a few things you could use. If you know your friend has a beverage dispenser that would be perfect for your dessert table, ask if you can borrow it. Since you will only be using it for a few hours anyway most people won't mind, just make sure you give it back in the same condition or better than what it was in when you got it.
7. Don't stress out. You are throwing a party, and parties are fun. Don't ruin it for yourself. Just because not everything is perfect, does not mean it isn't an awesome party. You will get tons of thank-you's and compliments for hosting whether or not your cake looks like it came from a professional bakery.
8. Re-use your supplies! If I had to get rid of this whole post and could only give you one piece of advice it is this: Don't throw away your decor. Tablecloths can be washed or wiped down, streamers can be rolled up again and tissue paper pom-poms can be folded and stored until your next get-together. You can stockpile these items and use them again and again, and you will get to the point where you don't have to buy almost anything for parties because you already have what you need. Someday, I will have an entire walk-in closet dedicated to party supplies. For now, the top shelf of my very tiny closet will do.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out these similar budget posts:
How to Vacation on a Budget
How to be a Great Host on a Budget
How to Decorate on a Tiny Budget
How to Plan Now for Less Stressful, Happy Holidays!
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