Some people are natural entertainers. They can throw the perfect party together seamlessly and effortlessly. From having the most delicious food, to amazing decorations, and of course, the best guest list, they make party planning look easy-peasy.
More often than not, however, the best parties comes with a hefty price tag. Hiring event planners, DJs, and caterers, can cause party costs to get out of control quickly. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for a memorable party. With a little creativity and planning, you can throw a party that will keep your guests raving for years.
1. Start a party fund
First order of business? Create a budget.
Parties become expensive quickly if you don’t have a predetermined budget. And the worst part is, you could spend too much on one aspect of the party (like drinks) and not have enough for another important component (like decor).
Start by determining how much you plan to spend on the whole party. Then divide it up into categories, such as food, decor, invitations, entertainment, and other. Next, set a realistic limit to each category. You can do this in a simple Excel spreadsheet or on paper. As you purchase items for the party, be sure to keep track of every expense.
2. Ask for help
Planning a party can be stressful, but you don’t have to do it alone. Instead of hiring an expensive event planner, ask a friend to throw the party with you. He or she can take some of the burden and expenses of party planning.
Have a friend who is an incredible baker? Ask him to make desserts. Know someone who has the best taste in music? See if she can make the party playlist to keep everyone entertained all night long. Outsourcing doesn’t just help make your life easier, it also allows other people to join in on the party planning process. Plus, it’s way cheaper to solicit the help of friends than it is to hire a professional.
3. Get creative with decor
No party is complete without decor! While decorations are what really brings a party theme to life, you don’t have to blow your budget. You can save money by looking at what you already have around the house.
Instead of buying multiple centerpieces (that you might never use again), try mixing a variety of vases, figurines, and decorations from around your home. Or, hit up the dollar stores for affordable candles and votives. Have a mishmash of china at home? Theme your party around that and mix and match all of your decorations for a whimsical vibe. If it’s an outdoor party, hang up some cheap cafe or christmas lights to create a cozy feel. (See also: 12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor)
4. Supply cheap food
As the party host, no one is expecting you to serve a five course, Michelin star-worthy meal. The key is to keep your food simple and appealing to everyone.
If you’re cooking yourself, consider making easy batch meals, such as pasta, tacos, chili, or BBQ. These types of foods are easy to batch-cook and are liked by most people. To add a creative flair, set it up as a station so guests can add their own toppings and create their own dish.
If you’re not a cook, you can still cater meals while on a budget. The trick is to reach out to casual, smaller restaurants or catering companies. They are more likely to cut you a deal and allow you to personalize your menu. (See also: 14 Crock-Pot Dishes to Serve at Your Next Party)
5. Set up games
Who says entertainment has to be expensive? There are plenty of ways to keep your guests occupied and having fun without spending an arm and a leg.
For an outdoor party, set out a few yard games such as cornhole, croquet, or horseshoes. Everyone loves these classic games, and it’s an easy way to bring guests together.
And if you’re throwing an indoor dinner party, it’s still a good idea to keep some games in mind, such as Pictionary and charades. You never know how late guests will want to stay or when there might be a lull in the party. Having a few games on hand can be your saving grace. (See also: The 5 Best Board Games for Adults)
6. Rethink booze
If you choose to provide alcohol, the costs can add up quickly. It’s a slippery slope because everyone tends to have different preferences as to what they drink. You risk overspending by trying to purchase alcohol to fit everyone’s tastes.
Alternatively, you can get creative with booze. Instead of providing a full bar, choose some staple liquors and offer several mixers like juice and soda. Also, most people will be happy with a selection of beer or wine. On the invitations, you can let guests know what alcohol you’re providing, and encourage them to bring their own beverage if they prefer something different.
Or, if you’re throwing a themed party, a signature drink can fit the bill. Create a themed cocktail and whip up a big batch for everyone. Not only is this cheaper, but it allows you to step away from playing bartender all night at your own party.
7. Create a playlist
No need to hire an expensive DJ or band for the perfect party. Create the perfect ambience by arranging your own playlist through Spotify.
Throwing a dinner party? Classical, low-key music can provide the ideal background noise. Backyard barbeque? Try throwing in some country and pop hits. You can create your own playlist or use one of many preset playlists offered on Spotify.