With Thanksgiving only a week away and Christmas a little over a month away let the stress of the holidays begin. For some, the stress has already started. One of the my favorite things about the holidays is getting together with family and friends and all the fun parties that happen. Really though, I love throwing parties any time of the year. I’m not a party planning/throwing pro but I have learned a thing or two over the last few years.
If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I could throw a party for 15+ people for under fifty bucks I would have laughed and said “yeah right”. Fast forward to the Sydney of today, a stay at home mom with half the income of yester-year and I say “Heck yeah I can!” I have learned, through both want and necessity, that spending lots of money on a party doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the hit of the season and it won’t guarantee that everyone you invite will show up.
Today I’d like to share with you 5 tips and tricks that I have learned when it comes to throwing parties and how to throw a bash that everyone will love, even if you don’t have gobs of money to spend.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan. This is important for throwing a party whether you are limited on funds or not; but I think it’s even more important if you are on a budget. Knowing how many people are coming, what you want the theme of your party to be, what, if any, food will be served, and treat bags (contrary to popular belief you DON’T HAVE TO do treat bags) will help you not only financially but also when it comes to stress-levels. If you know what to expect, for the most part, you won’t be as stressed as party time gets closer or if something unexpected does come up.
2. Set a budget. Just like with meal planning and running the expenses every month, budgeting is key when throwing a party. Especially if money is limited. It’s really easy to get carried away once you get to the store and see all the cute decor or when you are perusing Pinterest getting ideas for food and goodie bags.
- Once you have a budget set stick to it. When I go shopping, I make out a list and an approximate cost of what each item will cost. I make sure that number is below my budget before I go. When I am shopping, I right down what each item actually costs and if I under estimate and reach my budget before I get everything on my list then I have to change things up a bit. In the past it has been putting back store bought toys for goody bags and making my own treats or opting to do just a fruit tray instead of both a fruit and veggie tray. Yes, this requires some thinking on your feet, but hey we’re moms, we’re used to changing things on the fly right?!
3. Send digital invites. With technology today it is so much easier to send out invites to parties without ever having to leave the house. Not only that, if you need to change something, like the time or location, it’s much easier to update everyone through email or Facebook. You can create an event on Facebook, use services like Paperless Post or Evite, or even create an invitation using Picmonkey, save it as a PDF and email it to your guests. All these options are free and you can do from the comfort of your couch!
4. Food. Remember you aren’t feeding an army. Parties are for gathering with friends and family and enjoying their company. So planning a three course meal is not necessary (unless you’re royalty and in that case money probably isn’t too big of a concern). When planning what you’re going to serve think of not only the ease of eating for the guest but also for you and your family. Plan on foods that you can eat as leftovers, or snacks through the days after the party. This was you can include these into your grocery budget and have more money for treats or decorating (or saving for some pampering for yourself after the party).
- Homemade tastes better, and is a lot easier on your wallet, than store bought. But keep it easy on yourself. Think of quick and easy dishes that you can make ahead or that take little time to prepare. Think crockpot, cookies, cutting up your own fruit and veggies etc. Usually when I make fruit trays I spend about $5-$10 on all the fruit vs. spending double that on a pre-made tray. My favorite soup to make for parties is the Creamy Tomato Basil Soup I shared with you last week.
- Plan from the ads. Use store ads and plan what you’re cooking based on what’s on sale. Want to make a blueberry pie but blueberries aren’t in season and not on sale, opt for apples or pears, or whatever is on sale.
5. Use what you got. Whether it’s planning the foods to serve, decorations or treat bags, using what you already have at home is perfect for any family on a budget; because it costs nothing.
- Shop your pantry when you’re planning what to cook. Have a few extra cans of black beans, think about making taco soup. Did you buy canned pineapple when it was on the case lot sale? Try making Pineapple Punch. Using what you have not only costs less, but also frees up space in your fridge and pantry.
- No need to spend gobs of money on fancy decorations that you’ll use for one day. Have extra tissue paper laying around? Make this Tissue Paper Garland. For more great DIY decorating ideas check out Top Inspired’s Top 10 DIY Party Crafts.
- Treat bags are another area you can shop from home for. Did you stock pile on soaps and lotions at the last Bath & Body Works sale? Add them to gift bags for the ladies. Do you make your own beef jerky? Throw a few pieces in sandwich bags for the guys. And who doesn’t have empty toilet paper rolls laying around? Make homemade poppers like these from Wallflower Wonderland.
Bonus tip: Sign up to throw sponsored parties. Companies like House Party, Vocal Point and Mom Select work with top brands to help get the word out about new products. What that means for you is the chance to throw super fun parties and receive super cool toys (for kids and grownups) absolutely free. We’ve hosted several “house parties” and have loved every single one of them. Some times the sponsors even send giftcards to help cover some of the extra expenses of throwing the party. All you have to do is, throw a party between a certain time frame, post pictures and review the products. Visit their sites and sign up for free!!
Don’t forget the main reason of a party is to have fun! So don’t stress, plan, budget and have a good time! And for more party ideas check out my Party Pinterest Board