Good day everyone. So maybe you’re expected to throw a party soon – for the upcoming halloween or later on for christmas or new year’s. Let me share a piece of knowledge right away – organizing parties is a pain. And not just that, it’s super lavish. I tried to collect some of the best tips for making a party on a budget.
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How to Throw an Awesome Party on a Budget
- First off, the party needs music. This is an easy one, you can just hook up a pair of normal speakers to a laptop and you’re good. Use that laptop to play music from Youtube, 8tracks, Spotify, Pandora, and similar services. I recommend 8tracks, which is essentially a youtube player except you let other people compile the songs for you. Super easy. The genre will largely depend on the audience, but I think you can’t go wrong with 90’s or oldies goldies.
- Related to the previous tip, if you don’t have a certain gear, for example good speakers, or an x-box, crockpot, enough plates, (we’ll talk about all that in a second) just borrow it. It’s best to get them from friends, but you might be able to get it at second-hand stores as well – it won’t be free though.
- Cheap Party Decorations -Pick a colour/theme and stick to whichever you decide: you could go ‘picnic’ with red and white checkered tablecloths from the dollarstore, white and kraft paper with an accent colour is pretty, ‘vintage tea party’ is very pretty – tea cups with your treats in it, doilies from the dollar store will add to the effect. Look around in your environment and see what you can find. Wildflowers look awesome in mason jars as well as vases – they look great in buckets, even. Think about family members and what they might have which could add to the overall look. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! :)I’m not sure how economical helium-filled balloons are where you are, but lately I’d purchased a roll of white gift-ribbon from the dollar store and hung them from the tops of door frames (they stand up better than crepe paper and create a nice curtain) and purchase 2 dozen helium balloons which I just separate to float on the ceiling, letting the ribbons dangle (you can curl them, too). Once I turn the light down a bit, they create awesome atmosphere. Throw some candles on tables (even tealights in interesting containers) and you’ve got all you need for decorations – sometimes less is more!!
Cheap Party Food for a Budget Party
- Ordering pizzas can get expensive, since most pizzas are just not free. You still need to serve food, though, and oftentimes, asking people to chip in is not an option. One thing that you can do is to ask people to bring their own food. But don’t just say that, tell them that it’s going to be a surprise party since nobody will know what exactly you’ll all be eating. You might get 20 bags of chips and 1 sandwich, but hey, it’s not a queen’s reception, right?
- You can do the same with alcohol. Tell guests that it’s going to be a cocktail party and have them bring different syrups and spirits. Then let them experiment with them and everyone will just have a good time.
- On your own, including buying munchies? Lower your costs by buying exotic stuff. Let me elaborate; some foods on, say, asian market, are very unknown to most people, so they don’t know how much they cost. You will be able to impress guests without having to fork out a lot of money. So where do you get this stuff? Try finding brick-and-mortar foreign stores in your town, bug your internet friends abroad, or simply order online.
- Make buffalo chicken dip in the crockpot. It’s super easy, pretty cheap (you can used canned chicken or chicken thighs) and only requires a few ingredients.
- Tacos, sandwiches, tortillas and similar make the best drunk food. But why make them yourself if you can have your guests make them? Just offer a few dips, veggies, cheese, nacho, guacamole, hummus, soups, ground beef, jalapeños, and other ingredients and let them fill up their tacos (*giggle*). You could do the same with baked potatoes.
- You could find some chicken on sale and cook and shred it up for chicken salad type of topping for crackers. The celery you put in the chicken salad is really cheap and you could just cut some stalks up for regular snackies too. Maybe throw some peanut butter on some of them.
- If the guests happen to be baked themselves, they might prefer sweets. Chocolate is not too cheap most of the time, but if you get a deal, make a chocolate fondue. Everyone will love it. And/or serve some cut up fruits, make a fruit salad, or fruit skewers.
- You can always turn the party into a pot luck and ask each of your guests to bring in a little something of their own. Then on top of whatever you’re able to afford preparing you should have more than enough to feed everyone. Plus it’s fun!
- Before we move on to booze, here are just a couple more ideas for dirt-cheap party foods: make arancini or fried potato balls with a dipping sauce, or grilled polenta. To lower the cost of tortillas even further, you can make your own (it’s like making pancakes).
- Cheap Cakes for Parties – Definitely go a boxed cake. I’m not sure if you have icing sugar at home, but you could compare pricing to see what is more economical where you live – a home made frosting here or a store bought can. If you have food colouring (and again, these are all items I have in my pantry, so what’s “cheap” for you may require an investment, and now probably isn’t the time for that), you can make a ‘piping bag’ out of a sandwich bag with the corner cut out of it, and decorate by tinting your icing to a different colour.
Cheap Party Drinks for a Budget Party
- You don’t have to add to your already huge expenses by buying soft drinks. Instead, you could offer sweetened ice tea (tea+sugar+ice=ice tea, duh), garnished or flavored water, homemade kombucha, or drink mixes like Kool Aid.
- My ex knows somebody who is a firm believer in grain alcohol (ethanol). He mixes it with juice just like you would do with vodka. I should probably also point out that the guy’s a scientist, which may come as a no surprise. Anyway, that’s a great frugality lesson right there, just don’t drink lab alcohol.
- You could make your own. Seriously, you can safely make your own beer, but it won’t save you much money. On the other side, there are other alcohols that will save you money, for example sangria – you just need to use the cheapest wine. As well as sangria, this awesome blog suggests you can make hooch out of regular juice with a little help from our close friend yeast.
- If you have a Costco near you, the Kirkland liquor is mass produced by big name liquor companies and comparable or better in quality than most. In some states you do not need a Costco membership to buy liquor there.If you are looking for “nice” name brands, I would personally get the following:
- Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky
- Tanqueray Gin
- 1800 Silver Tequila
If people are making mixed drinks out of those, it might be wasteful overkill. Don’t cheap out and get Burnetts/Andre/Charles Shaw. May as well get Franzia at that point. A lot of other Trader Joes wines are good though.
- Try to stretch all the booze you’ve got, meaning that you should offer non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic drinks with booze to mix. Another way to get waaay more drunk by drinking beer into which has been added a shot of hard liquor. Just saying.
- As it turns out, vodka is fun. Make a hole in a watermelon and just pour in vodka in until it’s full. Wait a couple of hours and repeat. Repeat and repeat and repeat until you can. Cut it up and offer to guests. Instant s**tfacedness. Or you could do drunken gummy bears.
- Drinks for in-between, DDs – iced tea, hot tea – both super economical. Look in the freezer aisle for frozen juices from concentrate if you have to – dress them up with some fruit. A go-to for me, which is also very responsible (got to make sure the drinkers are getting their ‘tweenies’) is to have a nice big jug/decanter (I have a vintage drink dispenser I received for a gift one year)full of water with lemon slices. It looks super pretty and is thoughtful, without being expensive, at all. You may be able to borrow something like this from a family member or friend. Combined with tea or iced tea – you have your bases covered.
Other Budget Party Tricks
Ok, a few more tips just jammed into this paragraph for the outro: get help with cleaning afterwards, preferably from the party attendees, have a party outside if indoors is not an option, always party-proof the place (like remove carpets, house plants, etc), if you’re above 12, do not choose a theme for your party – if you’re under 12, however, you should ask the guests to dress up so you spend $0 for decorations. Also, instead of lame board games you should have an xbox kinect or wii for entertainment (see tip #1).
Just have fun, survive, and remember to never offer to host a party again. Cheers! Bookmark this page and reference it next time you’re looking to throw a party on a budget!