Sunday, April 29, 2012

Party Planning on a Dime

Hosting a party, whether it's a child's birthday or a casual get together with friends, can be costly. Take mass quantities of food, toss in some drinks and decorations, and the receipts start to add up.

Party hosting doesn't HAVE to be expensive, though, and there are a number of things you can do to lower expenses.

  • PLAN AND BUY AHEAD - Some party goods have a long shelf life. Think ahead, and when you see items on sale, pick them up and store for later. I knew that I would be hosting my son's first birthday party in April. As the party drew closer, I began to buy inexpensive, and sometimes free , items that I could use for the event, like soda, cake mix, frosting, chips, guacamole (freeze it), and condiments. By buying ahead, I was able to avoid paying full price during the week of the party.
With some careful planning, I spent about $10 for the "snack table" food - dinner & drinks not included. The table decorations were homemade.
  • MENU PLAN AROUND SALES - You won't be able to pick up all your party food for pennies, but you can also save money by planning which food items will be served based on store sales. Check out which meats, fruits, and veggies are on sale. If beef is expensive, you don't have to serve burgers. Consider chicken. Instead of a fruit salad, look for a fruit or two that's in season and less expensive. I stuck to pineapple and strawberries, which were under $1.00 each, at Aldi.
  • STRETCH YOUR INGREDIENTS - When you're menu planning, try to include foods that use the same ingredients in different ways. If you're already buying tomatoes and green onions to use in one dish, see if you can find another use so that extra ingredients don't go to waste. For N's birthday party, I put out a veggie tray. I used some of the same veggies in my side dishes, like pasta salad (a new orzo recipe - YUM!) and a black bean salad - no need to buy extra ingredients.
  • CONSIDER THE TIME OF YOUR PARTY - This is a suggestion I didn't follow myself. If you want to save money, set the hours of our party before or after meal times. Consider a party in the middle of the afternoon, between lunch and dinner, or invite friends over for an after dinner get together. By doing this, you can avoid serving a meal and can instead offer just snacks and drinks.
  • MAKE YOUR OWN DECORATIONS - While skipping decorations altogether is always an option, sometimes you want things to look a little special. Forget about store bought decor, and think about making your own. I found decor inspiration on Pinterest and then turned to programs like Photobucket to help me create my own decorations, like a photo banner and a birthday wall banner (a free printable can be found here) - tutorials to come (I hope).
Birthday wall banner, made using Photobucket.

Newborn - 6 Month Photos

 7 Months - 1 Year

Close Up

Reader Response: What frugal party tips do you have to offer?

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