10 Tips for Throwing a Fabulous Party on a Budget Slideshow

How to throw a stylish party without breaking the bank

Avoid Pre-Packaged Food

Photo Modified: Flickr/NatalieMaynor/ CC4.0

Sometimes buying in bulk isn't a good thing. We'll admit, it is extremely hard to forgo the cute, convenient veggie trays and pre-sliced cheese and cracker setups. After all, they are right there, done, and ready to go. But planning ahead and avoiding those pre-packed trays can save you an average of $15 to $50 a pop!

Instead, buy your ingredients individually, from farmers markets or discount stores. This allows you to create creative and personalized snacks that your guests will love, giving your event an edge that a standard packaged food tray couldn't give you. Also, making sure you are stocked early with regular party essentials will help cut costs at crunch time.

Go Generic

Photo modified: Flickr/ Matthew Rutledge/ CC4.0

In America, we are pretty transfixed by the idea of labeling; we trust brands for quality. But generic really isn't so bad, especially when it allows you to save money without sacrificing taste. When buying for a large group, focus on purchasing generic label produce, pasta, pantry staples, and even cola.

Your guests need not know you purchased brand X chips, because as any good host knows, they’ll never see the bag! Bring out fun colored bowls and serving trays to plate your food. Garnish with herbs found in your pantry and voilà! No one will be able to tell the difference.

Say No to Arrangements

One “pocket full of posies” from the florist will empty your other one of all of its green — cash that is. Floral arrangements can get pretty pricey and the cheaper ones tend to leave customers thinking, “I could have done that for 30 bucks!” And they would be right — you can.

Hit up your local grocery or bodega for fresh, cut flowers at half the price. If you want to dress up your freshly made bouquets, run down to your closest craft store and pick up accents that will contribute to the overall theme of the party. Want to save even more? Try buying nothing and looking around your home or in the woods nearby for objects that will brighten up your table!


Ban Paper Plates and Plastic Cups

Photo modified: Flickr/Didriks/ CC4.0

The temptation to buy paper products is understandable, especially when you have a large group to cater to. The cleanup is faster, and the worrying about dishes breaking is nonexistent. Disposable products are great for outdoor events (if you must buy them, go to the dollar store), but when serving family and friends indoors, opt for your dishes. Not only is it cost-effective — it is environmentally conscientious and aesthetically pleasing.

Bored with your own dishes? Try serving quests libations in quirky old mason jars or recycled mix-and-match dishes from the flea market.

Love Linens

Photo modified: Flickr/David Goehring/ CC4.0

For holiday parties and themed gatherings, linens can do wonders. Sometimes they can be that simple touch which brings everything together.

As finding that perfect tablecloth can be a challenge (not to mention expensive), make your own, or look for an alternative. Going casual? Skip the tablecloth altogether and lay down a sheet of Kraft paper or individual pieces of construction paper at each place, then dress up the paper with personalized sketches and jars of crayons for doodling. Even durable place mats that you can use time and again work, too!

Invite Electronically


Paper invitations can be a glorious introduction to your future affair, but unless it is for your wedding, in this text- and email-centric society we live in, sending an invite via snail mail can be rather pointless (not to mention expensive).

There are plenty of free evite services at your disposal. Customize it and click away to let your guests know about the next big blow out. There is also the less stylish but more versatile use of Facebook. Or, you could go old-fashioned and use the phone (gasp, calling people?!) or get creative with recycled goods and drop something off by hand.

Play DJ

Photo Modified: Flickr/Joe Crawford (artlung)CC4.0

For informal events, a DJ is the last thing you should be spending money on. While great for adding personality and rallying a crowd, unless you have a spin doctor as a BFF, a DJ is an expense that can be easily avoided.

Without a DJ, you have the opportunity to add a personality to your party through music. (If Gail Simmons can do it, so can you.) If you have a friend who does happen to have an impressive record collection, ask him to be the party's informal DJ — takes some stress off your back.

Stock Up Wisely

Photo Modified: Flickr/tlianza/ CC4.0

We should preface this by saying you absolutely need to have the bar somewhat stocked before guests arrive. But often, hosts waste so much money on the alcohol tab and are left with more than they know what to do with.

Begin by calculating just how much alcohol you need. Still short on cash? Ask your friends to BYOB. Just like a potluck, friends can bring their favorite signature drink with them, so long as you give them advanced notification in your initial invite. If a friend doesn't drink alcohol, ask guests to bring mixers along for something everyone can enjoy.

Invest in Cloth Napkins

Photo Modified: Flickr/Jamiesrabbits/ CC4.0

Wiping away spills and messes can be rather unpleasant when using paper napkins. Aside from being a huge waste of resources, often paper napkins leave white pills of paper on your dress or can't handle the cleanup of a major “oops.” Cloth napkins can, easily.

Cloth napkins in a white or dark color (easy to bleach or hide stains) are versatile, reusable, and are much nicer to wipe your face with than scratchy paper. They won't stick to fingers when wet, and can pull together a table setting rather nicely. Consider them an investment piece for parties to come.

Shop Smart for Favors

Photo Modified: Flickr/Chanelcoco872/ CC4.0

We all like to make sure our guests walk away with a little something extra. However, ordering something online might end up costing you more than you hoped, and you could get a whole lot less than you were expecting. The party favor can easily be made special through attention to detail.

Avoid the generically purchased gifts and instead make something yourself. Throwing a holiday party? Cookie tins filled with already made holiday treats are a perfect giveaway. How about a book club party? Make your own bookmarks to send guests home with.