Where there’s a will there’s a way. Here’s how to achieve your perfect party without re-mortgaging your home!
Often when we dream of parties we dream big – because why not? Afterall a gal’s gotta dream right?
And let’s face it, there is also a competitive nature to party hosting. They become a representation of our domestic prowess, a symbol of our style and the ultimate expression of our creativity. I blame social media for this. Every detail is put on show, shared to the masses and judged by our social audience. I’m not saying this is a bad thing – a little healthy competition never hurt anyone 😊
But social media has an even bigger impact on parties when it comes to budgets. With access to more and more ideas and images and perfectly curated content ripe for the picking, it’s no wonder that a simple party can quickly snowball into a flashy, high-end, sell-your-first-child kind of affair.
Sometimes we set out to host exactly this. The soiree of the century. But most of the time we want to throw something, beautiful, fun and memorable – without breaking the bank. I’m not talking about parties on basically zero budget here. I’m just offering a few of my top budget friendly tips to consider and perhaps save a dollar or two…
Know your budget & prioritise
It sounds pretty obvious, but if you want to stick to a budget, you actually need to know what it is! Once you have decided exactly what you want to spend, you can work backwards from there. I’d follow this up by deciding what items you don’t want to compromise on. Think about what makes a good party – what’s important to you? Good music? Good food? The venue? The styling? Lots of people? For me, the number one most important thing is being able to invite all of my family and friends. So I won’t be compromising on number of guests.
With your priorities in mind, start to allocate your budget to different items. I’d like to say there are some great Apps out there to help you with this – you would think there would be. But I am personally yet to find any (so please let me know if you do). I find just using the ‘Notes’ section of my phone to jot down the budget, and keep track of spending is best. I’m one of those people that never goes anywhere without my mobile phone so this seems to be the most convenient option!
Start planning early
Grab a copy of our Party Planning Checklist and jump into planning mode early. The earlier the better really. One of
the first things you should do is choose your theme. Deciding this early does two things. Firstly, it ensures that you don’t start impulse buying. That is, buying things for the sake of buying things and ending up with a whole heap of things that once you actually choose your theme you can’t even use. I am so guilty of this! And secondly, if you know your theme (and you’ve started planning early) you can hunt for bargains and shop around over the next 8 or more weeks. You won’t be locked into choosing only what’s available or what can be delivered in the quickest time frame. Our party planning checklist will also help make sure you don’t forget anything. Sometimes it’s those last-minute items that can tip you over the budget edge.
Consider a free venue
The most obvious choice here is to host the party at home (or at the home of a friend or family member if more suitable). You will save more than just a venue hire fee by doing this. Usually if you decide to hire a venue, they come with expensive catering and beverage packages. You lose the flexibility to either DIY your catering, or to shop around for the best catering price. You are locked in to what the venue provides or allows.
Even if you don’t want to host your party at home, there are many other completely free party venues you could consider. Most of these may carry the small risk associated with poor weather, but usually it is worth the risk – and you can always have a back-up plan in mind. Parks, reserves, beaches, rivers, camping spots – think nature. If you choose a venue like this, the other great idea is to call it a ‘picnic’. That way guests can pack a picnic basket and come and celebrate the special day, with minimal cost to you. A few decorations, some share plates and a cake and you are done. And if you can, arrive early (or send a super helpful volunteer) to nab whatever covered seating areas there might be.
There are some options that offer the best of both worlds. Local community halls, sporting clubs headquarters, scout / guide halls, tennis courts, churches etc can usually be hired for minimal cost. You have the freedom to decorate and cater the party how you wish. And as an added bonus, these venues usually have kitchen facilities that can make catering a breeze.
So you started planning early, you settled on a theme before you started spending and you chose a “budget suitable venue”. You are well on your way to the perfect party!
When it comes to styling your party, you are probably thinking that this is where the big bucks need to be dropped. But that doesn’t need to be the case. If I could only give you one tip, it would be this. Spend the money on one killer focal point. A luscious desserts table, a homemade photobooth, an insane grazing board, or a delicious cocktail bar. Strategically position one main statement piece for your event, and apply minimal styling around it. This will be what your guests remember, and even what you remember when you look back at photos of the special day.
In terms of decorations, it’s so easy these days to DIY. After I’ve settled on a theme I ALWAYS hit Pinterest creating a board specifically for the party and gathering the best of the best DIY decoration ideas. Having a vision laid out in front of me on a board allows me to eliminate things I definitely don’t need, minimalise, and make an action plan. All you really need then is a printer (with ink), scissors, glue, time and patience.
The other great idea to minimise styling costs is to use styling items from around your home. Spend the weeks leading up to the party collecting jars that you can use as vases. Visit the flower markets to save costs. Hit the ‘candle cupboard’ – we all have one, right? Candles are the perfect styling item for practically any occasion. Use existing picture frames from around the house and fill them with ‘theme-related’ images – arrange them as your centrepiece.
Final cost cutting ideas
❤ Ditch the DJ – a well-chosen playlist on an ipod will do the job just fine. Ask your guests to nominate their fav tunes or make use of customisable radio Apps such as Pandora and iHeartRadio.
❤ Make your own cake. Boy these can be expensive. If you are not the Betty Crocker type, contact local cake makers and purchase a unique cake topper. Then all you need is a packet mix and some icing!
❤ Timing is everything. If possible, set the hours for your party away from main meal times. Make it an afternoon tea or even a ‘dessert party’.
❤ Say YES!! How many times do guests ask you if they can do anything or bring anything. Simply say yes! Allocate a dish and that’s one less thing that you (and your budget) need to worry about.
❤ Combine party favours with an activity at the party. If it’s a kids party, include a craft station where they can make something and take it home. For adults, a photobooth is always a winner and if you do this yourself, is actually pretty affordable.
❤ Consider the guest list and avoid inviting people that you just feel you have to. Especially for kids – invite their friends not yours.