Hosting on a Budget: Party Planning Ideas and Ways to Save for a Tight Budget
Hosting is an incredible way to gather with friends and family in a familiar environment. However, hosting can often become expensive, especially with larger crowds. You'll need to gather the recipe ingredients, drinks, and décor as the host, often leaving a large dent in your wallet.
The below guide provides tips and tricks, recipe ideas, and more to help you keep your party budget in check. This guide works well for any holiday celebration, from Thanksgiving to Friendsgiving, and any large gathering.
How to Host on a Budget
Follow these tips to help you continue hosting on a budget.
Find Décor at the Dollar Store
Depending on the celebration, you can find ample decorations at the Dollar Store. It’s easy to stay on budget when all your decorations only cost a dollar. This option is great for holiday celebrations, as these stores typically carry seasonal knickknacks. However, for birthday parties or other similar events, you may need to head to other retailers, such as TJ Maxx or Party City (the party store).
Future savings tip: As you gather décor, save what you can after each celebration. That way, you can reuse your décor in the future, helping to avoid additional costs down the road.
Curate Homemade Décor
If you want to avoid spending money on decorations, you can also create décor at home. You'd be surprised at how crafty you are with items you likely already have at home. You can create centerpieces from dried flowers and mason jars you have on hand. Alternatively, you can pick fresh flowers from your garden (if you have one) to help make the table more festive.
Select Tea Lights Over Candles
Mood and lighting are important for parties, especially for a dinner party or evening gathering. If you plan to create mood lighting, skip the candles and more expensive options for tea lights. You can find tea lights for a relatively low price. Plus, you can reuse them repeatedly, so you won't have to purchase more for each event unless they break.
Keep hold of old jars after you use food items, wash them, and store them away. Then, you can pull them out for events and add the tea lights in for a fun lighting effect.
Create Recipes With Pantry Staples
One of the major expenses you incur while hosting an event is purchasing groceries to create recipes. Instead of finding random recipes that require you to purchase every ingredient, aim for recipes using ingredients you already have in your pantry/fridge.
This option may require you to alter recipes slightly to ensure you're using as many ingredients as possible from your own food pantry. You can also aim for recipes that use more inexpensive ingredients (such as fresh produce and low-cost dry goods).
Here are some tasty recipes that won’t break the bank:
These recipes include a combination of pantry staples and lower-cost food items to help you stay within budget.
Consider Hosting a Potluck
If your budget is extra tight, you may want to consider hosting a potluck instead of cooking every meal item. Alert your guests ahead of time and request each person bring their favorite dish they can share with the other attendees. You can offer a theme or have a sign-up for dishes, so there is a good balance of mains, sides, appetizers, and desserts.
Most people are content with bringing one item or dish, making this an excellent option for a budget-friendly celebration.
Choose One Type of Drink
With any good celebration comes drinks. You can save money on alcoholic beverages by creating one main mixed drink for people. That way, you don't have to purchase ingredients for various drinks. Consider creating a punch or mixed drink, as you can make big batches simultaneously. Large batches will help you save time and keep your bank account at a higher balance.
If people don’t want to drink a cocktail or mixed drink during the celebration, you can allow them to bring their own drink (beer, hard seltzer, etc.).
Below, you’ll find some mixed drink options that you can make in batches for a gathering:
· Blackberry Thyme Sparkling Coffee (non-alcoholic option)
Plan a Later Party
Another great way to maintain a low-budget party is by creating an event that begins later. For example, if you're celebrating a birthday, you can invite guests over for cake and presents only. Ensure you're curating a party between meal times, so attendees do not arrive hungry. If you proceed with this option, ensure you let the guests know that only dessert or light fare is being served.
Parties are exciting events that can often lead to over-purchasing decorations, food, and drinks. List out the items that are actually needed and a realistic quantity for each. Consider using a minimalistic approach to décor, which will help you save costs.
Tally up how many people will be at the celebration and create enough food for 1-2 portions per person. Ensuring you purchase the correct amount of items and keep simple décor will help keep your budget down.
Plan Ahead by Saving
Most larger celebrations are planned at least a few months in advance. Once you offer to host a special event, begin budgeting and saving any extra money. By creating a fund, you can stress less when it comes time to purchase items for the celebration.
It's easy to increase money in your fund if you add small amounts at once. You can put any extra change or smaller bills into a party fund jar. Then, you will barely notice the money you're setting aside. Before you know it, you'll have a fund in place to use toward hosting a party.
You never know; you may even have some extra available in the fund to put toward extra decorations or snacks!
Check out our editorial dishes if you're looking for additional recipes to add to your party menu. You'll find an array of appetizers, entrées, side dishes, desserts, and drink options. Peek into your cabinet first, and see which dishes you can make without a trip to the store!