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How to throw a big party on a small budget

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Hosting a fabulous party doesn't need to drain your bank account . There are lots of affordable and creative ideas for catering, decoration, and party styling that are sure to impress your guests. If you have an expensive idea then rethink it and see if you can turn it into a handmade or homemade idea.  Focus on keeping things minimal and easy to do.  It's totally still possible to wow, even with a limited budget.

I'm going to share with you some ideas of how to turn that tiny budget into an unforgettable party. Remember, that every party is a networking opportunity, especially for those of us who have our own businesses.  Friends and family are always so interested in what me and my husband do as our businesses, so before you start making a plan, have your mini business cards ready to be sure they check out your website after the party.

Send paper invites

Sending some beautiful handmade paper invitations make the event extra special and shows you are putting the effort in, especially if it's  a special occasion and you need a RSVP from everyone.  It's more personalised than sending a group text and gives the first impression of your fabulous party.  There are lots of ideas or templates online if you are not a very creative person.

Choose a party theme

Choosing to have a theme for a party can sometimes seamlessly tie a party together.  It doesn't have to be costly or complicated either, but something as simple as a colour theme which runs from the invites through to the colour of the decor at the party.

You could choose a rustic look and feel for the invites and then continue this with the decor by covering recycled glass jars in jute material and tying with brown string, then popping wither candles in the jars or water and daisies from your garden.  None of this needs to cost a fortune - pick your own flowers from the garden, use what you have or check charity shops.  Pinterest is an amazing resource if you are looking for inspiration and decor ideas.

Do it yourself when you can

A DIY party decoration can often be better looking and more thoughtful than a store-bought version, plus it can be more cost effective. All you need is some inspiration and creative ideas and you might even have all the materials you need already at home.  For a child's birthday party, for example, you could decorate a paper table covering with colours and characters that suit the theme or that are their favourite. Or draw outlines of characters that the party kids can decorate themselves - now you have a great tablecloth for the party and a party game in one!

Don't go overboard on food

If you're entertaining on a budget then expensive menus are going to be off the list.  Instead throw a buffet style party or nibbles. If you're throwing a kids party then create them each a little lunchbox to ensure there is no food waste and money wasted.  Simply pop each child's lunchbox meal in a striped paper bag and tie with streamer to make it more partyish and exciting!

You could always arrange the party to be held outside of eating hours, for example a kids party between 2-4pm when no one is hungry.  Simply state 'light snacks serves' on the invite and lay out a few bowls of crisps, bread sticks, crackers and vegetable fingers.

Or, if you're hosting a BBQ then ask guests to bring they're own food - whatever they desire to be BBQd.  You'll cook, but they can supply what they like to eat!

Offer a signature drink

Signature drinks are a great way to save money when party planning and will keep costs within your budget.  Unlike an open bar, where costs can quickly add up especially if you're trying to offer drinks to suit all manner of tastes, offering a signature drink instead will be much more affordable.  Create a big post of mulled wine for a festive party or a large bowl of a fruity cocktail for a summer party with a ladle and glasses for guests to help themselves.

Again, you can always state BYOB on the party invitations (Bring Your Own Beer).

Some of us don't drink alcohol, like me, or people might be designated drivers and only on soft drinks, so make sure these are served too.  There's also no need to have to serve alcohol at a party.  Why not have an afternoon tea party instead and actually serve several different pots of herbal and flavoured teas.  Very civilised!

Hire or borrow instead of buying everything

If this is a one-off special event that isn't likely to happen again, then you'll be wasting money on buying expensive equipment if you can hire it instead just this once.  Check with friends and family to see what tables and chairs can be borrowed if you need more, or check local marketplace's or thrift stores to find some for cheap.  We hired hay bales from a local farmer when we hosted our garden wedfest.

Ask guests to bring their own

As mentioned above, you could ask guests to bring their own.  Quite often guests will ask what they can bring anyway as they don't want to turn up empty handed!  it's quite normal to ask them to bring their own drinks and you'll supply the food, or to ask them to bring one of the courses such as starter or dessert.

Use flowers as decoration

One way to decorate a party beautifully without breaking the bank is to use flowers.  These can be real flowers from your garden or a local wildflower meadow, or even paper flowers and garlands.

Bloom & Wild, the UK’s leading letterbox flower service, has put together a list of expert party hosting tips on how to use flowers to decorate a party on a budget. With the help of professional party planner Rosanna Falconer, here are their must-do’s, sneaky tips, and shortcuts below:

  • Begin with a floral theme - It might be a place or a motif - the tropics or a rose - possibly a seasonal trend such as a Summer Heatwave or Festivals. Any theme should always provide you with the opportunity to get colourful, and creative, all at a low cost.
  • Table styling - Over to Rosanna for this one! "Foundations first, I start with a white tablecloth and spend a while ironing it and placing it perfectly straight. Then add the layers - for my heatwave-themed party, tropical flowers took centre stage. I styled your glossy anthurium, little celosia clouds, scented stocks, snapdragons and colourful cacti together with a hibiscus-print table runner and napkins that I tied with flower garlands (20p each from Amazon!)".
  • Flower prints cut the cost - That moves us smoothly to our next point. For budget friendly additions, don’t be afraid to shop around at charity, or craft shops for floral themed quirkiness. Rosanna suggests using flower themed wrapping paper for table runners, while napkins can be tied with flower garlands - both of which are very cost effective.
  • Use multiple small centrepieces - Traditionally large floral centrepieces are the table show-stopper, however they can restrict the guests view, discourage talking and often break the bank. Instead of one big one, use several small hand-picked wild bouquets, or single bud vases dotted in between - this should encourage conversation to flow freely, and shouldn't be too expensive!
  • DIY flower decorations - A guaranteed high impact, low effort addition to any party you’re hosting this summer. All you need is some focal flowers, ribbons, balloons, tape and scissors, and you’ll be able to create our stunning posy confetti balloons.
  • Go local! - The seasons are your best friend when using flowers to decorate your summer party. Using local seasonal flowers will not only mean you get the freshest, and most vibrant flowers available, but their appearance and fragrance will also ensure that the summer feeling is ever present at your party.
  • Reuse your flowers afterwards - When the party’s over, that doesn’t mean your flowers are as well! Rosanna says that she’ll arrange the flowers into a bigger bunch for her living room or take them round to the neighbours. We also suggest further creativity and craftiness, by pressing your flowers or drying them out and turning them into art.

Create your own music instead of hiring a band

Create a party playlist before the event which is full of your favourite tunes that are suitable for the big event.  Make sure there's enough to last the event or only loop a couple of times so as people don't get bored of the song choices.  Use a bluetooth speaker to play the music wherever the party is being held and make sure it's fully charged.  


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