What better way to mark the holiday season than throwing a party? It gives you the perfect chance to catch up with family and friends, let your hair down and make some wonderful holiday memories.
Unfortunately people can be put off the idea of organizing a party because of the cost involved at a time of the year where purse strings are already tight, however, it is possible to throw an amazing party on a budget.
Your number one asset when trying to organise a holiday party on the cheap is organisation. When we run out of time and start panicking, throwing money at the situation is usually the solution. How many times have you run out of time to make the homemade nibbles so resorted to expensive store-bought ones? Or realized that you haven’t bought enough drinks so you’ve dashed to the store and picked up the first thing you’ve seen rather than looking for the deals? We all do it from time to time but here are some tips on how to avoid unnecessary expenses and still have the best party ever!
1. Plan It
As soon as you set the date, get planning! Set aside an hour, grab a cup of coffee and a notepad and write everything down from who you’re going to invite, what decorations you are going to put up, what you’re going to eat and which music you are going to boogie to. It can seem a little laborious but it will be worth it in the end.
Once you have worked out all of these details, it is easier to see what you need to organize to avoid the last minute rush. Knowing exact numbers will tell you how many invitations you need, how much food is likely to be needed and whether any special arrangements such as borrowing extra glasses and chairs are needed. Keep your notes handy so that you can add things as soon as you think of them, and keep a careful tally of who is and isn’t able to make it. It can be helpful to put an “RSVP by...” date on your invitations so that once that date has passed, you shouldn’t receive any surprise acceptances.
Decide on a theme for the party. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate but making this simple decision will help focus your thoughts and make sure that you don’t end up buying a whole load of accessories that you don’t wind up using because they don’t match the other things that you have. Something as straightforward as deciding on a colour theme can make the whole party planning process easier.
Take inspiration from some of the many party planning websites. By choosing two or three colours, it can bring everything together and make it look like you have really put some thought into your party planning. The accessories don’t have to be expensive at all: using coordinating paper plates, napkins, tablecloths, and some balloons can make a real statement, whereas using loads of different coloured items can make things look messy. If you want to go down the full themed-party route, early planning is essential to make sure you have enough time to find all of the necessary accessories. A 1920s cocktail party with glamorous diamante details, black tableware, and decadent cocktails is no more difficult to organise than a simple red, green and white party if you plan well.
2. Make It
Some people are put off by the idea of making their party accessories, as they don’t feel they have enough time or that everything might look a little cheap. Nonsense! Take advantage of the current trend for homemade and get making. If you are having a family party, get the children involved. Not only will the children love it, but you won’t find yourself trying to entertain them whilst also making things yourself.
Invitations are an easy item to make, even for people with no crafting experience. Cardstock can be bought cheaply online or at stationers and then it is just a case of letting your imagination go wild! Ink stamps are easy, fun to use and come in every design imaginable from childish to classy; using letters and images cut out of magazines can add a retro feel; and who can resist a bit of glitter decoration?
Whatever design you decide to go for, don’t stop at the invitations. Use the same or similar design to decorate place cards, food labels, thank you notes… The decorations you choose can be as simple or as over the top as you like. Sometimes having multiples of one thing can work well, such as lots of small arrangements of your favourite flower, but having one main decoration with a few small co-ordinating ones work well too. You may want to make your buffet table to main focus and decorate it with balloons, tissue paper pompoms or flowers, then just have a few similar items in other rooms.
Don’t forget to add scented candles into the mix to help create a wonderful festive feeling.
Making your own food and drinks can save a huge amount of money. Many things can be made in advance so it needn’t be a last minute rush. At parties, it is best to remember that people like to graze around the food that is on offer. Because of this, it is a good idea to have plenty of items that are easily picked up and popped into peoples’ mouths.
Bowls of nuts, coloured candies, and pretzels are ideal for that and are relatively inexpensive. Making a huge batch of soup to warm up revellers works well. It can be made in advance then frozen and reheated on the day of the party. Serve in Styrofoam cups with a chunk of bread. Sausage rolls, chipolatas, and chicken goujons can also be frozen then simply cooked before the guests arrive.
Even delicate party food can be simple. Anything can look elegant if in miniature, so some pate on small slices of crusty bread with a drop of chutney on the top or a cracker with a smear of cream cheese and smoked salmon on it can look amazing despite having taken seconds to prepare.
Preparing a huge roast might seem daunting but once it’s in the oven, you can just forget about it – as long as you set the timer on the oven! It makes a wonderful centrepiece on the table. Serve with plenty of accompaniments.
Trying to cater to everyone’s tastes can be difficult, so rather than going out and buying every conceivable type of drink, make a festive punch. With everything mixed together, not only does it taste great, but it also means that you can buy the non-branded versions of the drinks. Serve it in a bowl with a ladle and keep a good stock in the kitchen for top-ups. That leaves you just to buy soft drinks.
3. Use It
The best way to save money is by using the things that you already have. It seems obvious but when you get your frantic party planning head on, it can be easy to forget the things that are all around you. Candlesticks can be brightened up with some tinsel or ivy, and arranging spare Christmas baubles in bowls or tying them up on pretty ribbon can look beautiful and yet cost hardly anything at all.
If you have a garden, use greenery to decorate with a few added colourful sparkles. It I surprising what you can find when you go into party planning mode. Suddenly everything looks as though it can be utilised to make your party the most wonderful one ever.
And don’t forget to use your friends and family! If you know someone who is particularly talented at putting party playlists together or is the keeper of the world’s greatest macaroni recipe, ask them to help out. The chances are that they may be quite flattered that you asked.
4. Research It
The internet is an amazing tool when planning a party. Once you have decided on your theme, look online for some great ideas. Chances are that you’ll find some really extravagant images out there, but look at them plainly and work out what it is that they did to make everything look so good. It’s amazing how some little tricks can make all the difference.
The Internet is also a great resource for finding decorative items and for finding party game ideas to go with your theme. Take time to find the right game for the people you have invited and for your theme, and it could be the icing on your wonderful party cake!
By using these ideas, you should be able to organise the most talked about holiday party in town, just don’t tell them how much it cost you to organise; that’s our little secret!