In a day and age where everyone is so busy, we really need to take the time to slow down and reconnect with others. And what better way to do that then by hosting a party? These are some of my suggestions for Party Planning on a Budget. Whether it is a potluck dinner or appetizers and wine, I’ve put together a Party Kit that is both affordable and versatile for any occasion. I absolutely love going the extra mile to make my guests “ooh” and “aah” over the décor when I have people over. While most people are coming for the company (and maybe the food), here are a few items I have to help me when I entertain.
White Dishes: This is a great starting point for any dinner. White dishes make your food look fantastic and will match with any color scheme you have picked for your party. You can easily dress up white dishes with napkins from the dollar/discount store! I purchased large square plate which can be used to eat on as well as serving dishes for party appetizers or cookies for my Cookie Christmas Party. My guests have commented many times about how they enjoy my square plates as they can fit more food on them.
Clear Glass Ware: I am constantly on the look out for unique, inexpensive vases, dishes, candle holder, etc at the local thrift shops and discount stores. Keep in mind you do not need to use the dish for it’s indented purpose. Fill it up with holiday themed candy, rock salt and a scented candle, leaves, pinecones, flowers – anything! Take a walk in your back yard or neighbourhood to see what’s available for free. Clear glass ware is so easy to customize for the theme of a party. Print up some specialized signs from your computer and decorate your glass ware with the signs. Buy ribbon from the discount store for an added splash of color.
Candles: I find candles add a special element to any gathering. It seems to put people at ease and adds an certain elegance. If you’d like to invest in some large pillar candles that will be around for a while I suggest you choose white so they will easily coordinate with any theme. If you also have white serving dishes, white candles will look intentional. White candles also tend to be cheaper and easier to find.
Wine Glasses: I recently purchased two dozen wine glasses for a wine party I held. They were purchased at the discount store for $1.25. No one would know the difference but party budget did. I purchased the larger sized ones and I’m so happy I added them to my collection. I don’t use them for just wine. I serve all types of drinks in them and people love being served non-alcoholic drinks in them as they feel like they are still getting a special treat. The glasses can also be prettied up by tying a wide ribbon around the stem, filling them with bulk candy or floating a candle in water in the glass.
Mason jars: There are so many possible ways to use mason jars when you are entertaining. From storing party food in them (like salads, dressings, and appetizers), to serving drinks in the jars, to decorating your table by filling the jars with utensils, napkins, flowers or even candle. Mason jars are truly invaluable and totally fit within my party planning budget.
Cookware: Do you have a favorite party recipe you like to make each time you have company over? Perhaps your friends and family always request you bring a particular dish to a potluck. Watch for sales and invest in a beautiful serving dish to use. You would also be surprised what you will find at Yard Sales too! And never underestimate your local thrift store. Some of my favourite low-cost recipes to feed a crowd include:
- cheese cappelletti
- shepherd’s pie
- chicken cordon bleu casserole
- hot tamale pie with corn bread topping
- slow cooker sweet’n sour meatballs
Serving Dishes: Pick a theme for your serving dishes and stick with it. You don’t have to go crazy all at once and break the bank. Be a smart shopper and keep your eyes open for that special dish that jumps out at you that will be a lovely addition to your collection. This would also make an excellent gift at Christmas or for your birthday.
Stainless Steel or Aluminum: Aluminum containers can be expensive, so watch your thrift shops and discount stores for these. And use your imagination. Containers can be repurposed for just about anything. Before I started to host parties, I had purchased some adorable little aluminum pails at the discount store for $1.00 each. I bought 5 with the intention of using them in my hobby room to store pens and markers. They never made it that far. I’ve used them to serve treats, napkins, forks/knives, etc. They work beautifully for any party and when I want to co-ordinate them with a theme, I tie some coloured ribbon around the pails.
Table Clothes: Table dressings are the base to any party table and can add the biggest contribution to the theme of a party. I purchased in a long white table clothe for my table from a store that was going out of business. Then I watched my local thrift shops for smaller table clothes I could layer on top for a punch of color. Even multiple linen napkins could be used as accent pieces. Simple, easy and very affordable! If you’re looking for long rectangular table clothes, a flat twin sized bed sheet also works great and are usually a fraction of what you would pay for a table clothe.
White Christmas Lights: I purchased some Christmas lights over 9 years ago at the end of the holiday season. They were steeply discounted since it was the end of the season. Those white lights have participated in over 5 weddings, countless anniversary parties, Christmas parties and regular party events. I’ve used in my back yard during the summer to provide light at BBQ parties and hung them behind shear curtains in my house to add a soft glow to the party area year round. I can’t speak more highly of white lights. They are so versatile.
Folding Chairs: If your party turns into a standing room only party, you know you’ve had a successful party. If you’d like to make sure your company has a place to sit without always having a lot of bulky furniture around your house, this is the perfect inexpensive solution. Have a special storage place for them – even under your bed. Take them out only when you need them and put them back into hiding when you’re done. They are great for your backyard as well as indoors.
Repurpose what you have: This is one of the most frugal suggestion I can give. Take a walk around your house and see what you already have. Turn crates upside down to use as tables, bring your folding lawn chairs in the house and drape a blanket over them and add a pillow or fill a kiddy pool or wheel barrow with ice to serve drinks in. Get creative and the possibilities are endless.
One of my favourite parties I’ve ever hosted was for a Wine Tasting Party. In this post, I share my tips for hosting your own wine tasting party. It certainly would be the ultimate way to celebrate New Years Eve!
Last words of advice: watch for the sales, check out the thrift or discount stores and visit yard sales to see what you can find. Get yourself a large Tupperware container where you can store everything and when you’re having company over, pull it out and start decorating. If your collection will not fit in one container, keep it organized by theme and label the outside of the container so you know which one to reach for when you need something. Did I miss something? I’ve love to hear your party planning on a budget suggestions!!
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