Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guest Post: Hosting a Party on a Budget

Hey all! We're VERY excited to have the lovely Alysia from Prost to the Host write a post on how to host a fabulous party on a small budget! Prost to the Host is a blog that features everything lovely and fresh in the world of entertaining! Make sure to check it out - she has a beautiful site and fantastic ideas! Thanks Alysia!

Hello beautiful! I am Alysia from Prost the Host, LLC and I organize parties and weddings in my spare time. Budget is the number one factor in determining a celebration. While the economy is slowing picking up, people are still cautious with spending and it seems everyone is on a budget. One can still have a fabulous celebration without busting the bank. As we get closer to the holidays, there are many opportunities to host. The cost to host can add up quickly if one is not careful. Here are a few tips on cutting costs without trimming the fabulous.

Time is NOT on our side
The biggest factor in overspending during a celebration is how much time you spend planning the event. Not having enough time will cause one to pay for convenience by paying expedited shipping costs, buying prepackaged food and shopping for items without price comparisons. Timing is truly of essence when you are trying to keep within a budget. If a Fourth of July party is your annual party, be mindful of the sales associated with after holiday sales and stock up for the following year. Discounts are often as high as 90% for post-holiday sales.

Budget Cuts
Determine what factor is most important to you and adjust the budget. By choosing one or two areas of importance, it will enhance the overall party and make you feel like you are not scrimping on every aspect.
*Use evites or emails to invite your guests rather than mailing invitations. If paper invitations are important, opt for printing your invitations at home or Kinko's.
*Decorations are only necessary if you have a theme. To avoid extra costs, plan your fete in locale with interest. Parks and backyards are naturally pretty and don't need much, while a gym or rental space may require more to dress up. To add a bit of drama, use candles to warm a space. Tealights come in bulk and are an inexpensive and chic way to add depth and drama without going overboard on decorations. Bring the outdoors in! Create fruit centerpieces, branches with fall leaves or herbs such as wheat grass and rosemary. Growing your own herbs is simple and an affordable way to dress up a table and branches from your yard are free.
*Know your area. Flowers from local farms are cheaper than grocery stores and florists. Being aware of the season will help gauge what is actually growing and available since out of season tulips and orchids are beyond expensive.
*If you host often, invest in buffet dishes and bulk glassware to avoid constant disposable purchases. This is an eco-friendly option that will save you green in the long run. Ikea has dishes as low as $0.79, also check out World Market, TJ Maxx etc for glassware.





Eat, Drink and Be Frugal
*If offering alcoholic drinks, stick to a simple bar. A beer and wine bar are acceptable options. Or add a liquor drink to go along with the theme. Keeping the mixers and ingredients simple will limit the costs involved.
*Search for beer distribution warehouses in your area. For example, Columbia Distributing (http://www.columbia-dist.com/Contact-Us.aspx) offers discounted beer and wine. Call ahead for selection options and times. In addition, in the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to have such an abundance of distilleries and breweries. Which means, in terms of beer, buying in bulk (e.g. half barrels, pony kegs etc), are more cost effective than purchasing cases.
*If wine is of great importance, join your favorite winery and receive member-only discounts. Or buy 6 bottles or more from your local grocery for the "bulk" discount. Don't forget to check out Trader Joe's and World Market for delicious and nominally priced vinos.
*There is no shame in a BYOB party.
*Food costs are a hidden expenditure that can quickly add up. Avoid meal times and offer appetizers and finger foods instead. Skip the pre-made, deli and packaged food aisles. Making the dish from scratch is often cheaper.
*Know your crowd. If you have a meat/potatoes crowd, skip the crudité platter as it will just go to waste.
*Presentation is important! Single servings look more visually stimulating than mountains of food.



Coupons, Sales and Discounts Oh My!
*If purchasing items off the internet, search for free shipping or discount codes prior to purchase. Every store has a coupon, you just need to find it.
*Sign up for store's email lists and receive discounts and coupons for members-only. Only sign up for shops you truly enjoy or your email will fill will spam. My favorite party one-stop shop is World Market as they frequently offer 25% off coupons.
*Check out the library for the Sunday newspaper and see if the coupons are worthwhile. Then purchase your own copy.
*Everyone has a website. Check out your favorite brands' websites for their manufacturer coupons and pair with your grocery "double" coupon for double savings.



Hidden Gems
We are creatures of habit. We go to the same shops and often forget of other retail options. Mix up the routine and check out these stores for affordable loot. Always check out the clearance aisle!

Craft Stores: Michael's, Joanns - always have online and newspaper coupons
Home Improvement Stores: Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowes
Discount Chains: TJ Maxx, Ross, Dollar Stores
Online: Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, Plum Party, Bake It Pretty
Clothing Stores: CB2, Urban Outfitters

Details, Details, Details
The little details really make a party stand out from the rest. These inexpensive ideas will take your party to the next level.
*Add some DIY flair to you food and drinks with food tags made of leftover paper and ribbon.
Patterned fabric cut in placemats make a table pop with color.
*If you don't have a theme, pick a color scheme. Color can bring all the elements of the party together. Color specific drinks, food and decorations have a powerful impact.

Best of luck! If you host a party and want to share with me, email me (prosttothehost@gmail.com). In the end, there is nothing shameful about living within one's means. As long as the guests are happy, it was successful. A prost to you, the party planner! Cheers!

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