Styling, catering and decoration ideas to help you throw a fabulous party on a tiny budget.
Hosting a fabulous party doesn't need to drain your bank account. Don't believe me? Try these creative ideas for catering, decoration, and party styling that are sure to impress your guests. If you have an expensive idea, re-consider it with a quality over quantity lens. Focus on keeping things minimal and chic, with dashes of wow factor.
Turn that tiny budget into an unforgettable party...
Ditch the paper invitations
After all, it is the 21st century! Opt for sending custom digital invitations via email instead. You'll find hundreds of beautifully designed, free options on the Internet. The hidden bonus is that it's a million times easier for the guests to RSVP this way. When was the last time you return posted a paper RSVP? A win-win solution for everybody! Of course if you simply adore paper stationery (and why wouldn't you?), here's a two-for-one idea: write your party invitation inside a greeting card. Order one from a collective of independent artists.
Choose a party theme
A well thought out theme seamlessly ties a party together. If you're creatively challenged, or suffering an I'm-too-busy-for-this brain fade, simply start with your invitations and isolate a colour, design, or style choice to repeat throughout your occasion.
If the invitations have a rustic look and feel that includes daisies, you could arrange daisies in recycled glass jars, use yellow and white napkins, and recycle an old lace curtain or piece of jute for a rustic table runner. If you have any leftover, tie a chunky bow for the front door, instead of balloons, to help people find the party address.
DIY when you can DIY
A DIY party decoration is always (always) better looking than a cheap store-bought version. All it takes is an idea and materials you probably already have at home. For a kid's birthday party decorate a cardboard table cover with colors and characters that suit the theme. Get the birthday child involved and you have an afternoon craft project. Later, it can be drawn on while the kids eat. For a more adult occasion fasten strips of ribbon over the front of the music speakers. When you turn up that base they'll bounce all over the place – much like your guests!
Prepare party food bit by bit
When you're entertaining on a budget, expensive multi-course menus are obviously off the list. Fortunately, you can throw a party with great food sans deep pockets. Call it a cocktail party and serve bite-sized edibles that don't compromise on quality ingredients. Get creative with simple layering ideas that look impressive, but are homemade and prepared in advance. Start with a water cracker, layer a thin slice of radish and add a dollop of crème fraiche. Now scatter a fresh herb over the plate, like fennel, and you have a professional looking dish (the secret is to garnish). No caterer needed, just a little preparation on your part. To limit your food costs, plan the occasion outside of a normal eating hour. People won't arrive hungry so your treats won't disappear too quickly.
Offer a signature drink instead of an open bar
Signature drinks are a great way to save money when party planning and keep costs within budget. Unlike an open bar, offering a signature drink is both chic and cheap, if you choose the right liqueur. Get creative and link your signature drink to the theme of the party.
For bartenders, ask if anyone would like to be the star of the show, preparing the signature cocktails. There are always a couple of volunteers, generally with a ‘one for you, two for me' approach! Oh, and remember to provide a non-alcoholic option for guests who don't drink alcohol or are driving home.
Don't buy anything that can be hired
Why buy supplies for a one-off event when you can hire them? This will save you cash and give you even more opportunities to entertain creatively. If you're hosting the party at home, but space is a scarcity, hire a caravan bar to sit in the driveway or garden. Aside from looking extremely cool, this saves precious indoor space and encourages people to mingle outdoors. You can hire additional seating for that outdoor space and even glassware for the bar.
Play music the smart way
Enter technology. Simply load your smartphone with a playlist that will entertain your guests for hours. We recommend securing the phone playing the music to the back of the speakers with tape or putty so guests aren't tempted to skip through the playlist. It can be a fun focus for a few, but your other guests might not enjoy the music stop-starting!
Header Photography: Kristopher Roller