Throwing a party – whether it’s to celebrate a birthday, engagement, wedding, or for no reason at all – doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. If you want to get your family and friends together without breaking the bank, there are many ways to plan a great party on a tight budget.
We’re going to do the ultimate party planning showdown! Here’s a list of the usual big-ticket expenses, and some budget alternatives we can recommend.
- Splurge: Rent a party space
- Save: Hold it at home
Where you hold your party can make or break your budget. For bigger celebrations with dozens of guests, you’d probably need to rent out an event space to accommodate everyone. However, if you’re planning a small get-together, consider hosting your party at home or in your backyard! Crossing the venue of the list will save you big bucks that you can use to splurge on food or drinks instead.
- Splurge: Dinner
- Save: Brunch, mid-afternoon, or after dinner
Timing is absolutely everything. If your party overlaps with lunch or dinner time, your guests will expect a meal. Go for brunch or in the afternoon instead, or better yet, just host a post-dinner party! That way, you can trust that your guests will have already eaten, and all you will have to worry about is drinks and maybe a few appetizers or snacks.
- Splurge: Paper
- Save: Electronic
Tangible, paper invites are always lovely to get, but they might not always be necessary. Save the fancy, expensive invitations for major milestones like weddings, engagements, baby showers, or 75th birthdays.
For smaller-yet-still-special events, send out electronic invites instead. You’ll have a wide range of options for every mood, from fun to quirky to elegant. Even more casual parties like a spontaneous dinner or weekend hangout can make do with a quick (and free) Facebook event page.
- Splurge: Catering
- Save: Potluck
Next to venue, food usually takes up the biggest part of your budget. As a host, you want to make sure your guests are well taken care of. But unless it’s a party with dozens or even hundreds of guests, paying for professional catering is often an unnecessary expense!
You can save a ton of money by cooking small meals or appetizers for your guests, and asking them to bring side dishes, desserts, or drinks. Your first potluck will always feel a little awkward (especially if you’re used to providing every single little detail), but trust me, your guests are usually more than happy to help out.
- Splurge: Open bar
- Save: Signature cocktail
Nothing gets an adult party going like some alcohol, but stocking your bar with every drink and liquor imaginable will cost you a pretty penny. You don’t need to have the same drink variety as your local bar to have a good party. Craft a special one-night-only cocktail that you can serve throughout the night, plus a non-alcoholic option for your friends who can’t drink. You’ll only have to buy ingredients for that one drink, significantly cutting costs.
- Splurge: Buy from a store
- Save: Make it yourself
What sets a regular hangout with your friends from a real party is the decorations. Decking out your venue with a theme or color palette breathes life into your celebration and sets the tone for the whole party. There are tons of affordable party stores that sell balloons, decorative tablecloths, and other accent pieces that will add brightness and color to your event.
You can also make your own party decorations at home. Get the supplies from a craft store for super cheap, and get out your creative side to work. Not only will you spend way less, but you’ll also impress your guests with your art skills!
- Splurge: DJ
- Save: Playlist
It can’t be overstated how important music is to a party. It sets the mood, and the vibe can seriously change with different music. While you might want to get a DJ for celebrations like weddings, you can achieve the same results (but for free!) with a well-curated playlist.
Decide on what kind of music you’ll be playing beforehand. Think about what ambiance you’re going for – is it light and chill, dark and heavy, upbeat and dancey? Try and get enough songs that it lasts the whole party, so that your guests don’t have to listen to the same few songs on repeat.
- Splurge: Buying the equipment
- Save: Hiring a photobooth rental
What better way to create fun memories and preserve them—at the same time—than a photobooth? These are perfect for any occasion and any group, even celebrities love this party trend! You might think that DIY-ing your photobooth will save you money, but if you add up the costs of buying the equipment and setting it up, you’ll realize you’re actually much better off leaving it to the professionals.
A photo booth rental can come at a wide range of price points, there’s definitely one that can fit your budget out there. Your guests will enjoy posing with the fun props, and they’ll even get to take home a little souvenir as well.