Make it Count
It may seem like a no-brainer, but determine how much money you actually want to spend and stick to that figure. Coming up with a budget will help you limit your spending to things you really need for the party, so you’ll be less tempted to splurge on unnecessary items, like that custom ice statue or face cake.
Once you’ve settled on a dollar figure, make a detailed list of everything you’ll need. Be as specific as possible when making your list, but make sure to stick to things you need, not things you want. Taking your list along with you while you’re shopping will keep you organized and prevent impulse purchases, allowing you to easily stick to your budget.
Spread the Word
If you’re sending out invitations for a casual party, websites like Evite or Punchbowl are free and do all the heavy lifting for you. For a more formal occasion where printed invitations are appropriate, stay on budget by making them yourself. You can purchase blank invitations for cheap, or make custom invitations and have them printed online at Vistaprint. Save postage by hand-delivering invitations to guests you see regularly.
Set the Mood
No party is complete without decorations, but there’s no need to spend an arm and a leg on them. A little can go a long way in this department, so pick up a few balloons and some streamers at a discount or dollar store. Instead of paying for helium, you can blow up the balloons by mouth and scatter them around your apartment. For nontraditional decorations, visit a local craft store and pick up some artificial flowers to place in vases you already have lying around your apartment, or purchase cheap grocery store carnations and jazz up by placing in a pretty bowl. Or, fill clear vases with water, drop in a few drops of food coloring to match your theme and place small, cheap floating candles inside for a unique centerpiece for a dinner party. If you are throwing a shower or a birthday party for someone, decorate using childhood and current pictures of the guest of honor. You can even make your own decorative bunting with fabric scraps, ribbon and a needle and thread.
Serve it Up
Save money on food by doing the preparation yourself rather than getting it catered or picking up prepackaged snacks. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables and cut them up rather than splurging on an expensive tray, and make your own dips. Or, turn the party into a potluck and have guests bring their favorite dishes while you supply the drinks. A punch-type cocktail like sangria can be made in advance and the ingredients purchased in bulk, which can be a time saver and cheaper than trying to stock a full bar. Purchase soda and water by the case at a discount or wholesale store like Costco, and buy beer by the keg. While it may make cleanup more difficult, using real dishes and utensils that you already own will cut down significantly on your costs.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/khz