Yesterday, we offered tips for clearing way to throw the perfect New Year’s Eve party. But, some of these tips may seem out of reach if you’re planning a bash on a budget. Fortunately, there are ways to throw a special party without breaking the bank.
“Don’t do what’s expected,” said Richard O’Malley, of The O’Malley Project. “Too many people fall into this trap. They spend way too much of their budget on things that people don’t care about.”
Greg Jenkins, partner at Bravo Productions, recommends throwing a casual affair. “The more formal the affair, the chances are guests are expecting a more high-end meal,” he said. “If you can’t afford to serve a high-end meal, nix the semi-formal and formal dresses.”
Instead, follow these tips money-saving tips:
Email Your Invites
Jenkins recommends sending out email invites or text messages for your party. “The postage to mail invitations can be used for actual party items.”
Plan Ahead and Shop Early
Jenkins says last minute planning will always cost you more in the long run. “You can find great deals if you give yourself enough time,” he said. “In addition, shop for items that can be reused beyond this one function. Look for sales on various beverages. The holidays can provide a lot of bargains on wines, champagnes, beer, etc.”
Use Items You Already Own
“Your bookshelves can be easily turned into your food buffet station,” he said. “You can take an inexpensive picture frame, put fabric into the frame and use this as a serving tray for martinis, champagne or desserts.”
Arrange a Partial Bar
“Provide beer and wine only. And perhaps a signature drink,” said Jenkins. “Avoid hosting a full bar with gin, vodka, scotch, etc. In addition to the expense for alcohol, you’ll need to add mixers to the equation. That adds to the expense.”
You can also ask your guests to bring a beverage of their choice. Even if you don’t ask, many of your guests will bring a bottle of wine or a 6-pack of beer to thank you for having them.
Serve Easy Appetizers
Jenkins said food like mini pizzas, pulled pork sliders and mini grilled cheese sandwiches can be cost-effective. Beware of pre-packaged foods that are already prepared, such as deli trays, he said. “The cost can add up, and it may be just as economical to purchase chicken tenderloins and skewer and grill them yourself.
“Use seasonal vegetables instead of more pricey items that are out-of-season. … And don’t bother with a crudité platter. Ninety percent of the cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, carrots and celery will go uneaten. You can prepare mini salads in small plastic cups with a mini fork. It will save on wasted produce.”
As for desert, Jenkins suggests substituting an expensive mousse dessert for a more traditional and simple chocolate cake, mini cupcakes or just cookies and brownies. “The rule of thumb is that most guests take two bites of dessert and the remainder is tossed.”
A trick for saving money, said Jenkins is using smaller plates. “This step will actually save you money and avoid waste. Guests also are less inclined to pile up food on a small plate.”
Remember, some of your guests may bring snacks or desserts as well, so feel free to buy fewer snacks than you may need.
Décor and Entertainment
Instead of a DJ or a band, use your iPod or Pandora to play music. Use lighting and candles to achieve the desired ambiance instead of a lot of props and theatrical scenery, said Jenkins.
O’Malley said hosts spend big money on table arrangements that people just move out of the way so they can talk. “If you want flowers with punch, have your florist make you a carnation ball with ‘2015’ on it, that you can hang from the ceiling and drop during your countdown. It is different and sassy. People will dig that idea and leave talking about it. A much better use of flowers.”