A good rule of thumb to follow when setting a budget for your party is to estimate what you think you’re going to spend, double that number and you’ll have a more realistic figure.
Parties always cost more than you think they will. As you begin to budget, decide what you can’t live without—your “must-have” items. Put those items at the top of your budget knowing you may have to compromise on other things. You need a party plan and a shopping list to keep you from going over budget. You know how it goes—you head to the store and think to yourself--- “I think I have the right tablecloth, but I should get this one just in case. I can always take it back later.” Then you don’t use it or take it back. In fact, I’ll bet it is in the closet with the price tag still on it. So the best tip for saving money on your next party is to stick to a list when shopping for your party. Don’t pick up any “I might need this” items that aren’t on your list and you’ll keep your budget intact. You can also shave a little off the top with these tips.
1. GET SOME HELP
Many people don’t hire planners because they think it adds to the bottom line. In fact, a planner can make suggestions and recommendations that will actually save money, time, and mistakes so they are well worth the cost. My good friend Lori Stephenson at LOLA Event Productions in Chicago always comes up with clever, unique ideas that are extremely cost effective. It’s her job. If it’s not your job, get someone like her (or me) to help you and you’ll save yourself money and headaches.
2, PLAN AHEAD
The more time you have to plan, the more time you can take to source the items you need. If you allow time to compare prices and quality, you’ll be less likely to make impulsive decisions which could add to the bottom line.
3. CUT DOWN ON THE NUMBERS
Think about it this way, for every guest you have to eliminate, you save money. Suddenly, the chore of cutting down the guests list just got easier. Cut ten guests at $25 per person and you’ve saved $250.
4. THE RIGHT PLACE
No matter if you are renting a venue or have the party at home, you need to think about what you’ll need to pull off the party in terms of space, kitchen, and cooking facilities. If you have to bring in tents, ovens, refrigeration units, etc., the costs can explode and kill your budget. Check with the caterer before booking a venue to determine the additional rental supplies required.
5. TAKE THE DAY OFF
Book your party on an “off day” for caterers, venues, florists, etc. You’ll be able to negotiate better if you book your party on any day other than Saturday.
6. BAR NONE
Serving a signature cocktail rather than having an open bar looks festive and will save some dollars. You can squeeze 20+ drinks (depending on recipe and serving size) from one large bottle of premium vodka. This is also a an easy way to monitor and control the amount of alcohol served.
7, START THINGS OFF RIGHT
Guests are always hungry when they arrive at a party or event. By serving several inexpensive appetizers as guests arrive, you’ll curb their appetite and can lighten up on the main menu.
8. DON'T DO ME ANY FAVORS
Every magazine shows pictures of celebrity parties with loads of swag. Your guests don’t expect to go home with favors. It’s a nice touch, but certainly something you can eliminate if your budget is already strained.
9. MAKE SOME MUSIC
If you have a good selection of tunes on your MP3, make a mix to last the length of your party and pass on hiring a DJ or band. You’ll never get the impact you would have with live entertainment, but if your budget is tight it is a viable alternative.
10. USE WHAT YOU HAVE
If you look at my various party profiles, you’ll see that I often use both food and beverages as décor. Brightly colored and filled glasses stacked on trays are not only welcoming to a party guest, they are pretty, too. Use lemons, limes, apples, or other food items like tiers of cupcakes as decorations. Just about any type of food or beverage can be creatively presented using unique vessels and lighting so that your food doubles as your décor. All of the top caterers use food to make a statement. You can easily accomplish the same thing by thinking creatively about presentation and display of your food and beverages.