Knowing how to throw a party can be difficult, as many young people worry about getting it perfect so that friends and colleagues leave still talking about it days and, in some cases, weeks later. When considering the price it can cost to throw a party that hits everything a host is looking for, it can only add even more stress.
Fear not, though, because parties aren’t brain surgery. If you want to throw a party that your friends will be talking about for months but you don’t have a big budget, we’ve got you covered. You can still show your guests a great time if you use a little creativity and planning — and that’s where some of these ideas come into play.
Start With Fun Invitations
Set the tone for your party by sending invitations with style. If your guest list isn’t too long and you have the time, send paper invitations by snail mail. When was the last time someone did that? Or, send digital invitations using a platform like Evite. Choose settings that let people see who’s invited and who’s coming, but make sure you have a few buddies who RSVP “yes” right away to get the ball rolling.
If you’re using emails or texts, make sure they got through by asking for an RSVP by a specific date and sending a followup invite to everyone who hasn’t responded by that date.
Put Together An Interesting Menu
Don’t bore your guests with pizza and wings. You don’t need a caterer to lay out a table of unique, interesting, great-tasking heavy appetizers.
Check out the frozen foods section of your grocery store. You’ll find lots of interesting international choices:
- Mini Chimichangas
- Quesadilla Quarters
- Jalapeno Poppers
- Egg Rolls
- Spring Rolls
- Crab Rangoon
- Pot Stickers
- Crab Balls
- Mini Quiche
Have plenty of sauces, dips, melted cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa to pair with your food.
If you want to stick with one cuisine, try a Tex-Mex bar. Lay out crispy taco shells, tortillas and taco bowls. Present two big bowls of seasoned ground beef and shredded chicken. Put out bowls of yellow rice and black beans or frijoles. Have plenty of diced onions and tomatoes, shredded lettuce, jalapenos, salsa, quacamole, sour cream, queso and olives. And, remember, you can cut your food costs in half if you buy generic or house brand items instead of brand name foods — which should help keep your overall monthly expenses low.
Have pitchers of margaritas and tequila shots available. Cayman Jack makes individual margaritas and mojitos in bottle and cans.
Lay Out The Table Right
Don’t use plain dishes or paper plates to serve your buffet. If you need to, ask a few close friends (or your mom) for serving dishes, bowls and baskets that will make your food look even more inviting. Line bowls and baskets with decorative napkins (not paper towels) to absorb oils from fried appetizers.
Choose a nice tablecloth and have a centerpiece that fits your food theme or the party’s theme. If you’re having a holiday or game-watching party, put some effort into your table decorations.
Finally, imagine how people will be congregating at the table and serving themselves and make sure you have enough room for people to circulate. If you’ve got a small pad and want to lay your food items throughout the main room, make sure each table is stable, easy to reach and clean.
Keep The Bar Simple
Limit what you serve, but serve it well. Stick with two or three standard liquors, but have plenty of mixers, fruit, straws, stirs, ice and glasses. Check out our blog post on great cheap wines for less than $10 per bottle (many around $3).
Set up an attractive coffee and fruit juice bar. Add some shaved chocolate and upscale creamers to add to your coffee. Send an email to your friends to see if anyone has an espresso machine you can borrow for the evening.
Manage The Room’s Flow
Take a look at your furniture. Will people be squeezing past each other all night because your couch is too close to cocktail table? Make it easy to get from the food table to your bar, deck or main seating area by moving or removing certain pieces of furniture.
Will everyone in the room be able to see the TV, or will there be a glare from some areas? Turn on the same lights you’ll have the night of your party to check things out in advance.
Make sure there are one or two areas that invite people to talk in groups. Try angling and facing seating towards each other the night of your party.
Choose The Right Music
Create a playlist for your party that takes into account who’s coming, and what mood you want to create — there are plenty already available on apps like Spotify. Create a flow to your evening by having your tunes move from modern to old school and from up-tempo to laid back.
A few days before the party, listen to your music on the same player in the same room as you’ll use the night of your bash. You don’t want to drown out one group of guests while people on the other side of the room can barely hear the tunes.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Don’t wait until the last minute to clean your place. If you find it’s taking too much time, you might have to stop, leaving your guests to find some nasty surprises. Take plenty of time to clean everywhere in your bathrooms. Move your furniture when you vacuum and use the attachments if you have to get to hard-to-reach places. Check the ceilings for cobwebs. And, if you don’t have time to do it yourself, don’t be afraid to drop $50 or so on an on-demand cleaning service like Handy.
Dress For Success
If you want your party a bit more upscale, set a dress code. Add a “no jeans” or “no flip flops” note on your invitations. Everyone will get the message not to show up looking like they just finished cleaning the garage.
It will also make your party seem a bit more desirable and heighten anticipation. Make sure you’re dressed to the nines the evening of the party. A host can never be too stylish. Guys, think about a haircut and a proper shave the night of your shindig.
Planning Makes Perfect
The main factor in the success of a budget (or any) party is the planning. Give yourself enough time to make your evening special for everyone who comes and you’ll make sure everyone has what they need for a great time.
If you get know for throwing great bashes, you’ll not only get more people coming to your future get-togethers, you’ll find yourself getting invited to more parties.
Lead image via Pexels