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How to throw a party on a budget — and have it still be a hit

If you love entertaining but don’t have lots of extra room in your budget to do it, fear not! It’s not only possible to throw a party on a budget, but it’s incredibly easy to do, provided you know a few simple workarounds. You cut costs everywhere from the invitations (evite is free and paperless) to your dessert (store-bought dark chocolate brownie mix can go a long way). 

While your true friends aren’t really going to care what food you serve or how fancy your decorations are, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t still aim to wow them on a budget.

dinner party
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How to throw a party on a budget

Accept help

When friends ask what they can bring to the party, be prepared with an answer. Determine in your planning what you’d like to pass off to some of your guests to handle.

  • Ask friends to bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer so you can take alcohol off your shopping list.
  • Pass off the dessert course to your friends, focusing your energy on the buffet foods or appetizers.
  • Tell dinner party guests what you’ll be serving as the main course, and encourage them to bring their favorite side dish. 
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Guests want to contribute and they likely will bring something to the party, whether you expect them to or not, so give them some parameters to ensure they bring something useful. 

Paper vs. china — the great debate

You can get paper plates and napkins at your neighborhood dollar store and spend next to nothing. For a more upscale event, you can bite the bullet and invest in glass buffet plates so you’ll never have to buy or use paper products again. It will cost you more now, but in the long run, you’ll save money every time you host a party. It’s better for the environment than single-use products, too! 

Entertainment made easy — and cheaply, too

  • Put together a playlist of your favorite tunes, hook your phone up to a Bluetooth speaker, and get ready to dance the night away. 
  • A lively game of Kahoot is sure to keep everyone entertained. This group trivia is popular in elementary school classrooms, but this game is fun for all ages and can really liven up any party. The app is free to download, and you can play it right on your smart TV. 
  • Dust off your board games and organize an old-fashioned game night, using games you already own or can borrow from a friend. 

How to throw a cheap party and still feed your guests

Stretch your food budget

A food buffet, whether it be of appetizers or main course offerings, gives you the opportunity to really stretch your food spending dollars. Buffets allow you to offer several food options, mixing in more economical choices with a few more expensive items. For example, you can make deviled eggs, which are incredibly affordable, and pair them with cocktail meatballs, which you can pick up frozen at your local grocery store. Platters with cheese, crackers, bread, and dips can also help you save money, filling up your guests without spending a lot of money.

For standard food buffets, pasta is one of the most inexpensive yet filling dishes! A pound of pasta can cost less than a dollar, and all you have to do is add some flavorful sauce and a crunchy green salad to ensure your guests will be full and satisfied. 

Manage your alcoholic beverages

While having an unlimited bar stock would be great, purchasing enough liquor for an entire party can become very expensive very quickly. To entertain on a budget, stick with the two mainstays: wine and beer. Additionally, you can create one “signature cocktail” for the event, which will give your event an air of sophistication and limit the number of bar ingredients you need to have on hand. Make a pitcher or two ahead of time before your guests arrive so you can focus your time and energy on other hosting duties. Looking for a great signature cocktail to try? We love this refreshing Rosemary Greyhound that’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Hosting a party is always enjoyable, and if you follow our tips and advice it can be affordable, too. Cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting down on fun. Be creative and embrace pot-luck-style gatherings to throw a budget-friendly party that’s certain to be a hit!

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Kim Renta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kim has written for Bloomingdales, Movado, and various e-commerce wine sites. When she's not writing about wine and…
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