I love to throw a party, especially in the summer, when my husband and I can invite people over to grill and enjoy our small Philly yard.
While having a party is a great way to spend time with our friends, it can also get expensive, particularly when my husband and I pay for all the food and drinks.
Over the years, we’ve learned the ins and outs of planning a party without depleting our bank account too much or busting our budget.
If you want to throw a party this summer, here are a few tips to help you have a great time without hurting your wallet.
Go the Potluck Route
Food can be the most expensive part of planning a party. Holding a potluck picnic or summer dinner party is the easiest way to host a party on a budget without looking like you are on a budget.
Depending on your circle of friends, a potluck party can mean you end up with an assortment of delicious, well-made dishes.
Of course, if your friends aren’t cooks, you might end up with several tubs of grocery store pasta salad and multiple bags of chips.
You know your friends best and whether or not they’ll be able to deliver the food needed to hold a great potluck.
Shop the Sales
Give yourself time to plan the party, so that you have time to purchase food when it’s on sale.
Grocery stores typically mark down picnic foods around the big summer holidays, such as Independence Day and Memorial Day. If you plan a party around those days, if not on them, you can really luck out at the store.
Even if your party doesn’t take place on or near a holiday, you can still stock up at the sales. You can freeze meat for later use or purchase dry goods on sale and keep them in your pantry.
A party on a budget doesn’t have to revolve around a meal. You’ll save a considerable amount of money if you hold the party later in the evening, after people have had a chance to eat dinner.
Your post-dinner party can be a dessert party, a cocktail party or a simple drinks and snacks event.
Keep the Drinks Simple
If you’re holding a party for adults, you might want to serve alcohol. You don’t have to purchase top-shelf liquor to impress your guests.
Mid-price range brands are usually sufficient for a party, especially if you’re serving mixed drinks. There’s no point in investing in pricey vodka or gin if you’re going to dilute it with tonic water.
When planning a party on a budget, you might also consider serving beer or wine in place of cocktails or hard liquor.
Beer is typically cheaper than liquor, and you don’t have to worry about investing in mixers or add-ins such as cherries or lemons. In most places, you can get a case or two of beer for less than $50.
Another option is to hold a potluck drinks party.
Instead of asking guests to contribute a dish, ask each to bring their favorite bottle of wine, beer, or spirit. People who don’t drink alcohol can bring their favorite soda or other beverage.
Asking people to bring their own drinks takes the guesswork out of party planning for you while reducing the cost of the party significantly.
Keep the Party Small
You don’t have to invite the entire neighborhood to have a great party.
If your budget is a big concern, keep the party size on the small side. Invite eight or 10 people instead of 20 or 30, for example. You’ll end up spending considerably less on food and drinks.
You also won’t have to worry about the party getting out of hand.
Do you have any summer party plans?
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.