Frugal Entertaining: Hosting a Party on a Budget

Photo Credit: Jason Barnette Photography

Photo Credit: Jason Barnette Photography

Summer is the perfect time of year to host a party whether it is a backyard BBQ, classic dinner party or a Fourth of July bash! So how do you host a frugal party without looking cheap? Here are some tips for how to entertain without breaking the bank:

  • Choose a Theme: A theme will help you keep the party food and décor cohesive as well as keep you from splurging. You might choose a seasonal theme (Summer), a type of food (Mexican), a holiday (4th of July) or something entirely different. Be creative! Take a look at this wisebread article or my article on hosting a party for some fun party ideas. Also, check out House Party and apply to host a party with some fun freebies.
  • Vary the Time: If you want to host a party, but you’re not sure you can handle a dinner party. Why not throw a brunch party, it is just as fun but a lot cheaper. Or, throw a dessert and drinks or wine and cheese party later in the evening.
  • Splurge Strategically: Keep the party menu simple, using as few ingredients as possible, splurging on a few special  items like an expensive cheese or a signature drink. Use in season ingredients as they are likely to be cheaper and more fresh. Check out frugalfoodiefamily or The Frugal Chef for some fun frugal recipes.
  • Shop Smart: Set a budget and stick to it. If you have trouble with this, bring cash to ensure that you don’t overspend. Have a defined menu in mind, but also have an open mind in case you stumble upon some really good deals.
  • Nail the Presentation: Presentation is everything. Buy inexpensive garnishes such as herbs and fresh fruit, to dress up your plates. Take extra time to arrange your dishes, this makes any dish look more appetizing, even if it is just Oreos.
  • Let the Guests Help: Try a spin on the traditional potluck by assigning each guest a different course according to your theme. If you decide to do most of the cooking yourself, have your guests bring a starter, bread, or a dessert that they can easily pick on the way to your party. If you decide to have a wine + cheese party or a dessert + drinks fête have your guests bring along their favorite drink or mixer.
  • Décor: Use what you have creatively and borrow anything that you don’t have. At my first dinner party I used my grandmother’s china that I inherited and had a friend bring over his inherited china and we alternated place settings. Even though it was mismatched, they looked great together and we both got use out of china that we never use. If you must buy, check the dollar store for napkins, plates, silverware, and décor.
  • Fourth of July: Hosting a Fourth of July party? Check out this wisebread article for some creative party ideas. Take a look at beating broke and kens5 for some delicious and festive recipes. Happy hosting!

Join the Conversation: What are some of your favorite frugal party recipes? Leave a comment on this post.

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2 thoughts on “Frugal Entertaining: Hosting a Party on a Budget

  1. We love hosting parties, but the end bill is always the shocker that keeps us from hosting more.

    We were at a cook-out recently where the host had everyone bring their own meat for the grill. They provided the sides, desserts and fire. Typically the meat is the most expensive part to pulling together a large meal, so this really helped offset their cost. I think it’s something we’ll be trying in the future.

    • I completely agree Sarah! Hosting parties or even having a few people over for dinner is so much fun until you see the bill! I like this idea of bringing your own meat. Thanks for sharing!

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