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.

Advertisements

Frugal Lessons from Ben Franklin

With Fourth of July coming up, I thought it would be a great time for us to learn some frugality lessons from one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Pat S of Money Crashers has a great article on personal finance and money lessons from Ben Franklin. Here is an excerpt:

1. “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Franklin’s most famous personal finance quote isn’t actually quite accurate. Quantitatively, when you consider that most people calculate their earnings prior to taxes, a penny saved is actually worth more than a penny earned. Why? Because taxes reduce your actual take home pay. If you earn $10 an hour, you will likely only see around $7.50 after taxes. Therefore, if you can cut your expenses by $10, it actually results in saving more than 1 hour’s worth of your take home wage.

  • The lesson: Saving money is the number one key to building wealth and becoming financially successful.

2. “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Investing in yourself is just as important as saving for the future. In fact, although Franklin is also attributed with the saying, “early to bed, early to rise, keeps a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” Franklin was known to frequently burn the midnight oil studying languages which included French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. This gained knowledge served him and the colonies well in his travels soliciting support from the French during the American revolution, paying dividends he could have never expected. Franklin’s life teaches that success is not only born from hard work, but also from diligent study.

  • The lesson: Never stop learning. If you have a chance to take a class, or further your education, go for it. Better yet, study things that interest you on your own time. A library card is free!

3. “Having been poor is no shame, being ashamed of it is.”
Franklin was a self-made man who believed that success was derived through hard work, diligence, and study. His own beginnings were of a humble nature, but he progressed through entrepreneurship and lifelong learning. He never shied away from being honest about who he was or how he came by his success.

  • The lesson: Remembering the crushing weight of debt or poverty might be just the motivation you require to sustain your personal frugality and ensure a better future for yourself and your family.

4. “He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.”
An encyclopedia of personal finance could be written on this quote alone. Frugality, savings, and thrift are one thing, but greed is another matter altogether. The financial crisis which began in 2008 is a prime example. Greed drove billions of dollars into risky and speculative investments such as sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages and mortgage-backed securities which promised impossible returns to investors who were well beyond their depth of understanding but blinded by dollar signs.

  • The lesson: You should be in charge of your money; it shouldn’t be in charge of you.

5. “Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.”
Franklin understood the insidious nature of debt, and firmly believed that it’s better to slash expenses to an extreme level rather than to incur debt in order to afford a lifestyle that is well beyond our means. Certainly, cutting back on essential human needs such as food is a choice that we will ideally not be confronted with any time soon, but this quote reinforces the importance of building an emergency fund.

  • The lesson: Don’t live beyond your means, and get out of debt as quickly as possible.

I hope that you learned a little about frugality and money management from one of our founding fathers. Happy Fourth of July!

Frugal Entertaining: Hosting a Party on a Budget

Summer is the perfect time of year to host a party and with the Fourth of July just around the corner, entertaining is on the mind. 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 (Fall), 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-only party later in the evening.
  • Splurge Strategically: Keep the party menu simple, using as few ingredients as possible. Find an inexpensive main dish, such as pasta, a casserole, or grilled chicken, then splurge on one or two ingredients that will really make a difference. For instance, you might make pasta but choose to add gruyere cheese or some greek olives to add a little opulence to a traditional favorite. Check out frugalfoodiefamily or The Frugal Chef for some fun frugal recipes.
  • Shop Smart: Make sure to check the sales and know what is in season before you get to the store. 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. I once arranged a plate of Chips Ahoy and Oreo cookies and people thought they were eating classy food.
  • Let the Guests Help: Although you may want to do it all yourself, it is a whole lot cheaper if you let your guests help. You might 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, many of your guests will likely ask you if they can bring something. Take them up on this offer. Let them bring a starter, dessert, or bread, something they can easily make or pick up on the way to your party.
  • 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!

If you like these ideas, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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