One of the most commonly asked questions about party hosting is "how can I host a cheap party?"
There's no two ways about it - parties can be expensive. And in this day and age of everyone trying their best to out-do one another (ugh, so annoying *eye-roll*) there is a common (mis)conception that a party must be bigger and better and cost a lot of money to be a success.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A party can be an absolute hit even with the absolute minimum money spent on it.
So here are my top ten tips for hosting a successful party on a budget. Let's go!
1. Set a Budget
Setting a party budget - boring? A little. Necessary? A lot.
Before commencing any plans for your party, it is good practice to first decide on what you are willing to pay for the entire celebration.
Although setting a budget may not in the least be any fun, it is important to do it first (and get it over and done with!). Many of your choices for the party, such as venue, catering and entertainment, will be based primarily on cost.
If you get lazy and avoid setting a budget, then you could end up spending way more money than you want to. No party is worth going broke!
When you know how much you have to spend on everything, then making decisions along the way will be easier.
First, give yourself a ballpark figure. Then figure out which parts of your event will incur a cost, and note down some estimates of what you can spend on each. This is a first step that you can continue to refine along the way, as you speak with vendors and get a more accurate telling of your budget.
Budgeting tools don’t have to be fancy - handwritten notes will suffice. If you are tech-savvy, you may like to use spreadsheets instead, but it is not imperative.
We have a FREE Party Planner for you to download, that contains budgeting lists. Download it by clicking on the image below!
2. Set the Funding
A great tip that people rarely consider for partying on a budget, is to save for it in advance. If you know that you will be hosting a big party in a few months' time, begin putting away some money for it now.
How you do this is a personal choice, but even if your party fund is built from simply throwing your loose change into a jar, it will certainly help with the party budget.
3. Set your Priorities
When you're in the midst of planning a party, it is all too easy to become swept up in the whole experience, and lose touch with what really matters. If you get too caught up in the details, you may lose sight of the big picture.
The truth is that your party guests are very unlikely to notice any tiny details, so avoid spending any money on tiny extras that nobody will even acknowledge. Guests won't realise that you forgot to dust the celebration cake with 18 carat gold, or care that you served disposable napkins instead of the couture Egyptian cotton ones.
And if they do, they're not worth inviting in the first place.
It sounds a bit unpolished, but as long as your guests are fed, watered and entertained, they won't sweat the small stuff. And neither should you.
Save yourself some money (and stress!) and just include the important and necessary details at your party.
4. Set your Time
You may or may not be aware that the timing of your party can cost or save you money.
You can save on your costs by not serving a full meal. If you plan to serve cake only, hold your party two hours before or one hour after traditional meal times, so your guests won't arrive or go home hungry.
After lunch or before dinner can be a good time to party, when guests don't expect a full meal. Perhaps plan your party to run between 2pm and 5pm, or after dinner.
5. Set the Menu
Party food can take up a huge chunk of your party budget, especially if you have a large amount of guests coming.
Nobody is going to expect a-la-carte, so to simplify things, if you’ve got something savoury, something sweet, possibly some fruit, and a birthday cake, then you’re all sorted.
A good tip for saving money on party food, is to serve low cost food that goes a long way. If you are serving a main meal, opt for meals such as pasta, rice dishes, casseroles and stews. This way, you can more easily feed a lot of people with just one or two dishes.
If your budget doesn’t allow for professional catering, perhaps ask family members or friends if they can help you to cater. You don’t have to go to too much trouble - simple food is often the best.
The best way to do this is to go potluck - everyone brings a plate. This works well if you supply the meals, and guests bring snacks and desserts.
The Cake. If you’re up for it, making the cake yourself is much cheaper than hiring a professional and can be a lot of fun. If you’re stuck for ideas, a search online for themed cake ideas will leave you having trouble choosing one!
A simple recipe is best - a good old butter cake or chocolate cake is all you need. And don’t feel guilty about using a packet cake, if it will make things easier on yourself.
6. Set the Liquids
Alcohol is often one of the most expensive party items. If you will be serving alcohol, you can save on costs by serving just one kind of alcohol, such as beer.
Then, if guests wish to drink something other than what you are serving they will (in most cases) be happy to bring their own.
7. Set the Limits
A good tip for partying on a budget, is to let your party guests know exactly what you are providing. This is usually done on your party invitations, or with a small note included with the invites.
This way, guests know what they will need to bring if they so choose. And they won't get any nasty surprises when they show up hungry and expecting a three-course-meal.
For example, you could say something like the following:
"We will be serving beer and wine. Please bring your own spirits."
"Supper will be served. Please have dinner before attending."
Need more tips on wording your party invitations? Click here for our tips.
8. Set the Venue
Your choice of party venue may be largely determined by your budget. If you are on a tight budget, a home party is the solution.
The biggest plus to hosting a party at home is affordability. Home parties are usually less expensive than hired venues. Another benefit is being able to hold the party at whatever time suits your family and guests.
If you cannot host at home, hiring your party space from a local playgroup can save you a bucket load of cash. For a small fee you can have access to all of the playgroup facilities and equipment. You may also be able to hire out a room or hall from a local church or club for a lower cost than other venues.
Also, consider the absolute maximum number of people that you can have in attendance, in regards to space and budget. Stick to a guest list under that number.
9. Set the Scene
To keep within your budget, simple invitations and party décor are the best choice.
If you prefer to go green by saving on paper, or you are on a strict party budget, you may like to go with sending out your invitations electronically. Some e-vite services are free, or very cheap.
If you are crafty and have the time, you can save a ton on invitations by creating your own. Another affordable solution is to purchase pre-made invitations from your local news agency, department store or supermarket.
The printable party invitations that we offer at are inexpensive and a great DIY option, whilst still looking professional. See our collection of invitations here.
The decorations you choose for your party can be simple when on a strict budget. Take a look around your own home – you may already own objects that you will be able to decorate with, such as themed props, vases, boxes, art items etc. Anything that fits in well with your party theme can be included. Also consider borrowing items from friends and family for the occasion.
If you must buy for your party, items such as balloons and streamers make a great impact without breaking the bank. Discount party suppliers are invaluable for accessing cheap pieces that look great. A good tip is to choose one or two colours and decorate with those.
Paper lanterns and fans are cost-effective, quick and easy decorations that provide a great impact for less effort. They look just perfect when they are hung in groups from the ceiling. You can also add strings of beads or tassels for extra impact.
A cheap, quick and easy way to add pops of colour to your party tables is with candy jars. Fill clear jars with lollies and pop some ribbon around the top, and you’re done. Group your jars together for the best effect.
A simple method of dressing up tables is to layer tablecloths. Start with a white layer first, then add a coloured plastic table cloth and finish with a runner for yet more colour and depth. Wrapping paper makes great table runners.
You can also layer up paper or plastic plates with coloured place mats and napkins in the same way.
Party printables, such as those from , help you to create a beautifully coordinated and personalised party venue at minimal cost. These packs are very economical, because you can print as many items as you wish, and reuse them for years to come. You can see our party packs here.
10. Set the Fun
Now, you need to entertain them. Don't panic - party entertainment does not need cost you the earth. In fact, it can be totally free.
Simply setting aside space to dance and playing some music can be enough to entertain party guests. Start out with traditional music at first, then play more energetic tunes as time goes on, to encourage dancing. A good tip is to make your playlist long enough to last the entire party duration, so no songs will be heard more than once.
When it comes to activities, if you don’t have the budget allowance to hire a professional entertainer for your party, perhaps a family member or friend will be able to help. If someone you know has a particular talent or expertise, such as face painting, is a disc jockey/MC or is a great cook, it won’t hurt to ask them for their input.
People of all ages love fun party games. You can totally DIY your party games - an internet search will leave you exhausted with options!
Well, that's the end of our list! I hope these 10 tips for parties on a budget help you to party without breaking the bank!
Want more tips for kids' parties? Click here.