How to Throw a Buffet Party on a Budget for the Holidays

cupcakes with white cream and cherry on top from Dreamstime.com
cupcakes with white cream and cherry on top from Dreamstime.com

To Party or Not to Party? On Christmas? A Party is a Must!

Due to global recession, most people cring from throwing a party even for very special occasions like weddings, baptisms, eighteenth birthdays, and many more. During these hard times when cash is short and the budget is limited, it is almost unthinkable to host even a small party.

But who says you have to spend beyond your means so that you can share happy moments with family and friends? The temptation to splurge for a happy celebration is always hard to resist. It’s a harsh truth that you must practice utmost restraint—if you don’t want to wake up with a bitter taste in the mouth next morning.

Christmas is coming soon. And parties will be everywhere. Don't get caught unprepared. Now is the right time to start planning a party or two for your family and friends. And while you're making a list, keep in mind that -- sometimes -- less is more.

Decorative Iced Coffee from Dreamstime.com
Decorative Iced Coffee from Dreamstime.com

One of the hardest thing about throwing parties when you just tightened the belt is deciding on the amount of budget. The next is sticking to this budget while wading through stores. The third is keeping your eyes open to see price tags before choosing what to put in your shopping basket.

The best tip on how to stick to your budget is simply do a thorough research on prices of each items needed. Such items are usually foods, drinks, eating utensils, plates, glasses, and decorations. Always compare prices from different stores. And always keep your mind open for new ideas such as renting party stuff instead of buying everything.

White bowl of candy corn from Dreamstime.com
White bowl of candy corn from Dreamstime.com

Yes, time is gold. But you will pay with cold cash so it’s still better to invest your time for the success of your party. The trick here is to work up yourself until you are over-excited. You read it right: over-excited. Or over-enthusiastic. A party often has an exact date and time. The venue can be changed anytime (before the day of the party, of course).

Actually, time is the best helper that you can find. Combine it with your over-enthusiasm, you will surely find tons of ways to save money for the big day. Whether you got a month, six months, or a year to save—if you’re determined to keep the plastic card safe in its hiding place, you will learn how to squirrel away changes and small bills into your party jar. A water plastic gallon will do just fine.

popcorn in bowl from Dreamstime.com
popcorn in bowl from Dreamstime.com

Put an elongated hole at the center of the cap using a red-hot iron nail. Make sure the largest coin will go through the hole. Paper bills can be folded or rolled to fit the size. Secure the ‘savings’ jar by smearing glue on the bottle’s neck and cap before closing for the last time.

This saving strategy is old and unoriginal but it always works—and it will only work—when combined with self-discipline. Try to develop a bit of amnesia. If you could forget the money you’re dropping into the hole, you’d be throwing a dream party when the anticipated date has arrived.

Pistachio Nuts (Dreamstime.com)
Pistachio Nuts (Dreamstime.com)

How to plan a party on a budget

chocolate cupcakes from Dreamstime.com
chocolate cupcakes from Dreamstime.com
strawberry cake from Dreamstime.com
strawberry cake from Dreamstime.com

Bake-and-Cook or Buy-and-Serve?

Every family and neighborhood always has a member or several members who love to bake and/or cook. Look for these kitchen genies and ask if they could lend some time to be your party chef and baker. Offer something, a helpful gadget or anything useful, in return. Make sure the arrangement will fit your budget. Even if you’re not getting a large chunk of expenses off the party budget, at least, the foods would be hot and plenty.

If you couldn’t bake or cook, buy cakes and cupcakes that you can decorate yourself. Buy a bag of commercially-prepared icing. Decorating can be fun. Discover your creative side.

Fill large bowls with nuts, colorful candies, and popcorn. Arrange meat cold cuts on pretty platters. Bowls of green salads are great fillers on the buffet table. Don’t forget to serve lots of cold drinks.

ASSORTED PARTY SUPPLIES AND OTHER STUFF

Wilton 4-Tier Stacked Cupcake and Dessert Tower
Wilton 4-Tier Stacked Cupcake and Dessert Tower

Display your pretty cupcakes as the centerpiece with this 4-Tier Staced Cupcake and Dessert Tower by Wilton. You do not an elaborate and expensive flower arrangement to attract attention to the buffet table. Arrange the mouth-watering sweets and goodies on this elegant dessert tower. Everyone will be impressed by the artistic presentation of food.

 
Meaty Party Foods (Photo courtesy by Le Gros Franck from Flickr)
Meaty Party Foods (Photo courtesy by Le Gros Franck from Flickr)
Prawn Cocktail (Dreamstime.com)
Prawn Cocktail (Dreamstime.com)
Vegetable Platter from Dreamstime.com
Vegetable Platter from Dreamstime.com
Colorful glasses from Dreamstime.com
Colorful glasses from Dreamstime.com

Which is Better: Use Plastic and Disposable or Use Glass and Reusable?

Thrift stores are mines of cheap plastic cups, plates, and eating utensils. But before buying anything, call your friends and family and ask for left-over party stuffs that you can borrow or buy (at very low prices). Most often than not, people would just be happy to empty their storerooms of hoarded party items at no charge—but an invitation card, of course.

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Creative Role of Computer and Printer on Parties

Search art websites that would allow you to design own party banners and decorations, invitation and thank-you cards, name cards, and anything artsy. Use ink-friendly fonts—the thinner, the better. Bold fonts ‘gargle’ ink.

Again, call your network of friends and family before buying stationaries and cards. Never mind if the paper collection has different colors, sizes, and thickness. Use art scissors on cutting your cards to put design on the edges. Instead of putting inside envelopes, just staple the cards with a short colorful ribbon bow.

An unashamed tip: Deliver these invitation cards personally—so that you may find the courage to ask the guest to bring a bottle of cheap wine. Of course, you can only do this if you’re close to each other, as in you grew up together (like your sister or bother… lol).

Hosting Your Party

ASSORTED PARTY SUPPLIES AND OTHER STUFF

Hibiscus Flowers for Tabletop Decoration (24)
Hibiscus Flowers for Tabletop Decoration (24)

These tropical flowers are perfect for a tabletop decoration that calls for bright and assorted colors. For outdoor parties, decorate your green leafy plants with these fake tropical flowers to create instant flowery plants in the gardens. Foods on the buffet tables look more delectable when festive flowers are arranged as a decorative centerpiece.

 
Party Food (Photo courtesy by Le Gros Franck from Flickr)
Party Food (Photo courtesy by Le Gros Franck from Flickr)
Party Food on Round Buffet Table (Photo courtesy by marytsao from Flickr)
Party Food on Round Buffet Table (Photo courtesy by marytsao from Flickr)
The 'Sweets' Table (Photo courtesy by marytsao from Flickr)
The 'Sweets' Table (Photo courtesy by marytsao from Flickr)

How To Throw a Potluck Party

table with delicious food from Dreamstime.com
table with delicious food from Dreamstime.com
Tartlets with Salad on Top from Dreamstime.com
Tartlets with Salad on Top from Dreamstime.com
Party Food (Photo Courtesy by alexdecarvalho from Flickr)
Party Food (Photo Courtesy by alexdecarvalho from Flickr)
canape with caviar, smoked salmon & veggies from Dreamstime.com
canape with caviar, smoked salmon & veggies from Dreamstime.com
canape with camembert/brie cheese & grapes from Dreamstime.com
canape with camembert/brie cheese & grapes from Dreamstime.com
Party Goodies (Photo courtesy by roland from Flickr)
Party Goodies (Photo courtesy by roland from Flickr)

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How To Throw a Wine-Tasting Party

glass with wine from Dreamstime.com
glass with wine from Dreamstime.com
Dessert cocktail glasses from Dreamstime.com
Dessert cocktail glasses from Dreamstime.com
Shot glasses with a slice of orange from Dreamstime.com
Shot glasses with a slice of orange from Dreamstime.com
Cider from Dreamstime.com
Cider from Dreamstime.com
Jelly Shooters - vodka and jelly from Dreamstime.com
Jelly Shooters - vodka and jelly from Dreamstime.com

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Comments 1 comment

Johnny Parker profile image

Johnny Parker 6 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

Amazing amount of stuff there. I remember the days when people used to regularly throw parties. Are we all too busy now? I think there needs to be a blog about how to prize people away from their blogs!! lol

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