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How To Throw A Cheap Party For Family And Friends
In this economy, people need to stick to a budget, and I think we have finally learned a few lessons about the things we chose to spend our money on. In the eighties, I attended birthday parties of classmates who complained that my gift was not lavish enough, but I am not exactly sure why they expected someone to spoil them silly on their birthday. Of course, we should do thoughtful things for people on their birthdays, but nothing is more boring than the so-called friend that only invites people to their party hoping to get a bounty full of treasure. In the nineties, I was a bit older and went to birthday parties where people were much more respectful about the gifts I purchased. They may not have loved the gift, but they did not throw a fit about it either. Personally, I do not like largely depersonalized parties and I prefer celebrations with around ten people tops. Even when my sister had a Thanksgiving party/dinner for her friends it grew a little tiresome of a large number of people that came over. There was just too much noise and chatter, and I prefer something a bit smaller. After discovering that a few male guests had snarfed down a Thanksgiving dinner that could have fed a small army for several days, my sister decided it would be more economical to have a shorter list of her parties.
There is nothing wrong with large and lavish parties, budget permitting, but these days who can afford to do so? When looking at your party list try to trim it down to family and friends you know you want to hang out with, and not long lost acquaintances you rarely see. It is much cheaper to plan a party for a small number of people as opposed to overdrawing your bank account on one event. Here are a few of the things seen people do to bring down the cost of a small party for family and friends.
1. Restaurant Parties Are Out:
How many times have your heard about people complaining that a party at a restaurant went way over budget, even after they had made special menu arrangements with the manager in advance? Something always goes wrong and the guests end up ordering more than the host expected, or a few people assume the host is paying and leave them to foot the entire bill.
I went to an informal birthday party for a friend at a local restaurant. It was well known in advance that each person was going to pay for their own dinner. A few guests brought the birthday girl presents, but they must have assumed these gifts entitled them to a free dinner. Her friends surprised her with a birthday cake, and before it could be served several people magically got up and left the table. The poor birthday girl was stuck with a bill of several hundred dollars on her birthday, and she wanted us to help out with the rest. I gave her and her friends a few dollars, but since the understanding had been that we each were having our own dinner I insisted on a separate check for myself.
Past experiences taught me when you go out with a group of several people always ask the server to give you a separate check because a combined total often results in disputes about who owes what, and who should pay how much of the tip. Yes I know I am a painfully cheap wet blanket, but personally, I do not want to have a party at a restaurant because it will always cost more.
2. Park Parties Are In:
Park parties are definitely in because the only costs here are for the food and party supplies. Yes you will have to bring a trash bag and clean up after yourself, but chances are a park can offer a much nicer ambiance than a noisy restaurant. One park up where I used to live in the mountains was so beautiful because it was next to a small lake with flowers and ducks all around, and in many cities the local park is one of the closest places where you can get back to nature. Park parties are really cool, but keep in mind there may be many people with the same idea if you have a party during the weekend. If all the benches are taken bring several blankets and have an old fashion picnic, and if you have never done so I recommend it!
3. Buy Party Supplies On The Cheap:
Delis usually have a wonderful selection of cold cuts, sandwiches, and salads for a party, but these can cost extra. To save money head over to a store like Food For Less or Smart and Final to pick up party food and supplies more affordable prices. At Food For Less, there are large submarine sandwiches, bags of fried chicken, salad packs, affordable fruit by the pound, and many other goodies that you can stock up on for reasonable prices. Yes, you have to bag your own groceries, but I view this as my cardio and strength training.
I also love Smart and Final because you can find large containers of potato salad, restaurant brand frozen entrees in bulk sizes, and large packages of party supplies such as plastic knives and forks. When planning a party it never hurts to stop by Smart and Final on the way home from work, and I guarantee you will save money shopping there when planning for medium to larger parties.
4. Have A Party Gift Exchange:
At one job I thought it was very refreshing how the birthday boy or girl would bring in a treat or cupcakes on their birthday as opposed to expecting others to treat them. This was a fun idea, and everyone got to sample treats throughout the year this way.
If you are planning a party for your guests you probably cannot afford to buy them all gifts, and I do not expect you to do this because it is your birthday after all. However, it might be a fun idea to have gift exchange party and tell your guests they do not have to bring you a gift. Set a limit that each guest can spend one gift, such as five dollars. Next, play a white elephant type game and see who ends up with what. I would rather do something like this as opposed to having others watch me open a table full of presents because then I feel like every one is sharing in on the fun.
5. Make Your Own Birthday Cake:
Cakes from the bakery are not exactly cheap, but for under five dollars, you can make a tasty cake at home. A homemade cake may not be as fancy as one made by a decorator, but most cakes taste good with ice cream. If you really do not want to bake a cake Food For Less has an affordable selection, but these will cost more than making your own. Have fun planning a party, and do not be afraid to think of ways to save money when doing so.