- Personal Finance
How To Cut Costs On Get Togethers
CUTTING COSTS ON GET TOGETHERS
I happen to be a champion entertainer. I love nothing more than having people fill my house. I love cooking for them and I love hearing the constant banter and the happy laughter.
But let's face it - when times are tough like they are now, you look for money saving ideas across the board. It's not enough to try and save with everyday cooking.....you also start to think about how much you can afford when it comes to entertaining.
However, there are many ways to get around the high cost of
entertaining. Or at least make it affordable.
Let's examine the options that are available for people like me who love to entertain but who can't afford the high cost of everything.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON ENTERTAINING
Whether it's family or friends, getting together at home or out and about....it can end up costing you a bloody fortune if you're not careful.
The most important thing to do when you consider get togethers is to have an idea of how much different options will cost and then plan accordingly.
Having a budget is always the best policy and if you know that you can afford this amount of dollars and then you only spend that amount of dollars, you'll enjoy your time even more.
But what to do for get togethers? Do you want to have it at someone's house or do you want to take it "on the road?"
Decide that and your budget and then consider some of these ideas!
MONEY-SAVING TIPS AND TRICKS FOR ENTERTAINING ON A BUDGET
- Have a potluck dinner. If you want to have folks over, there's no law that says you have to provide every bit of the meal....and don't be upset if you have to say that. Times are tough and most people actually would rather be a part of the dinner and not feel that you are putting on the dog for them. If you're the host, then set the menu and make suggestions as to what dishes you think would go well with the main course...or ask for suggestions from everyone based on a certain main theme or dish. Sign everyone up for something....and remember....don’t feel badly about it.
- Meet at a restaurant during happy hour. This is a great way to go out and actually be able to afford it! Make sure you get separate bills. That way everyone is in charge of their own menu, paying for it and most importantly their own alcohol bill. Splitting the bill or chipping in can work in some situations but I've found personally we were always one of the couples who ended up paying more than others did because someone shorted the pot. The first words out of our mouths before we order are "we'd like a separate check, please". In my humble opinion, it's the only way to fly.
- Work get togethers for the holidays. If it's an office exchange of gifts or a group of friends meeting up just because for the holidays or otherwise, choose a time of day when prices are lower such as at lunch, early dinner or again, happy hour. I always advise getting separate bills unless you're specifically treating someone to a meal. That way, you only pay for what you eat or drink. Many restaurants also offer early hour dinners that are about half what the usual price is. Look for restaurants who do this on a regular basis but especially during holiday work get togethers, it can save everyone a lot of money. Happy hour menus can also be incredibly cheap....like a pizza big enough for 2 people for $5. They say it's all about the timing. Truer words were never spoken. By planning to go at a "not so popular" time of day, you can save big bucks and still enjoy going out.
- BYOB or PFYOB. Whether you're entertaining at home or you're going out, keeping it BYOB (bring your own booze) or PFYOB (pay for your own booze), it's the best policy. People should always be in charge of their own alcohol intake but they should also be in charge of its cost, not you. Drink costs can end up being double to triple the cost of the food bill which is outrageous. Multiply that times a few people or more and you could have a huge bill on your hand. You also should not feel that people need to come to your home or party to drink or worse yet, get drunk. Only providing alcohol for yourself cuts your bill substantially no matter if you're staying in or going out.
SHAVING THE COST OFF GETTING TOGETHER
One of my favorite kinds of entertaining is to have a progressive dinner. This is one of the coolest things ever and about the most wonderful way to spend a holiday with friends or family.
Decide first what kind of menu you want to concentrate on but it should be something everyone can enjoy. For instance, American or Italian. If everyone does know how to cook something as specialized as German, then that's fun, too but it should be something everyone can feel comfortable participating in when it comes to recipes.
Decide or even draw names to determine who is going to make which course of the dinner. Someone can do appetizers and drinks (although again have everyone BYOB to all stages of the dinner), someone can do salads or soups (or someone can do salads and someone else can do soups), someone will do the entree, and someone will do dessert.
Depending on how many couples you have, you can have a 4-course or 5-course dinner. If you have more than 4 or 5 couples or people in the group, then just pick people to be the hosts and the next time rotate it to different people.
A progressive dinner is fantastic for many reasons.
- You get to see each other's homes and at the holidays, it's especially fun
- Factor in a gift exchange of some sort if you'd like and that adds to the fun
- Spreading out the courses of the meals by driving (or walking) to someone else's house is really a great way to eat and is very leisurely
- Start early and finish
late - take your time over each course and savor the experience of not only the food but of each other's homes
- This is a great way to develop a menu and come up with all kinds of great recipe ideas
- Make up a cookbook for each progressive dinner and print it off for all the participants if you'd like.
- Include digital photos and memorable gifts that were exchanged
- This can be a fantastic way to dine for families, friends, groups such as Bunco or community meetings
- It's a great way to celebrate any occasion including holidays or birthdays - any special occasion will do
- As long as no one household bears the brunt of the expense, it is a great way to save money and entertain
- Think about this way of entertaining at times of the year other than holidays
- How about a progressive BBQ dinner? Everyone has to do something on the grill! Think of all the great food not to mention the great recipes
MONEY-SAVING TIPS FOR ENTERTAINING
Of course, there are many other ways to save money on entertaining.
Having a buffet at holidays or special occasions is another great way to cut the cost of entertaining though any time you end up paying for everything, you definitely will not save as much money.
I personally have found that having people bring part of the meal actually makes them feel more a part of whatever get together it is. They enjoy sharing their recipes as much as I enjoy sharing mine and it is a great way to encourage people to cook more or even to feel more confident about their cooking skills.
The more you share the costs of entertaining with others, the more you can afford to entertain!
If you have more helpful ideas, please share them below for all of us to read.