Throw a great party on a budget

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 12:06 pm

Many life events are worthy of celebration. Many families aspire to have parties honoring special events, such as graduations, births, retirements, bar mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens, and much more. Hosting such a party can be a great time, and such hosting duties need not break the bank.

Hosting a party can be an expensive undertaking. An unsteady economy has left many families pinching pennies for the necessities, and hosting duties are a luxury many families cannot afford. But hosts who can create a budget ahead of time might find their party is easier to plan. Creating a party budget may mean compromising on a few elements, but it does not have to mean compromising a good time. Here are a few ways to budget for a party and still have a blast.

* Determine a realistic party budget. The first step is to determine exactly what you can spend. You will need to base all of your plans on what you can afford. It can be tempting to go above budget, but that may land you in debt. Without a budget, you will not know how to allocate your money effectively.

* Get price quotes from various venues. The cost of renting a venue will likely be the biggest expense on your list. But you can save a substantial amount of money if you can host at home. Those who have limited house or apartment space need to seek other options. While restaurants may be expensive, parks, gardens or church basements may be more reasonable.

* Figure out what elements are important. Are your guests gourmands who pay special attention to food quality and taste? If so, you may have to spend more on food and beverages. If a flashy location is more desireable, then know that a large portion of the budget will be allocated for a place with a view. Some people flock to parties for the entertainment. If you are like-minded, then budget a larger portion for the band or deejay.

* Keep a tally. As you start securing elements to the party, be sure to deduct the expenses from the total budget. Hold on to all receipts and reconcile them against the amount you have to spend. This will present an accurate picture of the total cost of the party. If you start to break your budget, you will know you it's time to curtail any additional spending.

* Don't plan on the gifts covering expenses. Some families circulate tales of brides and grooms dipping into their gifts at weddings to pay for the party. Those who have to do this have overextended themselves. Many throw parties with the intention of breaking even once monetary gifts are collected. Not only is this in poor etiquette, it is risky. There is no guarantee that guests will cover the cost of their meals.

* Do as much as you can yourself. Cutting out the middleman will dramatically reduce the cost of many party services. If you want floral centerpieces on tables, make them yourself. If you want guests to take home chocolate lollipops or other trinkets, spend time putting them together. Printing your own invitations reduces the cost of using a printing service or buying them. Set your own playlist of compiled music on an mp3 player for the music. If hiring a caterer exceeds your budget, prepare the food yourself. The more services you can provide on your own, the less expensive the party will be.

* Pare down the guest list. Another significant way to come in at budget is to be realistic about how many people you can invite. While it may be nice to extend an invitation to everyone you know, that will quickly drive up the price. Only invite the closest of friends and family.

* Delegate some of the work. If a friend or family member offers to bring something to the party, don't hesitate to accept such an offer. You may know someone who takes excellent photos or a friend who has a deejaybusiness on the side. Every little bit helps when working on a budget.

* Start saving early. Look ahead to the events that are coming up that may warrant a bash. Pick and choose among those you want to celebrate and begin putting away money toward those events. Once the time arrives, you may have more savings than you thought and the ability to indulge a little more.

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