Our first tip has got to be to set a budget before you go out shopping! Heading out with no plan and no financial boundaries in place is a recipe for disaster, and before you know it you’re being wooed by aesthetic decorations and adorable mini quiches that send your party bill soaring.
Setting a budget in advance will help you decide which areas you want to invest more into, and which ones you’re going to try and snag a bargain. Set a total amount you’re happy to spend for your party and then break it down into categories like food, drinks, decorations, favors, etc, and play a game of financial tetris to fit everything into your pre-determined spend.
It’s tempting to want to go lavish on absolutely everything when you see what other people are posting on their socials, but try to balance out a mix of budget and bougie. Where can you use some handy entertaining hacks to mix high-end and low budget? It might be hitting YouTube for some party decor hacks, or whipping up your own party food instead of paying for convenience. There are tons of cheap dinner party food ideas, from bulking out your charcuterie boards with homemade dips and crudites, to opting for hearty homemade soups and low-stress traybakes.
When it comes to drinks for your party, serving fancy cocktails, spirits and mixers can add up. Instead, be smart with your planning and look for options to take advantage of volume discounts. The bigger you buy the cheaper per liter 100ml it tends to be, so get creative with cheap at-home cocktails that use similar spirits and mixers to offer up a range of tasty sips without breaking the bank. For example, for one liter of gin and a couple of bottles of bubbles, you could serve up fizz on arrival, French 75 cocktails, and then G&Ts to finish.
Making lots of smaller dishes is extra work for you, and often puts an extra strain on the budget too. Serving up sharing platters and bowls in a ‘family-style’ can minimize stress and streamline your budget. A tasty sharing mac ‘n’ cheese, slow cooker curries and fresh salads can give your guests a tasty feed without the price tag.
Pot luck dinners mean everyone brings a dish they’ve made, and it’s a great way to spread the cost and stress of hosting, while still getting together and socializing on a budget. If your squad has an appetite for each cooking a dish, pot lucks work really well – especially if you’ve got a small kitchen. Plus, the washing up afterwards is a shared effort!
Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.