Party Planning Tips

From everything from weddings, to retirement parties to children's birthdays, the one piece of advice I think guarantees success is to create an event timeline to help with your party.

From setup to cleanup, you should write down everything that has to happen in order by time. This will help you see where you may need a hand, such as stringing the pinata; prompt you to add items you may have forgotten (matches for candles on the cake or a microphone for the heartfelt speech at a parent's retirement); and show you that picking up the cake at 2:00 while also picking up balloons at 2:15 is not going to work.

Success or disaster is all in the details! Your event agenda will also be a great tool onsite to hand to volunteers and to keep everyone on track and on schedule.

For help with Wedding Planning,
please see Wedding Ideas for You.

The picture below has nothing to do with party planning,
but I think it's cute.

Fun Birthday Party Ideas
Easy Birthday Party Ideas including theme decorations, cake ideas, making invitations, games, crafts, costumes, and helpful tips to make your party run smoothly.

Parties on a Budget

We have all experienced those times when we want to have a party but finances are tight. As you begin to create your guest list, you become excited about the prospect of entertaining. Thinking about the things you'll have to buy to pull off this party, the excitement comes to an abrupt halt. There are invitations, paper goods, decorations, food, drinks, the list becomes a deal breaker. But it doesn't have to if you reconsider your approach to this party. There are many things you can do to keep your party budget under control.

Set a Budget

Don't even begin to plan your party before you decide on your budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on your party - then stick to it. The total budget will help you decide on the style of party you can host, and will protect you from that after-party budget hangover.

Good Riddance to Disposables

Even the least expensive paper plates, cups, and plastic cutlery will quickly add up. You can save on that expense by using your regular dinnerware, flatware, and glassware. Don't be afraid to mix and match if you don't have enough pieces in one set to serve all of your guests. Eclectic tables can be very stylish as long as you put pieces together with a little thought. Still don't have enough pieces? Ask your best friend if you can borrow some dinnerware or flatware, and you can return the favor someday. Not only will this save on expenses, it's also good for the environment.

Choose a Little Less Convenience for the Produce

It's tempting to pick up those little packages of pre-washed, pre-cut fruits and veggies, but they come at a price. Buy your produce in bulk and prep it yourself to save on your party grocery bill. It usually lasts longer, and stays fresher if you wash and cut your produce closer to the party date. And while we're on the subject of produce, always choose produce that is in-season for your area. That's where you'll find the best deals.

Pasta, Rice and Potatoes - The Sneaky Three Dollar Stretchers

Traditionally these three starches have been the keys to stretching a dollar. Salads, side dishes, and casseroles made with these ingredients will be budget-friendly. And who doesn't love a tray of baked ziti or scoop of potato salad?

Make It a Community Party

No one minds being asked to contribute a dish to your casual party. It's not as though you've asked them to be the host! With that basic concept in mind, you can organize a:

Potluck Party
Block Party
Progressive Dinner

BYOB or Other Beverage Cost Saving Tricks

For a casual party, it's very common for hosts to tell their guests that soft drinks will be provided, but guests can feel free to bring any liquor of their choosing. If you're not comfortable doing that, you can save on alcohol expenses by purchasing wine, champagne or beer by the case. Or consider making a seasonal punch as your economical, alcoholic beverage for the party.

Affordable Themes

By hosting a party with a theme, you can easily mask the underlying economy of your food. Themes make it fun, and you can add to the ambience with music (borrowed from a collector friend if you don't have the appropriate selections). Here are several affordable party themes:

Make Your Own Tacos
Pizza Party
Desserts Only
Italian Pasta Night
Ice Cream Sunday

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