Eat Well, Spend Less: Throwing a Party on a Budget

entertaining on a budget
source: DrStarbuck

This month’s Eat Well, Spend Less theme is entertaining on a budget!

Some people are born entertainers, but it takes a little more effort for others of us!

My mom loves to throw a good party, and she’s really good at thinking of all the little details and special touches. I, on the other hand, like to have friends over, but I tend to just pretend they’re extended members of the family so that I don’t get too stressed, and I always forget something obvious and important.

Whatever type of entertainer you are, summer is a great time for a party because schedules are more relaxed and you can spread out to enjoy the sprinkler in the yard or sitt around a fire pit and talking.

Of course, entertaining can also be expensive if you’re not careful.

So how do you balance the desire for hospitality and sharing food and laughter with good friends and the need to stick to your budget?

Here are a few ideas:

1. Simple Decor Makes a Statement

Rather than investing in decor for your party, look for simple, inexpensive options:

  • Mason jars with floating tea lights or bunches of wild flowers can be used for centerpieces.
  • Use fresh fruit for a colorful touch to place settings.
  • Dig out your Christmas lights and string them outside for a warm & cozy atmosphere.
  • Tie ribbons around mason jars for festive cups or to hold silverware.
  • Use natural elements such as smooth stones or tall grasses to create unique decor.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Potluck

Serving an entire meal can be expensive if you are hosting a large group, but there is nothing wrong with inviting people for a potluck event. When we had friends from our homeschool co-op over last month, we supplied the main course and drinks and asked everyone to bring a dessert or side, and it was the perfect way to make hosting a larger gathering affordable while also saving my sanity!

3. Plan Your Menu Thoughtfully.

There are plenty of ways to entertain on a budget without putting a strain on your budget. When it comes to planning your menu, choose seasonal items and simple recipes. You’ll save money as well as time!

Use some of the same strategies from the rest of the Eat Well, Spend Less to stretch your budget even further: raid your pantry or stockpile, shop farmers markets and cook from scratch.

4. Make the Most of Your Leftovers.

If you plan carefully, you can save the leftovers from a party to stretch your grocery budget going forward. Plan your menu for the next week around your leftovers, and freeze what you won’t eat for a later date!

If you’re going to do this, a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re hosting a potluck, you obviously don’t want to commandeer someone else’s leftovers! Make sure you don’t start wrapping and freezing leftovers until everyone has taken home what they brought.
  • You don’t want to leave food sitting out for too long if you’re going to eat it later. I read recently that watermelon is actually a huge source of salmonella during the summertime because people leave it sitting out for so long.
  • Opt for a variety of food rather than large quantities of a single item so that you don’t end up with two pounds of baby carrots after the party instead of a mixture of fresh veggies.

What other tips do you have for entertaining on a budget?