Throwing an upscale party doesn't require an upscale budget. Impressing your guests with a classy affair without going into debt just takes a little creative thinking. Whether you're planning a birthday party or celebrating an anniversary, finding ways to cut costs without cutting elegance can make it a night to remember. Prioritize what you want to include in your party. If you really want a band, you might have to sacrifice splurging on a caterer or the venue itself.
Select a venue. If you're planning on renting a space, contact the venue operator and ask whether he offers a discount for off-nights. Venues may be have greater availability during weeknights or on Sunday, and you might find a big discount. Or simply throw the party at your home or a friend's upscale house.
Skip the dinner and offer an extended cocktail party. Hire a few professional waiters or waitresses to serve hors d'oeuvres, such as sliced blue cheese on crackers, drizzled with rosemary-infused honey and garnished with thinly sliced scallions. Or simply offer the gig to a few friends or family members looking to make a few bucks. Have them dress in crisp white dress shirts and slacks. Cook the hors d'oeuvres yourself or enlist a few people to help.
Choose music. Professional bands can be pricey, so look into local music schools and ask whether they offer student musicians to play your party. Schedule a visit so you can hear them play. You don't want a couple of young violinists, who've only been playing for a few months. Or if you're throwing the party at your house, hire a cellist or simply hook up your iPod and mix in elegant music, as well as a few dance numbers if you have the space.
Trim the guest list to only the people you need or really want at the party. You probably don't need to invite the girl who waves to you at your yoga class. Not only does trimming the list keep the affair more personal, but it also can save hundreds of dollars, depending on the number of people. It also allows you to select a smaller venue, which can save even more money. If you need to invite a large number of guests, such as for a business party, hold the event during the workweek, which allows you to cut back on alcohol purchases.
String up little white lights to give an elegant winter look. Save money on centerpieces by filling up glass bowls with water and have votive candles floating on top. If you feel the need to send out invitations, purchase discounted stationary or use an electronic invitation website, which invites guests through email.
Tips & Warnings
- Haggle with vendors. When serving six types of hors d'oeuvres, plan on having guests eat two of each. Have the number of a taxicab company for guests when serving alcohol.
- Some venues have hidden costs, so make sure you go over the contract. Avoid using your credit card on expenses, which can blow up your budget with interest charges.
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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