5 Tips for Hosting on a Budget

That don’t include just not having one

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for a reason to have people over. And while I’m keeping my ear tuned to CDC guidelines for large and small gatherings, what’s on my radar right now is getting a few close friends together to make Halloween cookies. For you, it might be ringing in the fall season with brunch, or something else.

The problem is throwing parties, particularly large ones, can be expensive. From invites to food, if you’re not careful, you can end up spending a lot more money than you intended. 

But, it is possible to gather friends and family without dipping into your kid’s college fund. Here are five tips for hosting on a budget. 

1. Keep the guest list small

Sometimes it makes sense to go all out and invite the whole neighborhood. But, when you can, keep things more intimate, because having a shorter guest list will have a huge impact on the overall cost of your gathering. 

With a shorter list, you’ll have less food and drinks to buy and prepare, fewer invites to make and send, and you might not need to buy extra plates or other kinds of essentials for the gathering. 

And, depending on where your comfort levels fall when it comes to having people over right now, it might be even more prudent to include fewer people. 

2. Use a free service to send invites

Paper invites are wonderful! With paper invites, your guests will have something beautiful that they can hang up on their fridge. And who doesn’t enjoy receiving invitations in the mail? I almost exclusively receive statements and bills in the mail, and they’re not that exciting. Trust me. 

The thing that’s not so great is that sending physical invites can be really expensive. You have to buy the cards or invites, and also pay for postage on top of that. All of those things together carry a hefty price tag. And that’s even more true if you invite a lot of people.

To keep costs to a minimum, opt for email invitations instead. (To be honest, I might even send a text if I’m just inviting a few friends for a nice meal.) Many services have both paid and free options for use, so you can find the invitation that works best for you and your budget. 

And, not only are email–or text– invitations more cost-effective, they can save you time because you won’t have to write out addresses on Every. Single. Envelope. 

3. Let other people help with food

I love cooking! So when I throw a party, you can count on there being lots of delicious homemade food. But that’s not easy to do or cost-effective when the guest list is 50 people long. 

If people ask how they can help, let them know you’d appreciate desserts, drinks, or sides so you can focus on the main dish. That way, you’ll have one thing to focus on that won’t break the bank. Or, if your friends tend to be gift-givers, you can ask for “no gifts please, but bring a side instead.”

4. Use what you have at home

Oftentimes when I have people over, I have to fight the urge to go to Target and fill my house with all the new home goods and décor. Then I have to remind myself that that’s not practical. Especially because I already have everything I need at home!

The next time you’re having people over, challenge yourself to use the items you already have. That old cake stand collecting dust on top of your fridge is perfect for cheese and crackers. Throw your tablecloth in the wash and it’ll be as good as new! The point is to find things you can use in your home, and only purchase additional items from the store if you actually need them. 

5. Make space in your budget for future parties

The best way to not break the bank is to make space in your budget for hosting parties. So if gathering people in your home is a common occurrence for you, include a monthly Hosting Envelope in your budget so you have money set aside. That way, the next time you plan a get-together, you’ll know exactly what you have to work with, and be able to plan worry-free. Ready to make your Envelope? Head to the Add/Edit page to get started. 

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