The key to keeping things under budget is to remember your party's ultimate purpose: to celebrate the connection between yourself and your family and friends. True friends and family will overlook or even forget the absence of done-up decorations, fussy food and expensive entertainment. In fact, you'd be surprised at how readily they will share their time and talents to help you pull off the perfect celebration. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Accept. If a guest asks, "What can I bring?" consider yourself lucky and graciously accept their generosity. Suggest modest items such as ice, garnishes for cocktails, bar snacks, a bottle of wine, portable dessert, or even help before, during or after the party.
- Optimize. Purchase a big, unarranged market bouquet of seasonal flowers and break it down into individual informally arranged bouquets.
- Localize. Choose locally produced, seasonally abundant foods from the market and prepare them simply to save money.
- Economize. Hit your local thrift store to find funky plates, glasses and flatware, rather than buy paper cups, plates, etc. Find new uses for old things - like turning mason jars into vases.
- Book. Find your own talent by asking your niece, nephew, uncle, cousin or best friend to provide the entertainment. Recruit a DJ, a pianist, a juggler, comedian or whatever your family and friends can offer!