Discover How to Entertain on a Budget

by Ginger Marks - Date: 2007-01-19 - Word Count: 1004 Share This!

To most people these two words, entertain and budget, are miles apart. But they don't have to be. Whether you are a young adult who wants to impress your friends, a new business owner looking to impress your clients, or a mom or dad who simply wants to take a break from the 'office' to entertain a few friends you will find these tips useful.

No matter whom you are or what your background, we all enjoy getting together with family and/or friends. However, when money is a little tight you don't have to opt out of host or hostessing if you utilize some sensible alternatives.

Your first task should be to decide the theme for your event. This will help you to create your guest list as well as help you see what pre-party elements you can bypass and what areas you will want to make extra special.

If you are planning your wedding festivities you will want to focus on the comfort and enjoyment of your guests. For this type of event you could save a ton of cash that could be used for a more practical purchase like your honeymoon or your first home purchase by narrowing your guest list. After all is said and done only you and your immediate family and very best friend will remember your party. Most of your guests will remember the wedding. So have a larger wedding if you must, but limit the wedding party to save major dollars.

For most of us we simply want to entertain a few friends. Be sure to supply a comfortable amount of room for your guests. If yours is a dinner party you will want to ensure you have enough chairs for your entire guest list. If it is a cocktail party you can and should opt for "milling" room rather than so many chairs.

Another consideration is where you have your event. This can also either be costly or not. Here is a list of some inexpensive alternatives.

1. Your own home or backyard

2. Your local church Fellowship Hall

3. A local residential clubhouse

4. A local business or entertainment complex, i.e. skating rink, bowling alley

5. Park or picnic area

6. The beach or lakeside

7. Your family or friend's home

The latter suggestion I offer with the thought of further spreading the expense by hosting a Progressive Dinner. These types of parties can be most memorable and fun.

Just what is a Progressive Dinner? Simply put, each course of a meal is prepared and presented by a different diner. My recommendation here is to plan carefully the route to minimize driving distance.

The next issue you need to decide is whether to give out invitations or not. Although a phone call is often less costly than a printed invitation you may want to consider sending them to at least some of your invitees. The more formal your event the more likely this should be done. Some ideas to consider that can help cut down on the expense here are:

1. Computer generated invitations

a. Printed

b. Emailed

c. Online greeting cards

i. Send Out Cards

ii. Online digital greeting cards

iii. invitations

2. Hand crafted cards

a. Quilled

b. Stamped

c. Embossed, or otherwise embellished

d. Calligraphy

Hand crafting your invitations can be fun and will provide a unique invitation that may be cherished by the recipient for many years to come. You can even have a group of close friends or family members assist you with the invitation's design and creation. Think about the laughs and memories you will be making at the same time.

Now that your venue is selected and your invitations are done next you will need to plan the menu. This is one area that can be easily controlled. If you want to really impress your guests but don't want to go over your budget I suggest you splurge on the dessert. This is the final thing your guests will consume and will therefore be the most remembered. If you are having a cocktail party you can do this with the hors d'oeuvres. Depending on your budget you can offer:

1. Homemade

2. Store bought

3. Catered

4. Shipped

Homemade can be time consuming and tedious. Store bought convenience items from your frozen food section will be far less so, but your deli or bakery may supply a fresher choice. Catered food, on the other hand, while expensive for an entire meal can be a nice alternative for those who want just one special course.

Mail order is fairly new as a viable alternative. You can mail order anything from steak and fruit to dessert. One of my favorite desserts to provide that always gets rave reviews are the tasty treats created with love and attention to detail from My Little Taste of Italy. This bakery located in Whittier, California provides the most authentic Italian pastries I have ever found. From their homemade cookies and cakes to their to-die-for Cappuccino Brownies you can't go wrong.

If you can't make up your mind what to order I suggest you go for the brownies. They are so well known and loved all over American that they have been dubbed, by Jan Verhoeff, "Orgasmic".

While considering what you will serve also think about how you will serve it. While paper plates may be convenient for clean-up and a wise selection for your picnic be sure to invest in a plate that is strong enough to stand up to the task. For reliability you will find the coated paper products and Chinette(TM) plates perform the best.

However, if your party is indoors real plates and glasses add a hint of sophistication to your event.

A word of advice on beverages, "Go light". Alcohol, beside the effect it has on people, can be one of the most expensive items you provide. To avoid this expense you might consider offering non-alcoholic alternatives or mixers and suggest your guests bring their own liquor. Another idea is to limit over indulgence by carefully calculating the number of servings per guest that you can afford and stay within your budget.

One last comment, if presentation is important for your event, the use of linens both on the tables and for guests will add class and beauty. This seemingly insignificant touch will absolutely be noticed and appreciated.

Copyright 2007 Ginger Marks

Related Tags: advice, budget, chocolate, documeant, party planning, entertaining, my little taste of italy, nibroc marketing solutions

Ginger Marks & Kim Emerson are co-owners of Nibroc Marketing Solutions ( Ginger is the author of "Presentational Skills for the Next Generation", available through her company website at ( My Little Taste of Italy can be found at (

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