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If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that I love to entertain over the holidays. From casual dinners to fun cocktail parties, the more the merrier. The only problem is, like many, my holiday budget always seems to be bursting at the seams after purchasing gifts, flights, decorations and baking supplies.
Not wanting to skip socializing with friends, I've had to be resourceful when throwing a fun party on a budget. By having some basic, inexpensive, party staples on hand, I find I can dress up and accessorize based on the type of party I want to have. Here are a few tips for throwing a party for 15 people on a $100 budget.
Glasses and Plates: While you might be tempted to break out your good wine glasses and plates, spending a little money on inexpensive versions will save you a headache (and a broken glass or two) the end. I love to check out thrift stores and dollar stores for fun glasses and dessert plates. Depending on the location, these items can run as little as 50 cents apiece! Don't worry about matching everything as having different types of glasses on hand is perfect for various cocktails. For those not wanting to hunt around, Ikea has some great inexpensive party options. (Extra Tip: For a festive touch, tie a ribbon around the stems of the wine and champagne glasses. This adds a little pop of color and allows guests to clearly identify their glasses).
Serving Dishes: Using simple white platters, allows your food to take center stage and they can be reused for any occasion in the future. TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls are great resources for large white platters in the $10- $20 range. Ikea and CB2 sell some fantastic platter sets as well.
Napkins: Fabric napkins are a no-brainer for me. They instantly add a classic touch to a party and can be reused. If you pick white napkins, break out the bleach to remove stains. My favorite is to mix and match vintage napkins. eBay and thrift stores offer a wide selection in the $5- $10 range. Nice paper napkins will work in a pinch too. (Extra Tip: Grab some plain napkins and give them a holiday feel with some gold or silver fabric paint.)
Food: When deciding on the theme for your party, pick either appetizers or dessert. Skip the expensive cheeses and instead opt for veggies and hummus. Check out the frozen section of Trader Joes, BJs or Costco for some inexpensive and tasty party options. Another option is to ask guests to bring one of their favorite holiday items to share.
Alcohol: This is by far the most expensive part of the party. Signature beverages are a great way to help cut down on some of the cost. I love self-serve Prosecco bars. Grab some good prosecco and a few fun fruit juices and you're set! Other options include ordering alcohol from discount beverage stores (like Bev Mo) or letting guests know what type of beverages you'll be serving and asking them to bring any special beverages that they may want outside of that. (Extra Tip: On the bar, place lemons limes and other fruit in a large vase. This doubles as a cool centerpiece and later as garnishes for drinks).
Lighting: Candlelight is key for a cozy feel. I buy votive candles in bulk and reuse the glass holders from party to party. Floating candles are also great in place of flowers as centerpieces.
Music: Break out your iPod, or pick your favorite stations on Pandora for an insantly fun vibe.
Decorations: In a pinch, grab some construction or wrapping paper, punch small 1" circles and glue to a string to create a fun, festive garland to loop around the room.
Glasses and Plates: $15 (thrift stores)
Lighting: $9.97 (Set of 6 votive holders, $1.99 at Ikea, Set of 24 candles in metal holders, $5.99 at IKEA)
Napkins: $9.99 (Set of 12 vintage napkins, $9.99 on eBay)
Serving Platter: $10 (TJMaxx)
Alcohol: $29.97 (Prosecco, $9.99 at BevMo)
Mixers/Garnishes: $6 (Pear Cinnamon Cider, $2.99 at Trader Joe's)
Food: $16 (12 Sweet Potato Bites, $3.99 at Trader Joe's)
Decorations: $3 (Wrapping paper and string)