Frugal Entertaining Without Breaking Your Budget

Practicing sound financial habits does not have to be boring. It would be horrible for anyone to live a Scrooge-like existence everyday in order to save a few dollars here and there. Humans are gregarious creatures and need social interaction.

This, however, does not mean that you have to break your budget when you decide to throw a small get-together. There are certain ways in which you can be frugal when it comes to entertaining, and the best part is that your guests won’t even realize it.

Limit Your Guest List

This might be a very difficult thing to do, but you can’t expect to keep a budget and invite the whole world in the process. You need to decide who you really want at the party and invite only those people. By making a guest list you also become aware of how much of everything you will require.

Calculate Your Budget and Write a Shopping List

Do not go to the store with random estimations of what you will need. You should calculate your budget before you starting shopping. Figure out how much you can spend and then decide what you need too buy. Write a comprehensive shopping list to make sure you keep within your spending limit.

Use a Certain Amount of Cash and No More

When you go shopping you will see a few items which you did not think of when compiling the shopping list. For this reason you should take the pre-determined budget with you in cash. This will limit the number of extras that you end up purchasing. You should always be aware of your budget and never exceed it.

Ask Guests to Contribute

This is quickly becoming a norm when it comes to social gatherings. By asking guests to bring their own drinks the party budget will be decreased dramatically. There is no need for the host to indulge the drink preferences of every guest.

Themed Parties

Themed parties are one of the most frugal and fun ways to entertain guests, because everyone can contribute. If you create a theme you can then ask every guest to bring one item of eats or drinks which contributes to the overall theme. Guests will be happy to get involved and your entertainment budget will be far lower. This works very well when it comes to cocktail parties, because every guest can then bring a drink and participate in creating random concoctions.

Serve Moderate Portions

You should not serve too much food. If guests are still hungry they will ask for more. You do not need to overload every plate that you serve. Serving small portions does not automatically imply that you are a miser. Guests usually gather to socialize, rather than eat large quantities of food.

Prepare Pasta

Almost everyone enjoys pasta and it isn’t too expensive to make. The internet is filled with fantastic recipes so you don’t have to be Italian to make a good a dish. If you want to lower the budget even further, then you can use vegetables instead of meat.

Prepare a Really Good Dessert

If you leave your guests with a good final impression they will remember the entire evening fondly. One of the best tricks for effective frugal entertainment is to provide an amazing dessert. Desserts are cheap to prepare and it is easy to make them look good, so you should always put a bit of extra effort into this part of the preparation.

With a little forethought, you can put together an impressive party without breaking the bank!

About the Author:

Mrs. Not Made of Money likes to save money every way that she can and stretching the family budget has become a favorite hobby. She writes the personal finance blog “Not Made of Money”? along with her husband where they share their money saving tips for living a debt free life.

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Hi Iā€™m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.

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10 responses

  • Guests can not only bring drinks, but all the side dishes too! When I go to gatherings, I feel like at least half the time the guests bring at least some of the side dishes.

    Also very clever about the dessert, smart thinkin!

  • Great reminder post! Mr. BFS and I host boardgaming potluck parties every month or two. We provide a main dish and the guests bring all the sides and drinks (they each spend between $2-$10 depending on what they choose). Usually we end up with 10-14 people and it costs us about $20 total for the main dish (paprika-rub grilled chicken breasts this last time) and chocolate-dipped fruit that I’m now “famous” for…you can’t get easier than melted chocolate chips and yet, I’m a freaking hero. Gotta love it!

  • Guest should always bring something. Its just good manners. Plus it shows politeness.

  • Pasta is a great idea…it can be sooo delicious, everyone eats it, and it’s inexpensive.

    I also think it’s a great idea to ask people to chip in. I’ve found that post people don’t mind chipping in a few dollars, which can go a long way when multiplied by however many guests you have. Can really subsidize the costs!

    • Wow Andrew, I never thought about asking to chip in. Is it weird to ask? Or is it usually a bunch of friends so it’s no big deal?

      • Usually it’s a bunch of friends. I wouldn’t normally ask if it’s going to be a bunch of new people I haven’t met before…only ones that I know pretty well for when we have get togethers.

        • It’s funny because I just realized I do the same thing. When my best friend and her husband come over for the day, they bring half the food to help with the meal. I just never realized I did it because I never count it as a ‘get together’ because it’s just friends hanging out.

          Wouldn’t it be funny if you were inviting to a new friends home and they ask you to give them money? šŸ˜‰

          • Yep! Agreed!

  • Jaime, I just discovered your blog. I think you are amazing!
    One of my biggest issues with saving money is spending time with friends. I feel like such a cheapskate every time I’m invited to go to the movies or dinner and I decline the offer. I feel that my friends may think I’m struggling financially. My fiance and I like to use some of our entertainment budget on our favorite restaurant (which isn’t always the favorite of our friends). Sometimes our friends like to go to the more expensive $30/plate restaurants.
    I am also finding it difficult when it comes to taking vacations with family or taking trips to visit family. In my mind I think, “We can afford to go…but now I can’t make that extra loan payment”. It is difficult to determine whether I’m becoming a scrooge, or if I’m being financially responsible.

    Thanks for starting this blog!

    • Thanks so much Mel! Financially responsible. šŸ™‚ You’ll be able to go on vacation way more when you don’t have the loan payments. We are here for you!

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