Entertaining is always a challenge when you have a strict budget; but have no fear. You can still have memorable, fun-filled parties and spend next to nothing.Here's how, step-by-step.
Step One: Deciding whom to invite.Anorexics are always good. A whole group of them won’t even go through a single head of romaine lettuce.
Skip the bulimics. Not only do they eat too much, but the mess they make is unspeakable.
Put some thought into your guest list. If you are obligated to invite certain people you would rather not, then be sure to invite guests that you know will annoy them into leaving the gathering early.
Step Two: Choosing a party themeThere are many types of themes that will blend well with a budget. For instance, why not throw a “Landfill Party”? You won’t even have to clean up the house! For additional ambience, have your son move the car he’s restoring out onto the front lawn and take off the tires. Oh, and now would be a perfect time to display that old toilet that your husband salvaged from the last remodel job he did. As a matter of fact, it would be the perfect thing to serve chili in!
A “hunting party” is also a good way to entertain, and gets the men involved, too. As the name implies, the men go out and bring back the meat portion of the meal. But before deciding on this type of theme, carefully consider where you live. For example, if you call New England home, you can expect to be serving deer, pheasant, duck, or partridge, or grouse. Down south, perhaps possum, squirrel, or alligator. However, if you live in Manhattan, you are likely to have a pot of rat, feral cat, pigeon, and stray dog to deal with, and your party will not progress much beyond the return of the happy hunters.
Step Three: Creating and sending the invitationsJust for the sake of consistency, let’s assume that you’ve decided to throw a “Landfill Party,” since this is, by far, the easiest one for the frugal beginner to throw. Invitations are a snap, and reflect your theme masterfully. Simply find a fast food place that serves on paper plates, and rummage through their trash until you have enough of them. Don’t worry about it if they are stained--you want them to have been used. And don’t forget utensils. You should have no trouble at all finding enough discarded plastic forks, knives, and spoons to cover your guest list.
Once you get them home, you may have to dry the paper plates off before you can write on them, so get some clothespins and pin them to your clothesline for about an hour. If you don’t have a clothesline, find someone in the neighborhood who does, wait until they leave for work, and use theirs—they’ll never know. And don’t forget to wash the plastic utensils!
Once the paper plates are dry, fish an old piece of charcoal out of your outdoor grill and handwrite the invitation. Don’t worry if it smudges a little. It’s all part of the effect, and the recipients will adore the personalized touch.Don’t, Don’t, DON’T spend money on stamps. Forget the mail service for your invitations. For the price of a box of Gummi Bears, your kids will be happy to get on their bikes and hand-deliver them. And if that doesn’t work, threaten to confiscate their computer games purchased in better times—that oughta do it.
Step Four: Party FoodInstead of shopping for food for this do, after the local restaurants in your area close, make the rounds. Take several plastic bags with you to separate meat, vegetables, salad, appetizers, and dessert, and start your dumpster diving. You won’t believe what is thrown away—often with only one or two bites taken out of it. You should only need about an hour to scavenge your entire menu. Then, take it all home, trim it up, discard anything rotten, and you’re good to go. And if you tell everyone that you’ve gone on the wagon, but your guests are welcome to B.Y.O.B, you’re covered there, too.
Step Five: Party FavorsThough it’s customary to provide party favors to your guests, it doesn’t have to break the bank. How about this: When you first decide on the date of your party, start saving the cardboard from inside toilet paper rolls. Next, go to a Dollar Store, where you can buy a whole bag of plastic skeletons for a buck, then place one skeleton in each roll, and fill it up with soil, then wrap each in salvaged aluminum foil, and voila! You have a miniature dump site for your skeletal “murder victim.” What could be more in keeping with your theme?
TOTAL PARTY COST: $1.00 plus tax.