Friday, July 27, 2018

You Don't Have To Stress Or Spend A Lot Of Money When You Keep Things Simple

Early last month, a friend of mine reached out. She was in dire need of some advice. Long story short, her daughter graduated from college. My friend wanted to host a graduation party for her. She has a large family and circle of friends. They had been hounding her. Asking when she was going to throw a graduation party. She had no problem hosting a graduation party. It's something she wanted to do for her daughter. However, she's on a strict budget and after a slip and fall accident last winter, her back is still on the mend.

"I was out of work for a couple of months. I'm still trying to catch up. I don't have the money to throw an extravagant graduation party like I did when she graduated high school. Plus, it takes me much longer to do simple tasks. 

I know that you're experienced with hosting events on a budget and it takes you longer to do things because of chronic pain. If you have any ideas on how I can make this graduation party happen, I would really appreciate it."

I was more than happy to share what I've learned over the years when hosting larger parties...

1. Don't go overboard with decorations. Seriously. Don't. Not only are they expensive, but they get tossed in the trash afterward. It's a waste of money. When we do opt for decorations, we head to the Dollar Tree. They have a huge assortment of decorative balloons and other festive touches and they're only $1 each.

2. Skip the printed invites. Send virtual invites. For Lisa's 50th birthday bash coming up in August, I created an invitation with PowerPoint. That's what I sent to people individually. For those friends and family who don't have social media, a phone call will do just fine.

3. Make it a Potluck Party. Growing up, every gathering we went to was potluck style. Everyone brought something whether asked or not. I know potluck style parties are going out of style. And sadly, the younger generations tend to show up empty-handed. However, there's nothing wrong with having a potluck party. That way, you're not stuck providing and making everything and you'll have a wide assortment of foods.

4. BYOB. To most, that means "bring your own beer." In my world, it means "bring your own beverages." That includes alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. That saves you the hassle and expense of having to provide a world of beverages and the waste that goes along with that.

5. Keep it simple. In my book, simple foods are the best. You don't need to spend hours and a ton of money on elaborate appetizers, main courses, and desserts. In May, we hosted a graduation party for a dear friend of ours. We made an assortment of finger sandwiches and salads. A couple of the guests brought fruit salad and a vegetable platter. Everyone raved about the food. It was simple fare and I was able to make 90% of it the day before.

6. Make your own cake or cupcakes. In this day and age, you can spend a small fortune on both. A friend of mine who was recently married paid over $300 for a display of cupcakes and a tiny cake. She said both tasted as if they were made several days prior. They were not impressed. It's definitely worth making your own. I'll be making Lisa's cupcakes for her big 50th birthday party. For right around $20, I can make an assortment of fresh, gourmet cupcakes that will impress our guests.

7. Opt for buffet style. That's what we always do. We put the food out on the table and counters. Grab a plate, napkin, utensils. Make your own plate. Eat. Enjoy.

8. Your home. Your rules. Don't be afraid to highlight a few rules or enforce specific requests. For example, if you have a pool, but you don't want it opened for the duration of the party, let people know the pool will not be available. For Lisa's 50th birthday bash, I included on the virtual invitations that it was a 21+ party. Our friends are older. We don't want youngins running around. I don't want the parents of small kids to be telling other guests to watch their mouths.

My friend thanked me for my tidbits of advice and she kept me posted on the happenings. The party was a couple of weekends ago.

"I can't thank you enough. It was potluck style and BYOB. My daughter and her friends came over the night before and made all of the cupcakes. They made a night of it. They treated me to pizza and beer. We made memories. 

The party was incredible. Everyone brought dishes and desserts. We had enough food to feed an army. A lot of the guests exchanged recipes throughout the party. I've always believed that food creates bonds between people and my daughter's graduation party reflected that.

After everyone ate, a lot of the guests started putting food away and brought out desserts. We had a lot of laughs because people kept searching for Tupperware covers and plastic wrap. I ended up running out of plastic wrap so a neighbor ran home to grab her roll.

Overall, my daughter's graduation party was a huge success. I kept it simple and was able to prepare most of the food before my daughter and her friends arrived to make cupcakes the night before. I spent a lot less than I had anticipated too."

Stuff like this makes my day.

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