Hosting a party can be fun, but it can also be quite expensive for hosts as well as guests if you are not careful, as expenses can quickly add up. What are some frugal, but fun, party etiquette tips that can help trim costs all round?
Trimming the Guest List
Not everyone can afford to feed their friends, as well as their friends’ children, partners, in-laws and second cousins. If you want to trim the guest list, it is perfectly acceptable to include “no dates please” or similar wording to that effect so that your guests do not end up bringing half their family with them.
Are Potlucks Acceptable?
Asking your guests to bring along their own meal can be awkward in some families and regions of the country where the hosts are expected to shoulder the responsibility of feeding and entertaining their guests, but in others, it is acceptable and even standard practice to ask guests to contribute to a potluck without coming across as rude or cheap. Just be sure to provide your own contribution to the potluck, such as roast beef or a selection of desserts.
Dinner menus tend to be more substantial, so if you are planning a dinner menu, offer a selection of buffet-style meal options from a variety of stations that guests can graze from. A big no-no would be to run out of food during the party, so always make sure you have plenty of food if you are planning a dinner party. If you are not able to provide enough food for a dinner party, plan your party at lunchtime. Lunch menus are lighter and can help you trim costs.
Some guests cannot imagine turning up to a party empty-handed. However, if you have included the stipulation not to provide a gift in the invitation, this will take the pressure off from guests who are strapped for cash and would otherwise have turned down the invitation. Even though you may still receive the odd bottle of wine or bunch of flowers from a few guests who have ignored the no gift-giving rule, making it clear that gifts are not required will alleviate the pressure from guests who are feeling the pinch.
It is still possible to have fun and host a party if you are working on a frugal budget. Start by trimming the guest list down and making it clear on the invitations that extra guests are not allowed. Potlucks can also help you to keep your costs low if it is acceptable to host a potluck in your region and with your family. Frugal menu ideas include hosting lunchtime parties, as guests will not be expecting a substantial meal for lunch. Finally, let your guests off the hook by letting them know that gifts are not necessary.
MilSpouse.com, The New Party Protocol. Top 10 etiquette rules for your cost-conscious party, by Sharon Naylor.