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Party Planning on a Budget | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Party Planning on a Budget

“You’re one of the 3 cheapest people on the planet, and the other 2 are your friends,” my 14 year old son told me. I wear it as a badge of honor.

Our Convention Visitor’s Bureau spent more than $3,000 on their Christmas party, with a final tab totalling $219.95 per person attending. This blog won’t deal with the politics.

As one of the top 3 cheapos on the planet, listed below are ways I have organized cheap parties for volunteers that had good food and were fun.

Meat trays and pitch in: I purchased a ham on sale, had the grocery store slice it, and purchased bread store buns. Club members and volunteers brought drinks, snacks, desserts, and condiments. My daughter and I made ham trays.  Total cost to feed 25 people: $22, or 88 cents per person.  For entertainment, volunteers set up black light volleyball.

Soup and sandwiches: Bargain shopping at grocery and bread stores, we made meat and vegetable trays with ham, beef, and turkey for 70 volunteers, plus beef/vegetable soup, Texas sheet cake and apple crisp. Total cost: $200 to feed 70 people, or $2.86 per person.

Video game party: Last year, we had a free room for a video game party for club members. Members brought in video game equipment and systems. All food was potluck.  Total cost: $0 to feed 30 people, or $0 per person.

Laser tag party: we take 25 youth and volunteers to Walther’s for Laser Tag on cheap night. Two laser tag games cost $8 per person. Club members voted to pay for  laser tag instead of food. Total cost: $200 for 25 people, or $8 per person.

Pizza potluck pitch in: we ordered in pizza for a family night potluck, estimating 2 pieces of pizza per person, 4 people per pizza.  With 24 attending, we purchased 6 of the cheap $5 pizzas.  All other foods were brought in/donated by members and volunteers.  Total cost: $30 for 24 people, or $1.25 per person.

Cookie reception: With cookie receptions for my children’s choir, we were forced to purchase punch for $15 per gallon. So we ordered 3 gallons for $45 and asked parents to bring 2-3 dozen cookies per family.  After the reception, we donated leftover cookies to an area homeless shelter. Total cost $45 for 10o people, or $.45 per person.

Others ways to cut costs: hire a local caterer for the main foods. Prep the drinks and ask those attending to bring desserts/appetizers. That can cut @$3 per person from the final tab.

It’s easier to raise money and encourage others to save it when they see that you count every penny and make every penny count. I’m a volunteer. I organize volunteers. And I raise funds for non-profits.

If you have other suggestions for volunteer parties that cost less than $219.95 per person, please comment below. I would love to find some new ideas!


3 Responses to “Party Planning on a Budget”

  1. Josh W January 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Never, ever host a party where food service comes from Sodexo, Aramark, or their competitors. They wanted $300 for cookies and brownies for 100 people. Lesson learned on that one.

    For events like reunions, retirements, and graduations, don’t feel obliged to pay a baker for a large cake. It doesn’t take a lot of time to decorate a cake in your own kitchen, and your guests will probably appreciate the slightly less sweet taste.

    When hosting a “guy party” like the one I’m planning for Super Bowl Sunday, never buy a prepared party tray. Men won’t notice. Buy the veggies, meats, and cheeses yourself and turn any leftovers into deli sandwiches for lunch the next few days.

  2. Mary Biever January 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Josh, the party I planned with expensive punch was one where we were forced to use Sodexo to provide the punch. Was railroaded into organizing 1 dessert reception with them – a total rip – we charged $10/person for cookies, iced tea, & lemonade, and it cost $9.90 per person for them to provide it.
    My daughter & I roll the meat for platters, and they look as nice as any deli’s.

  3. bgkahuna January 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Before we make these changes. I would like to be invited to this party.

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