Whether you’re having a party at home in honour of a loved one, a boozy birthday in a familiar pub function room or transforming your garden into a stylish summer reception venue, Function Fixers have a few tips on how you can save yourself a small fortune while still hosting a fantastic event.
Potluck is a fantastic way to cater your party with diverse, hearty and home-made food while spending almost nothing. Even if some of your guests don’t cook, the whole point is that everyone brings a dish – whether it be bought from the supermarket, or carefully crafted at home. This is a brilliant talking point, but here’s a top tip; you can make ‘food flags’ out of paper and cocktail sticks, so when your guests arrive, you can quickly ask them exactly what their dish is and label it accordingly – just to answer any questions your other grazing guests may have, and to avoid any dietary mishaps.
Naturally, being the host, you will be expected to provide some food of your own. Pasta, potatoes and rice and the best place to start in providing bulk food on a budget. You can create enormous and filling pasta salads, couscous stir-ups and jacket potatoes – which are all dishes that provide some consistency for your guests’ already eclectic plates, and are certain to bring all the other ingredients together.
Mark the invitation (or Facebook event, as it’s free!) with a very clear BYOB. However, since you’re hosting, it’s obviously not in your nature to be stingy. Head down to the supermarket a few days beforehand to get some good deals on spirits, mixers, wine and beer so you can greet your guests with a choice of drink on their arrival – on a beautifully decorated and carefully placed table in the hallway, perhaps! Then, you can occasionally walk around your party offering top ups, which is also a great excuse to mingle.
For light-hearted and inexpensive entertainment, the best way thing to do is to simply ask your friends. You’d be amazed how many people have sons, daughters, godchildren or friends who are up and coming musicians, artists or entertainers, and looking for the chance to get some exposure. You could visit your local pubs on Open Mic nights (perhaps even try hosting one of your own as a quirky party idea) and try to scoop up a keen young performer for a bargain price, or simply hand the stage to an enthusiastic young’un and his guitar. After all, nobody’s asked you to throw the party of the century here – as long as there are a good few singalongs, we Brits really are happy with simplified music. If you are happy to splash a little cash on a really good show, then we recommend the free entertainment sourcing service at Music for London.
To keep kids amused outside, simply collect paddling pools & water toys from your friends and family who have children, and designate a section of garden to transform into a mini water park. If they’re to stay indoors, never underestimate the power of Disney films accompanied by a range of both girls and boy’s toys. Again, ask around for donations for the day – and don’t forget, there are probably a fair few toys lying around in boxes that you yourself have forgotten about. Dig them out, dust them off, and watch in wonder as the little ones prove that the old toys are the best.
Dig through your boxes of festive decorations to try and find neutral, year-round items such as fairy lights, candlesticks and faux flowers. Also, if you have any extra household objects such as a lava lamp, or any other brightly coloured ornaments, then you could try and work them into the room as well. Every little touch counts, and don’t be afraid to play with the idea of swapping mirrors or picture frames from around the house on the walls in your party space to create a more bespoke environment. If your event is in celebration of a particular individual, why not rummage through the old photos to select the most charming (and embarrassing) pictures of your guest of honour? Then, of course, you can call in a few favours and ask your friends and family to lend any appropriate decorations they can. With a little thought and a good eye, you really can transform your pub function room, garden patio or cosy living room into a full-on private party venue.
Paper plates, cups and napkins are actually quite pricy once you add up total costs – it’s easy to spend £25 – £50 on these items, depending of course on the size of your event. If you’re lucky enough to own a dishwasher, why not ask friends to bring any cutlery and crockery they wouldn’t mind you using? Then you can simply return it to them sparkling clean and in the knowledge that you’ve spared a fair few trees from a dreadful fate. It can also give a really fun and quirky edge to the party if all the utensils, chairs, tables and plates are mismatched – it gives a real community atmosphere and adds plenty of colour.
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