1. Invite people to bring their own
This could be the common practice of asking friends to bring ‘what you like to drink’ but you can add a really nice vibe to the affair by asking people to create something special and bring it along e.g. bake a cake to be judged alongside everyone else’s in the style of X Factor, or ‘everyone has at least one dish they’re a master of making, cook your speciality and bring it along and it will be swapped with another random party-goer – like a Secret Santa for dinner!’
2. Bulk out a buffet with cheap carbs that everyone loves
Whether it’s roast potatoes, rice, bruschetta, pasta or toasted pitta fingers everyone loves bulky carbs (unless they’re gluten-free or strict dieters) and these are by far the cheapest ingredients to buy and often the easiest to prepare.
3. Take time to prepare
As with your own food, a little time up front can save lots of money on pre-prepared food and will certainly result in tastier, healthier food. Don’t waste money on pre-cut vegetables, boil in the bag rice or pre-made mashed potatoes. Not only will people know (if they eat fresh food at home they definitely will!) but you’ll feel much better about your nibbles knowing you hand-crafted them.
4. Entertain with food-making
Have a themed night e.g. Mexican, and set out a table to create your own burritos. This requires rice, salsa, guacamole, black beans and chicken with a vegetarian alternative e.g. roast veg or Quorn pieces. You can ask people to bring Mexican drinks (tequila, beer, lemonade etc) to keep the costs low. This can work with many cuisines including Italian pizza, Chinese stir-fry or English sandwiches. Let your imagination run wild and create a memorable party!!
5. Plan with a budget
The first thing you have to do before you start is decide what you can afford to spend. Sounds obvious but many people neglect this crucial step and end up overspending. Once you know what you can afford you can work out the cost per person based on how many people are coming. The next step is to deduct the fixed, non-food costs as these are easier to calculate i.e balloons, disposable cutlery/crockery (only if you need it as it’s an expensive luxury!) and drinks. Whatever you have left will dictate the food you’ll be offering guests. As we said above, if you’re left with very little cash, cheap foods like potatoes, rice and pasta are often the most popular. Vegetables and meat are often cheaper if they’re in season and can be much cheaper from local stores.
Once you’ve settled the financial side of your party planning, the important thing is to have fun and rest easy knowing that the financial stress has been taken out by a little planning in advance.