Plucky parties

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

No. Really!

Teri says that party planning doesn't have to be expensive and or stressful. Her effortless guidelines of party planning on a budget: early preparation and making a checklist. It's that simple. Here are just a few fun party ideas that won't break your budget this summer.

The essential backyard BBQ (Or, "Did I invite you to my BBQ? Then why you all up in my grill?")

The best part of the summer is being able to enjoy the company of your friends and family while enjoying the warm summer weather. Some fun and helpful tips:

  • START EARLY. Whether ya want burgers or savory chicken on the grill, it's always best to shop at your local supermarket and freeze the items before hand. Beat the summer holiday rush and plan ahead. You also don't want to be caught in a full-blown sweat at the store why does that always happen?
  • CHECK OUT THE SUPERMARKET. They have a lot of great prepared dishes for you to start off with and add to. Save yourself some time and money and throw a fabulous party on a budget. Take them out of the to-go containers and on to a funky plate. No one will know they're not homemade but you!
  • BARTER AN. HAGGLE! Try talking with your local bakery or flower shop to possibly get great deals on decorations or baked goods to give the BBQ all the right finishing touches. Never pay full price for anything. It may feel awkward asking, but soooo worth it.
  • MAKE IT A TAPAS PARTY. Assign every guest some kind of small hors d'oevres to bring (a fun kabob, mini-hamburgers) or appetizer. Finger food is always a party favorite and if everyone brings a little bit, then you'll have variety at a low cost.
  • COOKING PARTY. The best way to show off your great cooking skills is to cook with your friends. Have all your party guests bring all their ingredients to your home and cook together. Everyone will learn how to make your dish; it's cost-effective and something new! It becomes both the entertainment and the meal for the party.
  • TASTINGS. Instead of focusing on the food and providing all the alcohol (we know THAT'S the most important part), have guests bring a unique bottle of wine and serve them at the party. To make it a little more interesting, host a tasting of the wines your guests brought. At the end of the night, have guests vote on their favorite. Serve light food, such as cheese and crackers or hors d'oevres to keep it simple and inexpensive.
  • THAT ONE INGREDIENT. Reminiscent of the Food Network hit Iron Chef, try getting creative with your guests. Provide one main ingredient (such as steak, fish, or whatever) and have your guests bring the rest. Have them prepare the dishes in front of you and everyone can vote on the best dish. It gives everyone a chance to try something new and leaves everyone sharing in the cost. And no scary Chairman to judge just friends.
  • FIND A NEW MEETING PLACE. Instead of spending the time and money getting your house put together for a party, try hosting a party at a public park or pool. Have all the guests bring something to eat and drink. Have someone in charge of bringing portable speakers to play some music and its' a perfect, no mess, budget-friendly party!
Kids' celebrations (or, "How do I get these sticky children out of my hair?"

If you have kids' parties this summer there's no reason that you have to break your bank to throw a great party that kids will never forget.

  • MAKE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO. Try hosting a "make your cupcake/cake party" for the kids. Guests at the party can help design and bake their own sweet treats. It acts as both the activity and the dessert for the kids and adults that attend.
  • ACCESSORY SWAP. Everyone knows that kids love to pick out the theme for their birthday celebration and chances are one of their other friends already had the same idea. Try borrowing or bartering with parents to exchange and use the decorations. Reusing and recycling these products also cuts down on waste in the environment. And that's fashionable right now, dears.
  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Try having the party in your house or outside in your own backyard. That way you'll save money on renting out a party room or paying your public pool to host the party. If it's hot, bring out the sprinklers and enjoy frozen summer treats like ice cream and cool drinks. Cute idea: Make your own sundae parties.
  • HIRE SOME HELP. Hire some local teens or babysitters to help host the party, so you can keep the kids entertained and then the teens can help with clean up! You also won't have to spend extra money on children's entertainers or party planners. Those teens are so malleable!
  • GAMES. The best part about kids' birthday parties is the games and boy are they essential for the event. Instead of going out and purchasing all new games, try setting up "game stations" with board games that you already own. Invite parents of the invited kids over to help supervise, (depending on the age) and rotate stations once each game is complete. It keeps the kids entertained, but your budget in tact.
  • MAKE YOUR OWN piata! One of the most popular birthday party items is the piata! Who wouldn't love to whack an object hung from a tree and have candy pour out? Instead of spending money on a store-made piata, have the kids at the party make their own piatas and help them stuff it themselves. It's cost effective for you and even more fun for them.
  • ARTS AND CRAFTS. At the supermarket you can find hundreds of items that you can use for creative arts and crafts projects for the party guests to enjoy at great prices. From paper bag puppets to paper mache dolls and macaroni creations, it's fun for all ages and allows guests to take home their masterpieces at the end of the party.

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