You can have a fabulously designed and decorated party, even on the smallest budget - as we like to say, Great Parties are in the Details, Not the Dollars! Here are some great tips and ideas for getting the most out of your decorating and entertaining dollars.
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6 Tips for decorating on a budget... The most important thing to remember when decorating is that you should pick one theme or color scheme and stick with it throughout your room or venue. Without some sort of coordination it looks like a hodge-podge, or even a mess. If you are on a budget, start with the inexpensive items that add big splashes and work down to the details.
Tablecloths cover large areas and set your color tone. Always use the same color tablecloths together - don't mix and match unless you are incorporating more than one color as part of your theme; such as using white on the guest tables and pink on the buffet, or alternating pink and yellow. Never use more than one color tablecloth on the same table unless one tablecloth is being used as an overlay, on top of the other tablecloth. Paper tablecloths are much less expensive than renting linens. There are even paper tablecloths that have the look and feel of linen, "like-linen" tablecloths. No matter what, do not use plastic. Although it is the least expensive option, it cheapens the look of the entire party.
Paper Napkins are a great decorating tool. Choose a complimentary color that coordinates with your tablecloths or a pattern that plays to your theme. If you start with a patterned napkin, choose a primary color in that pattern for your plates, tablecloths and other tableware. Use lunch sized napkins over dinner or buffet size. They are appropriate for all occasions, but less expensive. You can also use your patterned napkins inside cups that hold silverware or as liners for baskets that hold breads, rolls, muffins, cookies, favors, etc., to bring more decoration to your table. Also, you can alternate patterned napkins & solid napkins to cut down on the overall cost. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you an instruction sheet on how to create napkin fans on a buffet table for a great decorative touch!
If you are using paper plates choose solid over patterned as they are less expensive. If you have chosen solid napkins and you feel as if you need a little pizazz, get patterned lunch plates and solid salad/dessert plates or the other way around. You can also use patterned napkins and cups together with solid plates as a more economical way to go. Set To Celebrate has created a variety of tableware packages at different price points doing just this. Whatever you do, choose one shape of plate - do not mix square and round plates.
Spread your decor effectively. In a perfect world, you would have enough decorations to use throughout your room or venue. However, even on a budget you can make your entire room feel like a celebration.
-Colored votive candles carry your color around the room and add sparkle (Remember scented candles should not be used where people are eating - you may like the scent, but others may not).
- Balloons are festive and cheap. Balloons are not just for kids parties anymore. Set To Celebrate carries balloons with a pearl finish that can look very elegant. You can even get them in evening colors like black, silver and gold. Create balloon bouquets with 3 to 5 balloons in 2 colors and spread them throughout the room. Make sure the balloon ribbon matches the color of the balloon it is tied to for a more elegant look.
Is it a sit-down event? Tie a balloon to the back of each chair. Just make sure that they are blown up to the same size and are tied at the same height or in some sort of pattern (Low & High - every other chair or in an arch with the lowest balloons on the end chair and the highest on the middle chair or chairs. Also curling the last 9" to 12" of ribbon that hangs off the balloon creates a really nice, finished look. You can also curl the other ends of the ribbon that you will be tying to your balloon holders or furniture.
- Set To Celebrate's customers love our custom, personalized banners. Have a banner made just for your event. You can personalize it with any name or phrase and choose from different dividers between the words, including photos! They are inexpensive and can cover a lot of wall space.
Where should I have my baby shower?...
Logically, having a shower at your home will be the most cost-effective. However, if you cannot accommodate the number of people attending or are not comfortable having the party at your home, see if another guest is willing to offer. You may lose some control over the party details, but it can represent a significant cost savings. If this does not work out, here are some other options:
1. A bar/restaurant that has a happy hour may allow you to take over a seated area and bring a cake and some desserts with the idea that either you or your guests will be purchasing the drinks. Since you will have very little expense, you may even be able to pick up the tab which you can pre-specify as soft drinks and wine and/or beer. In many places, bars and restaurants are smoke-free so there are no issues for the guest of honor and her new little one. Pick a place without a loud or very young crowd. You can probably also bring a few decorations like a banner, a centerpiece, decorative cocktail napkins, decorative plates for the cake and balloons.
2. If you live in an area with perpetually nice weather, have your shower in a local park, just make sure it is not too hot for the new mom or that she has too walk too far. Find a nice picnic table or two under a tree, cover it with a paper tablecloth, add a nice centerpiece and have a relaxed picnic. You can ask other guests to bring menu items like salads and drinks or desserts. This is a great way to celebrate a shower for a second baby as it is the kind of party that everyone can attend, including the men and the children.
3. If it is a small party, ask the other guests if they would mind going to a restaurant. Everyone can pay for their meal and either all split the mommy's or you could pay for her as part of your responsibility as host.
You can probably bring a centerpiece and balloons as well as decorative napkins. If you are against a wall they may even allow you to put a banner up.
Different party ideas for different budgets... Don’t just choose your menu based on a budget, choose the time of day and type of party you are having based on your budget as well. First and foremost, don’t call the party at a time when people expect a full meal.
- Have people for a Dessert Buffet at 8pm.
- Have Cocktails & Hors d'oeuvres, or Wine & Cheese in the late afternoon before dinner or at 8 or 9pm, and serve a themed cocktail (make sure there is a non-alcoholic version so the new mom can enjoy it as well!) or wine and beer instead of having an open bar. If you plan it for the evening, make sure that the guest of honor can stay up late enough - pregnant women are notoriously tired. Also be careful of cheeses that are not pasteurized. Although unpasteurized cheeses are generally found only at gourmet shops, they are dangerous for mommy and baby.
- Have a Continental Breakfast with muffins, croissants, wonderful breads and preserves, cheeses and coffee, tea and juice. You can even have one hot dish such as an egg souffle.
- Have a Snack Fest. Invite everyone to enjoy all the snacks and junk food from their youth – fill the table and room with Doritos, Cheetos, M&Ms, Flavored Popcorn, Cheese Wiz & Crackers, Twizzlers, etc. Play some great music and serve a great themed drink. What pregnant woman can't appreciate a little junk food (Make sure you find out what she is craving and make that the signature dish!). To have something a little more substantive, order a couple of pizzas with different toppings and cut them into bite-sized pieces. This is a great party idea for a co-ed baby shower, or a baby shower for the dad!
Luncheon or dinner on a budget
Use more expensive items such as meats or fish as an element in a larger dish such as a pasta salad with chicken. Sandwiches and wraps also use less meat than serving whole chicken breasts as an example. Preparing sandwiches ahead of time versus having trays of meats, cheeses or fish will also cut down. You would be surprised at how much people can pile onto a sandwich. Just make sure you have a selection of both meats, and non-meat items such as tuna fish, egg salad, cheese, etc. and use nice condiments and breads. There are wonderful gourmet sandwich shops all around – go on-line and search “gourmet sandwiches” to get ideas. Some of our favorites are:
Turkey with Brie and Honey Mustard; Broiled Chicken with Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato & Lemon Garlic Mayonnaise; Italian Tuna salad with Provolone, Lettuce and Tomato; Mozzarella, Grilled Portabello Mushrooms and Roasted Pepper; and Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil. Mix up some mayonnaise with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar as a compliment.
Brunch food on a budget.
If you are having a bagel brunch on a budget, instead of ordering a smoked fish tray, serve different cream cheese options such as lox cream cheese (you can even make it yourself by chopping up smoked salmon and mixing with plain cream cheese), chive cream cheese, vegetable cream cheese and don’t forget our lactose-intolerant friends and have a little tofu cream cheese for them. Have your focal point be a beautiful vegetable tray with sliced tomato, onions, cucumber and red peppers, and serve some inexpensive salads such as egg salad & tuna salad whitefish salad.
Using themed or more expensive tableware on a budget...
We love to mix themed and solid tableware - not just to be budget-conscious, but because we also think that in many cases it looks better. Here are a couple cost cutting ideas for mixing and matching tableware:
- Choose the standard, solid color plates and a great themed lunch napkin. Use a complimentary solid beverage napkin instead of the themed. You will still get the theme across but the cost will be significantly less.
- Mix themed and solid napkins. Split the napkins evenly between themed and solid (you can do this with both lunch and beverage napkins). If you are having a buffet, layer the napkins; 1 themed, 1 solid and then themed again (see our "Photo Gallery" party "Eva is 1" for a great example of how one of our customers used this type of layering). You can also roll your silverware in the napkins and alternate themed and solid - this looks wonderful in one of our "Buffet Baskets". Alternating also works great for beverage napkins for passed hors d'oeuvres. If you are having a seated party, set the table alternating themed and solid napkins at each place setting.
- Choose a themed dessert plate and solid lunch plate with solid napkins as long as the plates are the same shape (don't mix square and round plates as an example). You can also consider adding in the themed cups if budget permits. Look at our "Tableware" section to see how we have mixed solid and themed tableware to create wonderful tableware packages at different price points.