Five tips for planning the perfect summer party on a budget

Everyone loves a party (well, except for the British weather!), and it’s perfectly possible to throw a stylish bash without breaking the bank, particularly if you’re happy to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in yourself with the catering. Here are our budget-friendly tips for throwing a party that’ll be talked about all summer – for all the right reasons!

1. Decorations

Cheap, cheerful and colourful is the theme here!

For a daytime party, save pages from magazines or buy bright wrapping paper. Cut out large triangles, and use an iron on a cool setting to fold the triangle top over and iron in a crease. Fold the crease over a long piece of string and seal with a glue stick for bunting.

For an evening event, save empty jars before the party, give them a good wash out and soak off labels. Tie sturdy string around the rims, and hang them from tree branches or stand on top of walls, making sure there’s nothing over hanging to catch fire! Place a cheap tealight (around £2.99 for 100 from supermarkets) in each one. Place a few more on tables, as well.

2. Drinks

Providing decent quality drinks is probably the single most expensive aspect of throwing a party! An easy compromise is to ask your guests to each bring a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, and provide all the soft drinks. Try homemade lemonade or elderflower cordial, and freeze edible flowers or mint leaves into ice cubes to produce a pretty effect.

3. Seating

You may not think your guests will be sitting down much, but they’ll be grateful for the chance of a seat while eating or if they’re wearing uncomfortable shoes! If you don’t have enough chairs, provide some waterproof picnic rugs for lounging on.

If you live in the country, you can buy small bales of straw for around £2.50-£3 each which will each seat two people comfortably. Afterwards, you can use the straw for composting, dig it into the garden or even offer it back to the farm!

4. Crockery and glassware

Depending on the number of guests, you’ve got lots of options available if you don’t have enough glassware, crockery or cutlery. There are some very posh disposable options available these days, including eco-friendly wooden cutlery and recycled-paper plates. You could look into hiring crockery, although this does tend to be expensive.

Otherwise, trawl charity shops for crockery and glasses – everything will be a different size, shape and pattern, but this only adds to the charm! You could also go down the French party route, and ask each guest to bring their own plates and cutlery – this also entirely exonerates you from having to do any washing up.

5. Food

You can throw a great party on a budget if you don’t mind doing some or all of the catering. Rice salads (mix cooked rice with chopped apricots, chopped roasted peppers, pumpkin seeds, nuts, chopped cooked onions and chopped fresh parsley with a dressing made from equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil, with an added teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar) are cheap, colourful and filling.

Potato salads are another good option, and require very little cooking ability! Limit the amount of meat you serve, as that’s likely to be the expensive part. You can ‘eke’ meat out by turning chicken into coronation chicken or pie filling, or preparing kebabs where meat is teamed with lots of vegetables. Create a spectacular centrepiece by piling homemade cupcakes into a pyramid or onto a cake stand, and decorating the platter with fresh strawberries – cupcakes can be made and frozen plain a few weeks in advance, just defrost and decorate them on the day.

Now, it’s just fingers crossed for the weather!

All images: Pixabay


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