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Plan a Showstopper Event on a Shoestring Budget

The brighter side of going through lean economic times is that it makes us all more resourceful. And when it comes to planning an event—whether it’s a corporate occasion or a personal party—that resourcefulness comes in especially handy! A skinny budget does not have to mean sacrificing the event you are envisioning. In fact, finding inventive ways to put together the party you have planned can make it even more memorable.

“Style does not have to be compromised just because a budget may be small,” says Tammie Brooks, owner of The Event Salon. “Be open to the possibilities. At the end of the day, the event should reflect who you are.” By following a few key tips, you can achieve just that on any size budget.

Get organized. Nothing will make a small party budget shrink faster than lack of a clear plan. It may feel like a chore if you’re eager to skip ahead to selecting decor and sampling cocktails, but organization is the key to maximizing your entertaining dollar. Start by setting a well-defined budget, and remember to track every expenditure as you go. It’s very easy to get swept up in the event excitement and end up blowing a hole in your bank account.

Be selective.One of the toughest tasks in the party-planning process can be deciding how many people to invite. Almost as difficult is estimating how many you actually expect to turn out for the event. Be as realistic as possible and stay focused on your goal of maximizing your money when you consider how many and who to include on the guest list. Put this together with your budget to determine an amount to be spent per guest that feels comfortable to you.

Think quality, not quantity.Where food is concerned, quality definitely wins out over quantity. It is important to make sure there will be more than enough food for everyone to enjoy, of course. But keep the number of selections limited while ensuring the spread is superb. Keep plates small and offer miniature and individual versions of each food item to make sure each guest receives a delicious and satisfying taste of everything. Keeping alcohol selections limited to beer and wine, perhaps with one signature cocktail for the event, will keep beverage costs under control.

Set the scene.When searching for the perfect spot for your event, look for a venue that fits the theme and tone of your event as closely as possible. If you can find one that offers equipment and accoutrements such as tables, chairs, linens, and serving ware, it is a wonderful way to save on rental costs. If you do not feel music is a central part of your event, check to see if the venue has a sound system that will enable you to play your own tunes from your iPod.

DIY the decor.Repurposing is one of the best, most unique ways to bring life to your event. You will end up with a look that is completely your own, while astounding your guests with your creative prowess. You can find loads of tips, tricks, and ideas for DIY and repurposing projects on the web, particularly on helpful inspiration-sharing sites like Pinterest.

Enlist Mother Nature’s help.It is amazing what fresh flowers can do to brighten and freshen an event location. Selecting fresh flowers and creating stunning floral arrangements will give your event a beautifully natural feel. For the best-looking buds at the budget-friendliest prices, it is best to choose flowers that are in season. Pick your perfect floral arrangement by discussing selections with your floral designer or doing a bit of quick research online.

Light it up.Just by making a few adjustments to the lighting, you can completely change the look of your space. Using colored light bulbs in particular is a wonderful way to turn an everyday space into a relaxing, stylish venue with a fun vibe. And never underestimate the power of candles to bring beauty, warmth and drama to a space. Plus, candles double as decorations—a nicely-put-together candle centerpiece completes any tabletop or buffet.

Hire a pro.When facing the challenge of planning a budget-friendly event, it can be tempting to think DIY-all-the-way is the only way to go. But there are so many details that go into making an event memorable. An experienced professional has the skills, knowledge and resources to make sure every detail is thought through; every contingency is planned for, and every loop is closed. A well-chosen professional planner provides the focus, calm head and top-notch team to ensure that every event is a joyful, worry-free celebration for everyone. And a sharp pro will know all the insider secrets for creating a wonderful event without draining your wallet.