A blog about keeping yourself and your expenses lean in Oakland County, Michigan.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Repost: How to Have a frugal Party

When expenses are tight it can be hard to find entertainment that will fit into your budget. Having people over your home for an event or party is a great way to spend time with friends and family but you have to be sure to control the costs. What are some ways you can do that?

1. Don’t be afraid to go potluck. Now I am pretty fortunate because between my group of friends I don’t think they are aware that parties go on without them being potluck. They have no problem contributing. However if you’ve never tried it before an unassuming way to do it is to use evite and click on the “Ask guests to bring something” invitation option.

There you simply input things you would like guests to bring and when they RSVP they can choose from the items.

2. (Speaking of evite . . .) Skip sending out formal invitations. If your friends read their emails regularly send an email via Evite or create your own flier and send it email. Evite is good because when you log in it will tell you who has viewed the invite and on what date. If you see that some have not viewed it yet then you can call them or send them a formal invitation. Although some people many not think it falls in line with proper etiquette I know someone that recently sent their wedding invitation via evite. They sent an evite for their wedding shower and then all those that responded received another evite for the wedding. Close family and older friends that didn’t have email still received a formal invite in the mail but the bulk received only an evite invitation.

3. Plan in advance and work your stockpile. I have a very long way to go when it comes to healthy eating but there are some things that we have cut out. I rarely drink pop and never have it on hand nor do we usually have potato chips. So I started working these things and looking for deals on them about 6 weeks before I had my super bowl party knowing that is what the average person eats and drinks. Here’s a picture of my Superbowl spread:

Here’s a little breakdown of things I served:

Pita Chips – Free already on hand purchased from VGs within last month
Pretzels – Free purchased the week of at shopping trip at VGs
Tortilla Chips, Planters, cups, bowls, other nuts, bottled water and pepperoni – grabbed from stockpile bought a while back
Hummus - $.50 purchased within last month at VGs
Feta Cheese - $1.89 purchased within last month at VGs
Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers (2) – free
Light Ranch Dip - $.50 purchased that week at VGs
Napkins - $1.39 purchased that week at Kroger
Chex Mix – Free purchased within last month from Kroger
Multigrain Crackers – Free purchased within last month from Kroger

Things not pictures: Barbacue Meatballs - $.90 at VGs bought that week, BBQ free and grabbed from stockpile
Large Salad - $5.00 from Aldi’s
Dressings – Grabbed from stockpile
Cheese – Free bought within last month at Meijer
Taco Dip – Hormel Turkey Chili – Free, 3 jars of salsa – two free one $.50, one can of Rotel – free, cream cheese – free, 1 ½ packs of cheese slices – free
Beer - $12.49 (not all of it was drunk and will be submitting for rebate so actual final cost will be at least $7.50 less)
Pop – 5 – 12 packs bought or 60 cans bought at CVS for about $18 (used some ECBs) for about $.30 a can plus deposit (Not all of it was drunk and also needed for rebate so actual final cost will also be about $7.50 less)

So my total out of pocket was about $40 to provide various snacks, pop and beer to my guests and this was purchased over the period of at least 4 weeks. (An average of $10 a week very easy on the budget and easy to squeeze in I believe.) I still have snacks and pop left and they will be set out again for my parents’ anniversary reducing my out of pocket costs for that as well. In addition I will be submitting for a $15 rebate bringing my final out of pocket to $25.

4. Use House Party to fund part of your party. One thing I neglected to mention above was that I also had 6 free pizzas from Digiorno as my main food item by signing up and being chosen to throw a Digiorno Game Day House Party. House Party is a company that works with manufacturers and connects them with consumers interested in their products and based on certain criteria. These consumers are then sent coupons to try the products for free with the intention of inviting their friends over to their “house party.” This then provides free word of mouth marketing on behalf of the company to their friends. I must admit the first House Party I heard about I wasn’t too impressed with, but one came along that I did like. I have applied to several and will be throwing my next one soon which I’m sure I will be using to supplement a gathering I already have on schedule. Check out this great review on house party here.

5. Use Everyday Low Price Stores and Warehouse Type stores when your flexibility is limited. What do I mean by that? Well one of the first tenets you learn when saving money through smart shopping is to be flexible. If you can shop at different stores, give up brand loyalty and the like you will save more money in the long run. But there are certain situations that can put a strain on that. Sometimes it is just the quantity of people, if you have a larger group you just may not have enough in your stockpile or enough coupons to find sale items to support it. For example I have a gathering coming up that is semi-formal and there are several things I am bringing that I have bought in advance as I do for my other parties like tea, pop, creamer, salad dressing and sweeteners. However I am also bringing a salad for 30 people. Normally for my household consumption, the week I intend to eat it, I’d by the cheapest salad at a store ($.99 or below) and if there are no sales that week get if from Aldi’s. But in this case because it is a semi-formal, I want to do an upscale salad bar with every option imaginable. So in this case my plan is to hit a warehouse type store (Costco, Gordon Foods, Sam’s) and purchase in bulk. Anything I can’t find I will get from Aldi’s. Most people report that large quantities or frequently consumed quantities of dairy, produce, and some specialty products are bought for the best price at warehouse type stores.

Another example is a theme party. If someone asked me to make rice for a party no problem, but if they wanted me to make Chinese-style Chicken Fried Rice I may be better off purchasing it at Gordon Food Service. Or perhaps you have a child that must have a theme party. It might be good to check an everyday low price store like Dollar General, Family Dollar or Wal-Mart. As with all smart shopping endeavors try to shop around for the best price.

You can also try clearance sections of specialty store both in person and on-line.
So what ways do you minimize your Entertainment expenses?

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