How to Save Money When Throwing a Party

posted in: Holidays, Shopping Tips

Between game day gatherings and holidays parties, this time of year is prime for getting together (safely) with friends and family. Playing host can be fun, but without proper planning, you can end up shouldering a huge bill. Here are some tips to help you maximize the fun and minimize the expense. 



Be Strategic

  • Set a budget and faithfully stick to it. 
    • Make a list of all of your anticipated expenses like food, beverages, decorations, invitations, and favors. Food and drink are usually the biggest expenses, and with rising food prices you’ll want to add in a bit of padding.
  • Create a guest list
    • Make your list based on the number of people you can afford to host. Remember that keeping your guest list small will be much more affordable – and safer if you’re gathering indoors.  
  • Set an end time. 
    • The longer a party goes on, the more food, drink, and supplies you need to purchase. Make the time frame clear on your invitation. 

grill potluck


Save on Food

  • Rather than providing all the food yourself, host a potluck. This can be a fun way for your guests to share a favorite dish!
    • Create a sign-up list if you want to avoid duplicate dishes. 
  • For the food that you are providing, be a bit flexible so you can make adjustments based on what’s on sale.  
  • Buy in bulk
    • If you belong to a wholesale club, now is the perfect time to use it. Get food and snacks, serveware, paper goods, and desserts in bulk. Try not to over-purchase, but keep in mind that you get to stock your pantry with anything unused!
      •  Avoid getting condiments or spices in bulk unless you have future plans for them.
  • Think big
    • Rather than serving lots of smaller dishes, go for pots of stew or casseroles. Less work and less money.
  • Throw a midday event 
    • You can serve less food midday and you don’t necessarily have to provide alcohol.
  • Skip the pricey catering companies. 
    • Check out the catering menus at your local grocery stores like Publix or Kroger, or choose a fast-food favorite for a catering order like chicken nugget trays from Chick-fil-A or sandwich & salad platters from Firehouse Subs.
    • Cakes at wholesale clubs are super affordable. You can order a half-sheet cake from your local Costco for less than $20 and serve around 48 guests. 
  • Buy store brand snacks and trick ‘em out
    • No one will know the difference between store brand and big label snacks when you display them in serveware!



Save on Alcohol

  • Skip serving alcohol
    • The best way to save on drinks is to not buy them at all! Include BYOB on your invitations. Guests are usually happy to bring a beverage! 
  • If you do serve alcohol, keep it simple
    • Offer one beer and one wine option, or serve a signature drink like a big bowl of punch or spiked lemonade. 
  • Wholesale, wholesale, wholesale
    • In some states, you don’t have to be a member to buy booze at wholesale clubs so check with your local stores.
    • Buy the warehouse store brand. Costco has its own line of wine and spirits – Kirkland Brand. Most are fairly well-reviewed and the prices are excellent. Prices may vary by location, but 1.75L of Costco’s Kirkland Signature American Vodka has been spotted at $16.99 as compared to Tito’s, for example, which usually sells for upwards of $30, or Grey Goose which sells for around $59.
    • Costco’s Kirkland Signature craft beers are worth a look too. A 24-variety pack of Kirkland Craft Beers costs around $19.99, whereas a similar 24-pack assortment of craft beer from other stores will typically cost double that or more.  
    • Sam’s Club’s Member’s Mark spirits are a great deal too. Their tequila even received an “exceptional” rating in the 2019 U.S. Spirit Awards with 91 points. This 1.75L bottle of silver tequila costs around $20 compared to 1800 Silver, which typically costs in the $40 range. 
    • Buy the biggest size/quantity for the biggest savings. The good news is that alcohol doesn’t go bad!



Save on the Venue

  • Get creative with your location
    • If you can’t host a party in your own home, consider another free or low-cost space like a local park, the beach, or your place of worship. 
    • If you are celebrating outside, check if permits are needed first, and follow local guidelines regarding alcohol.



Save on Invitations

  • Send out e-invitations or set up a private group for invitees on Facebook. 
    • Unless you’re planning something like a wedding, there’s really no need for expensive printed invitations. Save the cost and come up with a fun graphic for free using a site like Canva.
    • If you don’t want to play designer, you can use free invites through sites like Paperless Post or or pay a very low fee for one of their fancier fee-based options.
    • Be sure to follow up with those who haven’t RSVP’d before you purchase food and supplies, so you can avoid over-purchasing.
  • If printed invitations are important to you, look to big box and online stores instead of boutique stationery stores.

party decorations


Save on Decor

  • Borrow your party supplies and decor
    • If you’re not uncomfortable asking for help, see if your friends or family have supplies they can loan to you! 
  • Or DIY (decorate it yourself) with what you have.
    • Use Youtube,, or other craft sites for how-to’s for DIY decor. Invest your time instead of your money into decorating for your event.
  • Keep it simple
    • When you stick to a single color or theme, you’re less likely to overspend buying a wide array of decorations. And if they’re neutral enough, you can use them again! Silver or gold decorations can be used for just about anything.  
  • If you’d prefer to buy decor, check Party City as there are lots of ways to save there.
    • Get 15% off when you spend $30 or more in-store or online when you sign up for Party City’s contact list
    • Check out Party City’s Coupons & Promotions section of their website. At the time of this writing, you can get 20% off personalized banners, yard signs, and invitations, among other deals!
    • Use Coupon Cabin to track the latest deals and promo codes at Party City
  • Or head to the Dollar Tree instead!
    • Dollar stores are a reliable source for party gear. The Dollar Tree, in particular, has a great selection of party supplies for incredibly low prices. For example, you can get all of your serveware bowls and platters for only $1 apiece (although Dollar Tree recently raised some of their prices to $1.50).



Save on Entertainment

  • Skip hiring a band or DJ. 
    • Make a Spotify playlist instead.  Pro tip: Ask guests to RSVP with their favorite party song. 
    • Set a theme or name a favorite band in Pandora or Amazon Music and enjoy the mix! 
  • Throwing a party with kids? 
    • Set up a simple crafts table with coloring books and play putty to keep kids entertained throughout your event.
    • Look up fun, simple party games for kids to play instead of hiring expensive entertainment providers. Consider traditional favorites like pin the tail, musical chairs, or a scavenger hunt.

friends together


Stay Focused

  • Remember the reason for your party. It’s about having fun, not impressing your friends with flash! When you stay focused on the goal of being together, you’re less likely to overspend. 

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Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who has specialized in smart shopping, personal finance, and retail for more than a decade. She has appeared on TV over 1,000 times; including Today Show, GMA3, NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates nationwide. She has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn, and her expert commentary has appeared in Forbes,, Kiplinger, Yahoo Finance, and numerous others.