There’s no need to max out your credit cards or drain your bank account to have a good time with your friends and family. Here are some ideas on how to throw a party on a budget.

Developing the Invite List

The smaller the list, the easier your expenses will be to manage. Intimate parties, where everyone enjoys each other’s company, are the ones your guests will remember. Aim for no more than 15 guests and your costs will be easily managed.

Then decide how much you would like to spend per guest. If you can keep costs down to $20 per guest, you can throw this party for $300. If that sounds like a lot, consider bringing in a co-host who can carry some of the load and help pump up the party. Throwing a party on a budget doesn’t have to fall to you alone.

Selecting the Invitations

Unless it’s a big wedding or a bar mitzvah, nobody is expecting calligraphy. In today’s digital world, a simple email will do. If you’d like to show a little more style, there are plenty of online services and tools that will allow you to do something more creative — many of which are free.

Take a look at, and — to name a few. The most difficult part may be choosing a template from among all the amazing choices.

Choosing a Venue

You may be able to find a local watering hole where you can meet up with your guests for free. Put out an invite on your social media accounts and see who shows up. Your friends can take turns picking up tabs, keeping your costs really low.

After that, of course, there’s no place like home. And no matter what your home is like, remember that your party likely will end up where most parties end up — in the kitchen. Be prepared to do much of your entertaining there.

Managing the Menu

Serving food will keep the alcohol bill lower and provide your guests with a safer experience. Avoid sit-down dinners, opting for small plates of hors d’oeuvres. The internet is filled with inexpensive party recipes, and big box club shopping stores are well stocked with heat-and-eat finger foods.

Start with cut-up vegetables and serve with your favorite dressings or dips. Add bowls of chips as well as cheese and crackers. If you lay out a lot of inexpensive choices, your guests will fill up before you roll out the pricier fare.

If all of this sounds like too much, consider hosting a potluck. When everyone brings their favorite dish, it’s not just a party, it’s a feast.

Providing Beverages

You don’t have to stock a full bar to have a successful party. Consider settling on a theme drink, such as frozen margaritas or vodka martinis. You can expand the choices by adding beer, wine, bottled water, and soft drinks.

And here’s where it pays to be prepared for the question many of your guest will ask: “Can I bring anything?” The answer should be, “absolutely.” They’ll be happy to bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer, adding to the fun and further reducing the cost. In some cases, your bar might even be well stocked for the next party you throw on a budget.

Creating the Mood

There’s nothing like having your own playlist to create the atmosphere you want. Your music collection and some basic Bluetooth speakers can go a long way. Consider inexpensive decorations that are available from party stores and general merchandisers. Also think about lighting. Dimming the lights and adding a few inexpensive candles can set an elegant mood.

Remember, it’s not about the money you spend. What people will remember most about your party is your company and how much everyone enjoyed being with one another.

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