6 ways to throw an inexpensive, stress-free party

Entertaining comes easily to some people, but to others it's a minefield of unexpected work and expense. Once you adopt these simple ideas, you'll find that your parties will be a pleasure for both you and your guests.

6 ways to throw an inexpensive, stress-free party

1. Email your invite

In other words, replace paper invitations with quickly made and often free invitations sent by e-mail.

  • You'll find hundreds of templates online that you can personalize.
  • Your guests can view the guest list, print directions, and RSVP to you via e-mail.

2. Decorate with what you have

  • Set the stage with soft music and dimmed lights and add a few candles as a mood-enhancer.
  • Try adding a decorative element that you already own by the front door to set the mood for the party.
  • Put on a themed hat to move the theme from room to room.

3. Keep the party moving

Help guests mingle by putting food and drinks at opposite ends of the room. Guests will have to move to get to both, and may end up chatting with someone they bump into on the way.

  • Place food strategically in other rooms, too, so not everybody congregates in one room in predictable groups.
  • Providing fewer chairs than guests will also help keep people mingling.

4. Try a food-themed party

Simplify the work and expense of giving a party by choosing a theme for the food you serve.

  • Make it a dessert party, a brunch party or even a high tea.
  • You'll be amazed by how easy and inexpensive it can be — and by how your guests like to participate by bringing food that fits the theme.

5. Plan accordingly

Figuring out how much food and drink your guests will consume can be tricky: plan too little, and you'll be mortified; plan too much, and you'll be eating and drinking leftovers for weeks to come. Consider a few guidelines:

  • Hors d'oeuvres. Plan for four per guest if you're serving a meal; eight if the party is meal-less.
  • Drinks. Assume that each guest will have three drinks. You'll get five or six glasses out of a bottle of wine and 16 cocktails out of a bottle of spirits.
  • Main meals. Anticipate that each guest will consume 175 grams (six ounces) of meat, 125 grams (1/2 cup) of each side dish, and a handful of lettuce for a side salad.
  • Dessert. Figure that a nine-inch dessert — whether a cake, pie or tart — will serve 8 to 10 people.

6. Hire help

Hiring someone to help you with party details gives you more time to enjoy your guests. He or she can help pass hors d'oeuvres, serve dinner and clean up after the meal.

  • Your helper can also do chores that pop up at the last minute: run to the store for extra ice, find a vase for unexpected flowers and help departing guests locate their coats.
  • You'll be glad for the help and the time to spend with your friends.

Throwing a party for any event doesn't have to be stressful or expensive. There are some simple tips and tricks you can use to ensure everyone has fun at your next bash, including you.

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