Friday, February 6, 2009

Money Saving Party Ideas

Money Saving Party Ideas

Plan a Party that Fits in Your Budget
By Donna Pilato,

We have all experienced those times when we want to have a party but finances are tight. As you begin to create your guest list, you become excited about the prospect of entertaining. Thinking about the things you'll have to buy to pull off this party, the excitement comes to an abrupt halt. There are invitations, paper goods, decorations, food, drinks, the list becomes a deal breaker. But it doesn't have to if you reconsider your approach to this party. There are many things you can do to keep your party budget under control.

Set a Budget

Don't even begin to plan your party before you decide on your budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on your party - then stick to it. The total budget will help you decide on the style of party you can host, and will protect you from that after-party budget hangover.

Don't Mail Invitations

Send email invitations instead. Besides saving on the expense of a purchased invitation card, with the cost of postage seemingly increasing every other month, it makes good sense to turn to electronic invitations for all but the most formal events. The added benefit of using online invitation sites is that they will help you to manage your responses.

Good Riddance to Disposables

Even the least expensive paper plates, cups, and plastic cutlery will quickly add up. You can save on that expense by using your regular dinnerware, flatware, and glassware. Don't be afraid to mix and match if you don't have enough pieces in one set to serve all of your guests. Eclectic tables can be very stylish as long as you put pieces together with a little thought. Still don't have enough pieces? Ask your best friend if you can borrow some dinnerware or flatware, and you can return the favor someday. Not only will this save on expenses, it's also good for the environment.
Choose a Little Less Convenience for the Produce

It's tempting to pick up those little packages of pre-washed, pre-cut fruits and veggies, but they come at a price. Buy your produce in bulk and prep it yourself to save on your party grocery bill. It usually lasts longer, and stays fresher if you wash and cut your produce closer to the party date. And while we're on the subject of produce, always choose produce that is in-season for your area. That's where you'll find the best deals.
Pasta, Rice and Potatoes - The Sneaky Three Dollar Stretchers
Traditionally these three starches have been the keys to stretching a dollar. Salads, side dishes, and casseroles made with these ingredients will be budget-friendly. And who doesn't love a tray of baked ziti or scoop of potato salad?

Make It a Community Party

No one minds being asked to contribute a dish to your casual party. It's not as though you've asked them to be the host! With that basic concept in mind, you can organize a:

BYOB or Other Beverage Cost Saving Tricks

For a casual party, it's very common for hosts to tell their guests that soft drinks will be provided, but guests can feel free to bring any liquor of their choosing. If you're not comfortable doing that, you can save on alcohol expenses by purchasing wine, champagne or beer by the case. Or consider making a seasonal punch as your economical, alcoholic beverage for the party.

Affordable Themes

By hosting a party with a theme, you can easily mask the underlying economy of your food. Themes make it fun, and you can add to the ambience with music (borrowed from a collector friend if you don't have the appropriate selections). Here are several affordable party themes:

Make Your Own Tacos
Pizza Party
Desserts Only
Italian Pasta Night
Ice Cream Sunday

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Easy Chicken Pasta

Easy Chicken Pasta

What's For Supper Ya'll?

White Beans, Pasta and Chicken
8 ounces dried cavatappi, fusilli, rotini, ditaloni, or other short pasta tubes
1 15- to 19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional - I usually skip it)
Olive oil (optional - but I recommend at least a little for moisture)
1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine 3/4 cup of the beans and the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Place bean puree in pan used for cooking the pasta; bring to boiling. Return pasta to pan.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook garlic in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining beans, shredded chicken, snipped parsley, pepper and salt. Heat through.
4. Add the tomato mixture to hot pasta; toss to cost. Top with parsley sprigs and additional olive oil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Posted by Stacy Nelson, Easy Dinner

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