Hostess with the Most(ess)

I love throwing parties. I would say it’s in my blood but both my mother and sister dread organizing get-togethers. In 2013 I threw the biggest party ever, our wedding (it was awesome!), and each August I get to plan my husband’s huge, birthday, pool party, extravaganza. Now that I’m married and it’s January, I’ll take any excuse to play hostess.

Most recently I volunteered to take the first half of a progressive party on New Years Eve, co-hosting with some friends of ours nearby. I think progressive parties are great because it allows you to maximize the time you have with your guests at home and then they’re off to the next stop before they get bored or restless. My husband and I are currently trying to buy a house so I knew for this occasion I had a tight budget and our little (rented) duplex to work with. That didn’t stop me and I hope circumstances like this won’t stop you either.

I have devised a pretty simple equation for throwing a party that can be customized for any budget, event, location, theme, etc.

Equal parts food, alcohol, decorations/supplies (1 x 1 x 1).

Example, my New Years Eve party:

Food– $25 ($10 cheese, $6 olives, $5 crackers, $4 nuts)

Alcohol– $25 ($13 case of beer, $7 bottle of champagne, $5 mixers)

Decorations– $10 serving platters, $10 card-stock and craft supplies, $5 theme specific napkins and store bought decor)

The caveat to this system is that the party was BYOB. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but with the exception of hosting a wedding, shower or retirement party, I think just about all parties should be BYOB. It just makes sense that people bring what they want to drink since a persons taste and quality preferences can vary drastically from yours or other guests. In any case, if you do BYOB, always have a little something for those that show up empty handed and always have plenty of ice and mixers.

I’m sure many of you are skeptical to the formula but consider these scenarios:

Chili party for 6 friends: $15 for chili supplies and crusty bread, $15 for two bottles of wine, $15 for recycled paper bowls, napkins and an outdoorsy smelling candle. Total: $45

St. Patrick’s day for 15: $50 for a slim keg of light beer and green food coloring, $50 for oven ready freezer apps and homemade shepherds pie, $50 on plates, napkins, toilet paper, and every green decoration from the Dollar Tree. Total: $150

My Wedding for 130: $2,000 for the caterer, $2,000 for our own alcohol, insured bartender and barware, $2,000 for the venue, photographer and decorations. Total: $6,000

I’m telling you friends, it works! Next time you are itching for a fiesta just make a plan and a budget and you’ll be the host(ess) with the most(ess) in no time.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Clean your house but don’t mop the floors (they’re about to get dirty)
  • Put away personal items like medication, bath towels, bills, receipts, slippers, dog beds
  • Check out your local thrift store for gently used party supplies like serving platters and cake stands
  • Hit the party supply store first for any must have splurges and then hit the dollar store to fill in any generic staples (plasticware, napkins, etc)
  • Adapt your lighting, switch to low watt bulbs and light candles (think mood lighting)
  • Make your recycle/trash situation easily known but still discreet to avoid litter around your house or yard
  • Don’t forget to eat, drink and have fun!


Check out some highlights from my NYE 2013 bash below. Cheers!



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