Mark and I threw our Annual Halloween Party on Saturday. WHEW was that a huge feat. Since this was our first big party since we started our lifestyle shift to more frugal living, this was the first time I’ve reflected on just how much money we threw into entertaining. In past years, we’ve spent tons of money on alcohol, sodas, finger foods, good cheeses, decorations, etc. What did we do differently this time?
We let our friends contribute.
- The invitations stated that the party was “pot luck”. We offered to provide drinks, ice, and a few snacks and invited everyone to bring things they enjoyed.
- Whenever someone asked “what can I bring?” we gave them suggestions instead of falling back on our old standby “Oh, nothing! Just bring yourself.”
- One sweet friend even offered to help us get the house “party ready”. We absolutely let her come on over and help.
We didn’t throw money at problems.
- Our house is pretty small. When 45 people RSVP’d, we knew we’d have some serious problems accommodating that many people. So, we got a couple of rolls of black plastic and completely closed in our front porch with it, turning it into a dark spooky party space. I pulled out our smoke machine from last year’s Halloween party, set out some candles and it was an instant hit!
- We have 3 big dogs that are a little too excited about having 45 house guests. In the past, we’d have kenneled them, or gone out to purchase a gate to keep them off the back porch. Instead, we set up the big dog crate and used it to block the stairs to the back deck. No doggies and no extra expense.
- We re-assigned jobs to common household items. Pillows and 3 feet tall stuffed animals became comfortable seating at random places throughout the house where people tend to congregate to chat. Kitchen chairs became comfy seating in the smoking area.
We made frugal things into the life of the party.
- Very few people are soda drinkers if there are alternatives, but for big parties, sodas are often the only choice. I made 2 gallons of sweet tea (this IS the South, afterall), a gallon of regular tea, and an entire 6 quart crock pot full of Pumpkin Spice Latte. The lattes, by the way, were THE talk of the party. I’m not quite certain if that’s the mark of a successful drink or a pitiful party!
- Mark spent a lot of time playing with the smoke machine… which provided endless amusement to our guests 😉
- The little spaces around the house that we made comfortable and inviting for people to settle in and talk seemed to be a big hit too.
- We raided Mark’s MP3 collection for all the spooky songs we could find and burned them to CD instead of going out and buying cheesy Halloween music. This was fabulous because we were able to play really great music (not cheesy Monster Mash) and set the exact tone we wanted.
We didn’t spend any money on costumes.
- We are big renaissance festival people. Since we already have (literally) hundreds of dollars invested in a few outfits for that, we find it much more fun to modify what we already have. Mark was Captain Hook!
- As a compliment to Mark’s costume, I grabbed a pair of my footie pajamas and a stuffed animal and became Michael Darling for the evening. (Thanks Southerner for the idea!!)
What are your frugal party tips? How do you entertain and still not break the bank?