The bad news is, your loved one’s milestone birthday is quickly approaching and you’ve been procrastinating on the party planning end. Let’s say this is due to the fact that you live paycheck to paycheck and can barely even cover your bills, let alone rent a posh banquet hall and book lively entertainment. I think we’ve all had this sort of dilemma at some point. You don’t want someone you care deeply about to base the level of your devotion on their cheesy birthday bash that you sloppily threw together. Frankly, if you had the funds, you would have already surprised the birthday celebrant with an all-expense paid Caribbean cruise with ten guests of his or her choice and called it a day. The good news is, the birthday celebration doesn’t have to be lame just because it’s not breaking the bank!
The key is to simply make it fun! Figure out where you’re going to hold the party. So what if you can’t afford a glitzy venue to host your dad’s 60th birthday festivities? As usual, it’s the thought that counts. The tiny loving details in your intimate gathering will mean much more than the upscale restaurant with fancy presentation yet little personality. Whether you choose to throw the party at home or at a county park, choosing a rent-free venue is a no-brainer cutback. The next step is to choose a simple theme, perhaps geared towards the birthday person’s interests, to plan your purchases around. The rest will all fall into place.
Entertainment doesn’t have to be an issue. If it’s an Over the Hill party for your sister, and you want to create a dark yet fun-loving scene, you might want to play an old Halloween party CD, even if her birthday is in April. If you decide to have a luau or beach theme, play some Beach Boys, Jack Johnson, and other island music. If you’re having a Wild West themed barbecue, provide a mix of country music favorites. If the guest of honor enjoys singing, borrow a karaoke machine from a friend and make it a competition with tacky prizes. Even call some dive bars or ask around for local entertainment suggestions. Networking is never a bad idea. You might be able to find an affordable D.J. who’s willing to run the whole show.
What about refreshments? Believe it or not, it’s perfectly acceptable to write off costly entrees. Scheduling your party after peak lunch or dinner hours can save you tons of money. How many times have you had a 7 p.m. get-together at your house and had main dish leftovers, crowding your fridge for over two weeks before you tossed them out? Everyone had already eaten before they arrived, because they were accustomed to eating at 5 or 6 p.m. If your event is after dinner, and as long as there’s an adequate amount of cold drinks and finger foods available, you really can’t go wrong.
In addition to having enough hors d’oeuvres, make sure you’re sticking with the theme when planning the menu. For example, a carnival theme can be very inexpensive with filling treats like popcorn, caramel corn, cotton candy, hot dogs, and corn dogs. As a matter of fact, if done properly, even the birthday cake alone reflecting your theme is enough. The idea is not to be chintzy on the buffet, but rather to casually, albeit gracefully, weave the theme into the menu to keep the focus on that.
Again, the key is to make it a fun experience, not only for the guest of honor, but also for the party planner. If designed creatively, you can throw a tasteful and successful event with little effort or money, and have a ball doing it. Focus on sticking with the theme while staying under budget, and you’ll be itching to plan the next birthday bash in a week or two!
If you need further suggestions or advice, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.