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How to plan a huge party on a tiny budget

Summer is the season for picnics, pool parties and backyard barbeques. There is nothing quite like getting together and relaxing with your friends, and you want to impress them with a unique menu and thoughtful presentation. But entertaining comes at a price. Here are some tips for putting on a memorable event without breaking the bank.

For starters, use a budget. You are methodical and track the rest of your money, so do the same when planning a party. Decide how much you are willing to spend and stick to it. Create a list of must haves and a list of wants for your party before you shop. Make it detailed so you do not find yourself straying from the list, as it is easy to make impulsive buys when party planning.

Decide how formal or casual of an event you want to host. If you are leaning toward a more casual get-together, consider making it a potluck and asking your guests to bring different dishes. This is a great option for those who love throwing parties but are not comfortable in the kitchen. It will also allow you to spend more of your budget on decorations and other details. For those of you who love cooking, make the meal yourself instead of hiring a caterer. Find dishes that you can prepare and freeze a few days in advance. Your friends will be shocked at how great you look without knowing you did not spend all day slaving away in the kitchen.

Skip dinner and throw an after-dinner dessert party. The possibilities are endless for making delicious treats that do not require a lot of money or culinary experience. Make chocolate dipped strawberries and pretzels or gather around a fire pit for s’mores. This is a great party idea to keep you out of the kitchen and enjoy spending time with your guests.

Chances are you have some scrapbook or other crafty materials lying around. Put them to use and make your own invitations. Create and print a design with the party details on your computer and layer it on fun, patterned paper. Use stamps, ribbons and other embellishments to complete the look. Everyone has gone digital, so if your party is casual, send invitations by email or an “e-vite” website. This will also save money on supplies and postage.

Use what you have. Dine with real dishes, glasses and flatware. Sure, this will require doing more dishes, but this option is better than having to buy paper plates or hire equipment that will only be used once. Plus, it is environmentally friendly. You can forego dishes altogether and serve kabobs or other foods that require only hands or toothpicks to eat. Borrow from friends and neighbors and go through your own table linens, as there is sure to be a long-forgotten tablecloth that will work perfectly with the right accessories. Use mason jars to display utensils, adding a colorful ribbon to spruce them up. Pick flowers from your garden and use a several different vases. This will add variety and texture to your decorations.

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Hollie is the owner and coordinator of Real Moms Real Views. She loves spending time with her family which consists of her handsome hubby and three kiddos. Her loves: the smell after it rains, red nail polish, being pampered, chick flicks, and molten chocolate lava cake!
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This site receives free products and other forms of compensation for posting. See the Real Moms Real Views disclosure here.