Invitations: If you even know all of your friends’ mailing addresses, we commend you. Regardless, there’s no need to splurge on paper invitations and postage. Sites like Paperless Post and Evite let you design and send beautiful e-cards for a fraction of the price. They also help you keep track of RSVPs and send follow-up emails to your guests. After the party, you can send thank-you notes in the same way. Emily Post would be proud!
Food: Get all of your guests involved by hosting a good ol’ fashioned potluck. Send an email around before the event for people to sign up for appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and beverages so that you know you have a complete meal (although we probably wouldn’t mind if everyone just brought dessert…). Give guests a little guidance (and up the festivity) by providing a theme: “summer BBQ” or “a tour of Italy” would both be fun. Preheat the oven and lay out extra serving ware before guests arrive to streamline prep time.
Beverages: A few days before your party, hit up your local wine store for deals. Many offer a discount for buying 3 or more bottles; Whole Foods’ wine store has a deeper discount for 6 bottles to a case, and offers many bottles for just $7! Not sure how much to purchase? Go for boxed wine (no, we don’t mean Franzia — many wineries now make high quality wine in a boxed version!). It’s resealable and can last up to 3 weeks after opening so you don’t have to worry about extra wine going to waste. Hosting a chem-free fete? Buy a few bottles of fruit juice and cut it with seltzer water. The bubbles will make it more festive, and also stretch the juice farther. Add a mint garnish for a little added flair.
Décor: You don’t need fine linens and flatware to make a chic statement. Stick to your usual white tablecloth (or no tablecloth) and pick up some fun napkins instead for a fraction of the cost. We like fabric napkins, because they can be washed and used again and again. Ditch elaborate floral arrangements and centerpieces in favor of live, potted plants. They’ll look fresh and smell fragrant, and unlike cut flowers you’ll have them to enjoy long after the party ends. Available in bags of 20-100, tea lights are another cost efficient way to add a little glitter to your soiree: simply place them out on a few clear dishes around the room and voila, mood lighting!