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Planning Ahead for the Perfect Party

One last budget item remains: party favors. This is my absolute favorite thing to buy, mostly because no one ever gives out favors unless they are getting married. Favors are fun and silly, especially at a party like this one. Although I wish I had more money to spend on them, I can pick up some great stuff for $25.

I live in Southern California, home to a huge Hispanic population. About a week before the party, I'll hit a couple of stores downtown and pick up a bunch of toys: string dolls, Mexican yo-yos, firecrackers, maracas, silly string, and whatever else I can find that costs between $.25 and $1 each. I'll put everything in a big bowl near the booze, and people can take what they like.

Although favors are fun, they are not absolutely essential to your party. If you really can't afford to spend the extra money, don't. Ultimately, the food and drink are the most important, with ambience coming in a close second. Spend your money where it counts, and then opt for frills, such as favors, only if your budget allows.

Checking Over Your Final Budget, Shopping, and Tools Lists
At last, my budget sheet is complete! Here's what the final budget looks like:

Total Budget$350.00
Emergency Fund$35.00
Total Costs$350.00

I still have $35 left over in the emergency fund, so if any disasters happen, I'm covered. If I still have the extra money the day of the party, after I've bought everything on my list, I'll spring for that bottle of top-shelf tequila!

Do try to include at least one quality element in your party planning—a fine dessert, a premium liquor, or a rich appetizer. Even if the rest of your elements are bargain-basement, your guests will remember the extra touch and associate your party with quality.

To review, we made two other lists besides the budget. Here's our final "I'll Need" list:

    I'll Need
  • Candles
  • Checkered tablecloths
  • Tiki torches and oil
  • Mexican flag (Ben)
  • Sombreros (Tony)
  • Mexican blankets
  • Saints candles
  • Mexican CDs
  • Classic rock CDs
  • Salsa CDs (Andrea and Kylee)

Although it took a while to make these three lists, we've just planned the entire party. Considering everything that was involved, it took no time at all!

More on: Pop Culture

Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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