Know Your Party Style

Midrange Merrymaking
Parties within a midrange budget cost from $11 to $20 per person. Again, that cost should cover everything in your total budget, including venue, invitations, food, drink, tools, décor, entertainment, activities, and favors.

Because you are looking at anywhere from $55 to $1000 for a party for 50 guests, your possibilities for midrange merrymaking are almost limitless. Explore a number of different party combinations:

  • Hosted camping trip – Rent a campsite at a cushy campground sporting bathrooms, showers, and campsite grills, and invite 10 of your friends. All they'll bring is their own gear, and you'll supply an elegant menu of grilled salmon and corn on the cob, fruit, grilled vegetables, and wine. Your group will have a wonderful, stress-free experience – you will provide the simple menus, and your guests won't have to worry about anything but where they'll sleep. Your projected cost: $150 for 10 people.
  • Chi-chi cocktail party – Select a few top-shelf liquors and decant the cheap stuff into vintage glass bottles. Make a dozen or so scrumdiddlyumptious appetizers and finger foods, throw on a few "loungey" CDs, dim the lighting, and you're ready to go. Because you have a larger budget, you can also spring for a few extras, such as personalized cocktail napkins and matchbooks – possibly even live entertainment! Your projected cost: $600 for 50 people.
  • Destination Las Vegas! – Although guests usually pay for their own accommodations and travel when attending a destination party, it doesn't mean you can't go all out. Consider everything else there is to do in Vegas, such as attending shows, taking day trips, renting a fancy car or two for carpooling in style, or visiting a spa. Although you certainly don't have to pay for everything, you'll be able to pick up the extras, such as tips, several rounds of drinks, transportation, or any other special treats. If you plan a few activities at venues with varying price ranges, you can show your guests a really good time without spending that much money. Your projected cost: $400 for 20 people.
You also can use a slightly larger budget to upgrade your dinner party, arrange a city-wide scavenger hunt, or celebrate the holidays with style. Just keep track of your expenses and make sure you don't go overboard.

Fancy Schmancy
At least once in your lifetime, you will be required to shell out big bucks for a gala event. It might be a graduation party, wedding reception, or post-opera soiree, but the theme will be the same: You will spend more than $20 per person to make the shindig happen.

Fancy schmancy parties don't have to be limited to milestone events; if you have the budget and the inclination, you can celebrate with style as often as you like. Think about one of these substantial events:

  • Formal dinner – Whether you're celebrating your son's graduation from Harvard or the onset of spring, a formal dinner party is an excellent way to create a stunning memory for all your guests. Hire caterers, servers, designers, and a bartender – you've got the money, now use it! Your projected cost: $500 for 25 people.
  • Vacation "party" – Arrange for a dozen of your best friends to spend the weekend at a large rental home. Many such properties are available near lush vacation spots, such as in the mountains, at the beach, on a lake, or in the desert (search the Internet, especially off-season), for far less than you might expect. Because you are providing free accommodations, the atmosphere will be convivial the whole weekend, even if you simply grill some dogs. Your projected cost: $750 for 12 people.
  • Golden anniversary party – Your parents (or grandparents) will only celebrate 50 years of marriage once, so why not go all out? Rent a hotel ballroom, invite everyone they know, and cater the whole thing. Yes, it will break the bank, but it will also shine as the best night in your guests of honor's lives (except the day they got married!). Your projected cost: $2,500 for 100 people.
If you can afford it, hire an event planner for a large, formal party. Yes, after reading this book, you might not think you need one, but if you are busy in your non-party life, you will love having a paid assistant to keep track of all the details.

Because most people reading this book will hover somewhere between no-frills and fancy, the parties I discuss will be aimed at the midrange merrymaking set. However, throughout the book, I'll also give you penny-pinching tips, which will enable you to host almost any kind of party on even a very limited budget. I'll also add tips for upgrading midrange parties with little extras – your event will cost more, but your guests will have a great time!

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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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