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  • Writer's pictureCandace Wells

5 Steps to Planning a "Memorable" Event Without Breaking the Bank

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

Who wants to really spend their life savings planning an event for people to forget all about it after the fact?

Don't let it be you! I have 5 easy & effective tips to help you throw an event without taking the hammer to your piggy bank.

1.) Set a Theme

It may sound “corny”, but this really makes it easy on the brain. The more you have to think, the more money you spend! It’s a proven fact! Ok... Ok... I definitely made that last part up, but it makes sense.

Choosing a theme allows you to focus & gives you more structure when planning. Just remember, the theme can be as simple as you want (i.e. Ladies Night Pink Party) or as elaborate as you desire (i.e. 1940s Old Hollywood Birthday Bash). Setting a theme isn’t meant to put restrictions, but more so give you direction and triggers the imagination.

2.) Solidify Guest List

The best advice is to go with a 3-step guest list process. Begin with a piece of paper and pen and literally write down everyone that comes to mind that you want to invite. Once you have your initial list, go through the list and go through each person and decide who you “really” want and who you could kind of care less about. Okay, so I know that sounds mean, but let me explain!

If you get to a person’s name and can’t remember the last time you’ve actually spoken to them and don’t really even know where they are geographically then chances are, you won’t lose much sleep behind their absence. Even better chances are you’ll have a few extra dollars in your pocket as well.

Okay back to the steps… After you’ve taken a second look at your list and did a general filter then it’s time to go even deeper. Now look at your list and pick out who you want to invite, but know they won’t make it due to other circumstances. This allows you to account for this in your budget between your invite expense and catering expense. Believe me, this makes a difference.

3.) Set a Budget

This actually should be number 1, but depending on how elaborate the theme & guest list is, it can kind of sway your ideal budget a little up or down. The key to setting a budget isn’t the actual “setting-of-it”, but more so the “sticking-to-it”.

Depending on the event and to the extent that you are preparing for it, one good idea is to set up a separate account solely to hold the funds. This way it is separate from your everyday spending money and can be easily tracked.

The budget should account for every aspect of the event and always prepare a cushion for incidentals and the “expected unexpected”. This includes the venue, catering (food), music, photographer/videographer, transportation, hair, make-up, attire, decorations & supplies associated, cake, desserts, drinks (alcoholic/non-alcoholic), associated permits and or license fees required, invitations, any additional stationary needs (i.e. programs, place cards, menus, … etc.), favors, guest speakers/performers, and mandatory/voluntary gratuity.

4.) Don’t ‘Over-Do’ It

Just because you have your theme doesn’t mean you need to take it overboard. Simple hints are way more effective. This also can cut down on your cost. Suggested focal points are:

• The invitation: Although the invitation will most likely be thrown in the trash, the bottom of a purse, or stuck on a refrigerator with spaghetti sauce stains, it introduces the theme to the guests. This allows the “wow factor” to come into play when your guests arrive and see it all tied in.

Hollywood themed cake for my mom's 50th birthday

• The cake, cupcakes, and or cake pops: This is a simple way to display your theme and also knowing that your money won’t go to waste (unless it’s nasty and then people do the stale face, fork drop, plate push, and quick dump move…lol… let’s face it…We’ve all been to an event and the dessert looks amazing until you take your first bite)

• Centerpieces: The key to effective centerpieces is individualizing them. Make each one a little different than the next. This is the perfect time to explore your creativity and really put your stamp on your event.

• Food: depending on your theme you can serve food that go along with that particular theme. Some fun ones that I’ve used in the past were for my son’s 2nd Mickey Mouse Party. We served “Plut-Ta-To Chips”, “Clubhouse Sandwiches”, and “Le-Minnie-Nade”. My wedding was Mardi Gras themed so we had some fun Cajun foods items.

If you sprinkle your theme within those little avenues then you can tie it all in with using some associated colors.

For example, as stated before, my wedding was Mardi Gras so we really focused on the invitation, cake, centerpieces, and food and then made the linen purple, green, and gold. This still implied the Mardi Gras theme without “over-doing” it.

5.) Be Creative & D.I.Y

There is nothing wrong with looking at Pinterest and other blog sites to get inspiration, but let it be just that… Inspiration. Once you’ve “snagged” a few ideas it is important to make that idea your own. Imagination and creativity are two of the best free gifts you can receive. I’m sure many of you may say, “I’m not creative!” Blah… Blah… Blah! The truth is… We all have some type of creativity. This is evident by the way we put our individual outfits together and accessorize. It may seem different, but it’s all the same. Own your creativity and let your event be your canvas.

Happy planning my lovely readers and please stay tuned for more tips and inspiration for planning your next event that will have your guests saying… “You Did That!”

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