How to Plan a Cheap Surprise Party

party image by Tammy Mobley from

Surprise parties are a great idea for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, bridal showers and other special occasions. And while throwing a party can seem expensive, there are ways to cut down on the costs. For example, leave yourself enough time to shop at sales and to come up with a menu you can purchase inexpensively.

Set the budget for your party. When you are trying to throw a surprise party on the cheap, the budget is the most important part. It will help determine your theme, menu, favours and other items you choose for the party. Make sure you leave enough room in your budget for unexpected expenses that might arise.

Choose a theme for your party. Some themes tend to be cheaper than others. For example, an upscale cocktail party might not be within your budget because it requires nice glassware, sophisticated food and posh decor. A Hawaiian luau, on the other hand, will likely be a less expensive event to throw.

Come up with a guest list for the party. Because you want the party to be a surprise to the guest of honour, you won't be able to consult her for the guest list. If you are close enough to her, you might be able to come up with it on your on. If not, talk to a couple of friends or family members. Remember that the larger your guest list is, the more expensive the party will be.

Shop for decorations and supplies. Look online or at a party store for inexpensive decorations. Consider making your own centrepieces rather than ordering them from a florist. Use wildflowers or flowers from your yard, or simply use a collection of inexpensive candles on the tables. Rent table cloths, chairs, napkins and other items from a party rental business rather than purchasing them.

Plan the menu for the party. Keep in mind that much of the party's budget should be devoted to food and drink. The menu will be dictated in large part to the party's theme. An easy way to cut costs on food is to serve several appetizers or snacks rather than an entire meal. To make sure people don't come to the party expecting a meal, don't plan it for meal time. For example, throw the party in the midmorning, the late afternoon or late night. That way, people will have already had a meal. Another simple way to save money on food is to make it yourself rather than hiring a caterer or buying food from a restaurant.

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