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Throwing a Housewarming Party on a Budget

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You have already gotten through the biggest and most stressful hurdle - your actual move from one place to another, so now you owe it to yourself to kick back and relax a little, and have some fun while you're at it! The only problem: that move left your wallet close to empty, so planning a housewarming party could potentially be another added financial stress that you don't need.

Not to worry! The following guide is full of tips and inspiration on how have your housewarming go off without a hitch, and without a strain on your budget.

Guest list and invitations

Most of the time, housewarming parties are pretty casual, and guests often show up in waves throughout the allotted party time. This "open house" type of party would be ideal if your new home cannot accommodate everyone you would like to invite all at once, and it may give you more opportunity to interact with your guests rather than simply playing host to everyone. In addition, if your seating situation is scarce in your home, you have the opportunity to skip renting any additional seating.

For a cost-friendly party, it goes without saying that less is more. While it may be tempting to invite the whole block in addition to all of your friends and family, try your best to set a reasonable limit on your head count so you don't have to worry about breaking the bank on food and entertainment.

As far as invitations go, the most cost-effective option is to choose an e-vite invitation that can be sent via e-mail and posted on social networking sites. You won't need paper, you won't need stamps, and the invitations are customizable to your party. The best part? These invitations are absolutely free.

Maybe too many people on your guest list don't have e-mail accounts or aren't on any social networking sites. That's OK, because there are plenty of creative and crafty options that will allow you to send out personalized invitations that won't cost you a lot. If you're crafty, you can purchase some reasonably priced textured or printed paper at your local craft store, or even scrapbooking paper, then cut the pieces of paper into smaller invitations. If you have any design software on your computer, you can type up and design what you'd like on your invitations and print four to six per page, which will save you money on paper.

For a more personal touch, hand write your invitations - this way, you can further your personalization for each one by specifying items you are in most need of. Don't forget, you've also just recently unpacked your home using a lot of different packing materials including cardboard boxes, so put those materials to reuse by thinking up a way to decorate the cardboard (for example, wrap the cardboard in solid wrapping paper you can purchase at a local dollar store, and glue your information onto the wrapping paper). The possibilities are endless!

Decorations

While this may seem like a necessity when throwing a party, the rules are slightly different when it comes to a housewarming party. Your guests are coming to see your new house, so again, less is more in this situation as well. If you have done any renovations to your home, you could always have "before" pictures posted in various locations of the house, so your guests can see the progress your house has made.

You don't want to distract your guests with too many bright colored typical decorations like streamers, welcome signs and balloons. Two or three balloons on the mailbox to let your guests know which house is yours should suffice. If you want to go with a theme for your party, keep it simple and purchase any cups, napkins and paper plates in solid colors. This way, any decorations you choose will match, and you can reuse any left over paper products with your next party.

Throwing a housewarming party around the time of a holiday? Use your holiday decorations and save! There's nothing wrong with breaking out Santa and his reindeer a few weeks early, or bats and pumpkins during Halloween.

The menu and beverages

This will probably be the most costly part of your party planning. The first option you have is to go potluck and tell your guests to bring a shareable amount of their favorite foods and desserts. If you do this, be sure to stock up on chafing pans and chafing fuel to keep everything hot.

However, since your guests will most likely be generously bestowing you with a housewarming gift, you'll want to supply them with as much as you can.

As far as beverages go, you don't have to go overboard with creating a plethora of tasty cocktails - maybe one or two signature drinks for the evening (if you choose to serve alcohol), and a few different sodas or juices. If you want to do a few different alcoholic beverages, choose recipes that call for the same type of alcohol, since you will typically pay less per ounce for a larger bottle. Another option is to supply beer, wine and a few types of juices and let your guests bring a liquor of their choice. Many times, if you buy wine by the case, you will get a discount at many liquor stores - keep that in mind as you decide on your beverages.

When it comes to the food, many people may suggest going to a wholesale food store and purchasing large boxes of frozen appetizers. While this may work for some things, it is actually more cost effective to buy fresh ingredients and make modified versions of your favorite appetizers (depending on the ingredients, of course). And who doesn't love fresh, homemade food?

Stick to lots of small finger foods you can replenish throughout the party, with maybe one or two smaller entrées, and a few simple desserts. You can also throw your party prior to dinner time, so your guests won't necessarily expect a full meal. Here are a few ideas to stretch your budget when it comes to light appetizers:

Chips and Salsa Alternative

Skip jarred salsa for your chips and buy fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, etc. to go with it. Depending on where you live, you may be lucky enough to find roadside vendors selling fresh homegrown vegetables that cost much less than the supermarket. If you make your salsa, you can adjust the level of spice yourself, and it yields much more than the supermarket jarred variety.

You can find relatively low cost bags of chips to put out for your guests, but you can also spice it up a little by buying a large package of soft tortillas, breaking the tortillas up into smaller pieces and baking them with whatever added spices you choose - creating your own homemade chips to add to the bagged ones.

TIP: These tortillas can serve two purposes, as you can brush them with butter and cinnamon for a sweeter chip, or fill them with apple pie filling, roll them up and bake them to create a dessert enchilada!

Do it Yourself Pigs in a Blanket and Cocktail Franks

The best way to cut costs on food is to buy items you can use in more than one finger food or snack. Many grocery stores carry large amounts of cocktail franks in one bag that you can use for pigs in a blanket, and simmered in a Crockpot with grape jelly and ketchup. You can choose to make your own dough for the blankets, or buy a store brand tube. You can stretch the use of the store bought dough by cutting the precut triangles even smaller, since you won't need that much dough to cover each mini hotdog.

TIP: You can use the same ketchup and grape jelly mixture with some added spices and use it as a barbeque sauce to go on chicken wings, too!

Pasta and Rice Salads

These salads are easy to make, and are inexpensive to make in large quantities. Take some of the left over diced vegetables you used for your salsa, throw them into a pound of elbow macaroni along with mayonnaise or salad dressing, and some spices. You can keep it healthier by using some olive oil and vinegar as well, and a few different varieties of rice.

Another economical and creative option would be to make Asian coleslaw. For this, you'll need just a few household ingredients, cabbage, carrots and ramen noodles (which generally cost in the neighborhood of 10 cents per pack). You simply mix oil, vinegar, the ramen noodle spice packet to create the dressing, then mix the crushed up (dry) ramen noodles with shredded cabbage and carrots. Serve the dressing on the side of drizzled over the entire salad!

Photo by: Photostock (Freedigitalphotos.net)

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on May 20, 2013

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