Pretty Simple Keys to Have A Baller Party on A Budget

Entertaining 101, Treats
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First Things First

So Keanna likes to say that we are “googlers not gurus.” With this post at least that is not as true. In my day job, I’m constantly planning and managing events. I also use any excuse to have a get together with my friends and loved ones. So, instead of doing a ho-hum post about the super fun New Year’s Eve Party that I hosted with Keanna, I am sharing my “Pretty Simple Keys” on how to have a Baller Party on a Budget.

Here on the site, we are trying to have basically a theme for every two-week posting cycle. This theme is “Refocus.” As I mentioned in our reflection post, I was not the best friend last year. With so much going on in my head, I slowly drifted away from the people I love the most. Literally, the first post idea I had for “Refocus” was not about refocusing on myself or my goals, it was about refocusing on important connections. Learn from my mistake. Take a second to send a random email checking in with someone you care about, call your mom, send someone a card instead of a Facebook wall post for her birthday. It is truly the pretty simple things in life that make it worthwhile.

No More Excuses

Do you wish that you hosted small parties more? A lot of people worry that they cost too much, take too much time to plan and manage, and/or you don’t actually have fun at your party. Trust me. I used to think these things too… especially the last one. Wanting everything to be perfect, I would be stressed out during the entire event. But no more. Try these “Pretty Simple Keys” and you will be an awesome host(ess) in no time.

Below, you will see a handy-dandy infographic that I made (and for those who know me, know that I actually made this without Keanna’s help and am insanely proud of myself). It is easy to print or Pin to Pinterest. I hope it is useful for you.

How We Had A Baller Party on a Budget

Close up picture of our food and beverage spread at our New Years Eve Party.
All of this and more for under $150. We know how to have a baller party on a budget.

We were able to put together a fun and understatedly elegant event for our friends for around $150. While that might seem like a lot, your friends will probably bring a little token of appreciation. Often, the value of the gifts end up matching what I spend on the gift. Also, I save the good bottles of booze until the next event and make custom cocktails using what I have on hand. Without further ado, here are my “Pretty Simple Keys” on how to have a baller party on a budget.

Have a Theme

You know that you shouldnt shop for groceries while you are hungry. The same applies to buying party supplies. The theme can be as simple as ours for NYE “Cocktails and Canapés.” Mainly, I suggest you pick a color scheme and a theme for your food and drinks. You should make sure that tone and “feel” of your invitation gives people an idea of the level of formality for the event.

Spread the Love

I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Apparently, a lot of other people do too as they have one station in the kitchen for food and beverage and that’s all. While that works for up to 10 people, I like to have platters on tables throughout the space to ease up the congestion and encourage your revelers to move around and mingle.

Less is More

This one was hard for me to learn. I would practice intricate recipes over and over until they were perfect. Guess what, if you are lucky, you might get a “WHOA” then your guests goes back to living their lives. You ain’t no Iron Chef. Nor am I. Why stress yourself out when pretty simple food gets the job done?

Ask for the RIGHT Help

People love to offer to help you with a party. I have learned the hard way that you should only accept if they are dependable, are actually going to be useful, and they have a skill set that offsets a weakness of yours. For example, Keanna has a keen eye for design, so we worked like a well-oiled machine. I would plate the dish and then Keanna would arrange the item on the table with grace and ease.

What if no one offers to help? Well, you need new friends. But don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.

Lead with Canapés

Easy and inexpensive cheese board that goes a long way.

Let’s be real, I just like the word “canapé.” The idea here is that plating your food takes much longer than it looks like. I like to have at least half of the appetizers be something that can be made in bulk like hummus or things that are easy to assemble like store-bought bruschetta on crostini.

I also love a good cheese board. Here is a little secret. Baked Brie is easy as hell to make and for some reason is the one thing that gets compliments at every event. If you have never made it, then give it a try and you’ll be hooked.

Follow this rule and you will not be that stressed out host who is scrambling for the last hour of prep time or having guests arrive while you are still putting the dishes together.

Like Sandra Lee, I love semi-homemade things when cooking for a crowd. But remember that the quality of the items matter. No one wants to eat discolored bruschetta. The goal is to have a baller party on a budget, but you want it to look elegant, not cheap.

Miniaturize Favorite Foods

Notice the little baby cornbread muffins?

For this event, I wanted to focus on foods that mean good luck somewhere in the world. Did you know that cornbread is good luck? Me either. Put, we can’t have people getting crumbs all over themselves from a giant corn muffin. Instead, I used this handy dandy mini muffin pan and made bite-sized cornbread muffins. I use this technique a lot. Pinterest has a lot of things to inspire you in this department. But get creative. If you are hosting a birthday party for your bestie, how can you shrink down her favorite foods?

Just practice your method a couple times to get it just right. And assembly tends to be easy but tedious. Definitely, something that your awesome friend/helper can do while you prepare other dishes.

Count your seats

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than going to a party for hours and having to stand the entire time. You know your friends and the vibe that you are going for. Will people be standing and mingling or sitting and chatting? At the very very very least, you should have one seat for every two people.

Add some height

I like to think that the various heights adds a little something extra

This isn’t a hard and fast rule and, in fact, some friends who host parties actively disagree. I think having a nicely arranged main food area with varying heights adds drama to the look. Make sure that when you are laying everything out that you aren’t forcing people to reach over one platter to get to another. Not sure why, but it is a major pet peeve of mine.

Add a Show-Stopper

Define for yourself what the show-stopper is. Maybe you are hosting a birthday party and get a stunning custom cake; don’t leave it out all night. Wait until it is time to sing Happy Birthday, turn off the lights and let everyone be amazed by the look of the beautiful cake softly lit by the candles. A trick I use a lot is to cover my bottles in glitter. You are just going for that one special thing to add a little drama.

Presentation is everything. Make sure that your guests are impressed while maintaining your goal of a baller party on a budget.

Beg, Borrow, and Steal

Well, don’t steal, but you know what I mean.

We mentioned chairs before, know someone who has baller and comfortable stools, ask to borrow them for the night. I’ll be writing more event planning posts in the future so I won’t go hella into detail, but you should know what cookware, serving platters and bowls, utensils, etc will be needed for every dish. So, why buy a stock pot you will only use once and takes up so much space when you can borrow one from a friend?

Have 1-3 Drinks

First of many Champagne cocktails of the night

You are not a bar and your friends shouldn’t expect you to have a full bar for your party. I like to have a couple drinks that match the theme and feel of the event (remember to have non-alcoholic versions) and leave it at that. If your friends are like mine, then they will probably come with a bottle of something, but you can’t depend on it. Buy what you need and only what you need.

Have Fun!!

For far too long, I was the only one at my party not having fun. I was too stressed about getting people to mingle, or making sure there is enough food on the platter, or enough toilet paper in the bathroom, or or or. Look, these people are at your party because they are special to you. They wanna have a good time so you can’t be sending around neurotic vibes. The event won’t be perfect and that is fine because perfect is boring.

Whoo. I don’t know why I continue to play myself and think that my posts are going to be short. Clearly, this is something that I am passionate about. And our goal for the site is to deconstruct what seems like massive projects in pretty simple steps.

Do you have a favorite tip to share on how to have a baller party on a budget? I will be expanding on some of these topics in the future and would love to include your insights. Also, please tag your pictures of party planning hacks with #PrettySimpleTreats on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, even Google+ and we will feature you on our social media feeds.

Keepin’ it Pretty & Simple,

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By Monti Lawson

Hello, I am Monti and half of the team for Currently living in New York City, but raised pretty much in Virginia Beach, VA. By day, I am a freelance consultant for nonprofits. At night, you can find me trying to infuse vodka, playing with cocktails, gardening, or trying as many new cuisines as I can find. Longing to spend a year traveling through Asia.


  1. Reply

    Love the tips shared ! I enjoy hosting parties at home and hit in every aspect of throwing a memorable fete!

    1. Reply

      That’s awesome! It isn’t as hard as people believe!

  2. Reply

    I love having get togethers at my house. I come from a family of hosts so I guess I got it honest. These are done great tips.

  3. Reply

    I like the tips. Recently moved to a new place and have been thinking about doing a tea party but was intimidated by the idea of planning something. Now I think I might do a Gal-entine’s day event.
    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Reply

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Marsha. I love the gal-entine’s idea. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

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