Ideas for Entertaining On a Budget

Don’t worry about others’ judgments, about the dishes others would serve.
Don’t worry about the decorations other people used at their parties.
If you can, silence all of that! Your budget (and your peace of mind) will thank you!
Be brave.

The Gift of Hosting

Entertaining others in your home or at a park is about giving them a gift. It is giving them the gift of time shared together, listening to and sharing with them. It is not about impressing them. It is not about showing them what a great hostess you are. It is not about proving that you can throw a more expensive party than your neighbor did last month. It has nothing whatsoever to do with being more elaborate or outlandish. It is about the quality of time spent together.
Have you felt the exhaustion at the end of hosting a party? Have you reflected if the exhaustion stemmed from serving the guests to meet their needs or was it exhaustion that came from having been performing, trying to prove something?
When we are present to our guests, not worrying about others’ impressions of us, and truly present to love them and enjoy them and this time together, yes, it can be still be exhausting – you’ve cleaned, you’ve prepped food, you’ve run errands, but it’s a happy exhaustion, one that comes from having given of yourself, but not from having been out to “prove yourself.”

Cleaning Costs

In response to “how much should I clean before I host something in my home”, I read once in The Reluctant Entertainer (this is an affiliate link) when we were first married, clean as much as makes the guest feel comfortable, but not so much cleaning that it’s done out of service to your own pride.

I have a long way to go on this. But I am finally entertaining without feeling the need to stress over the cleaning quite like I used to.
No need to hire a housecleaner to host an ordinary, enjoyable party.  Cleaning in my understanding had (and I still struggle with this) a misplaced emphasis that I thought was going to show my guests how much I respected them. It feels wonderfully freeing to strive to move away from that understanding, and, as my friend so well says, “practice scruffy hospitality”. Also, if at the last minute, the guests have to cancel, you haven’t spent a lot of money nor an inordinate amount of time polishing for friends.  (Again, bravery helps my budget here, striving to be seen for who I am and how I live and not striving to impress.)


Remember to make food that is inviting. It isn’t being served to show how in the know you are of the latest food trends. The newest addition to the olive bar at your local upscale grocery store doesn’t need to be served.
I definitely recommend reverse meal planning even when entertaining. Find out what’s being clearanced (again, this is NOT expired food!), and plan a meal around that. Today I picked up five pounds of ground beef being clearanced for 99 cents/pound. If I were throwing a party this weekend, tacos or a chili buffet might be a great affordable option.
Also, if you think the occasion would make it appropriate, don’t hesitate to use the potluck method – ask each guest if they could bring a dish to share. can help with the organizing of it.


We can so easily believe that our child will only feel loved if the decorations at his or her birthday party are Pinterest worthy.
Think again, most children care about time spent with friends and loved ones, eating something tasty and playing their favorite games. Most of the time, decorations are very secondary in their opinion. So, ask yourself, when the next four hours of this party are over, and you’re throwing away the bulk of those Kool-Aid-spilled-on decorations, will you be glad you spent the money on that or will you wish you’d saved it for something much more long lasting for you or your child?

Buying Stuff for a Party

How often over the years, have I gone out the night before a party and bought new hand towels for the bathrooms, new soaps for the sinks (where before the half used bottles would have been entirely sufficient), candles to be lit in the bathrooms, etc. etc. etc. But is that necessary? No, not necessarily. Your home can be inviting without spending a lot of extra money to upgrade it before each party you host.

Parties are not exhibits to impress our friends. They are there to welcome one another in conversation and connection, not grade you on your belongings or your decorating.

No More Peer Pressure

If we buy less stuff, it’s good for the environment and our bank accounts.
You can still spend time with friends, and not blow the budget! Because, being debt free and living with enthusiasm and warmth towards others, do not have to be mutually exclusive!

“Normal is broke. Don’t be normal. Be weird.” – Dave Ramsey

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