Economics of Party Planning
by Shilora Jean
Planning a party is never easy. So many moving parts to manage, not the least of which is a budget. (Yikes!) Many times, the budget can get pushed and shoved around as we discover things we forgot or things we find that we think we can’t live without. Either way, the aftermath of a party is never good if you’re shouldering a hefty debt. Here’s a few tips for creating a great event on a budget.
Start with the budget. This one comes straight from the mouth of Captain Obvious himself, yet a lot of people planning an event start online (Pintrest and Etsy, we love you and hate you at the same time). While that’s a lot of fun, it’s also overwhelming. If you begin with the knowledge of what you can afford, you can eliminate the things that don’t fit the budget and focus on the things that do.
Determine what means the most to you. Is it food? Drinks? Games? Music? If you’re planning an event for elementary kids, games may be most important. If you’re hosting teens, music may be top of the list. If it’s your wedding, food or beverages or both may be important. Take the time to determine what really matters to you (and your guests) and decrease the budget in other areas.
Look for deals. If you’re planning with advance notice (like for a wedding), you’ll want to take advantage of special offers. Take advantage of off-season dates, bridal shows and offers made during wedding planning season, which is commonly January – March.
Understand that the lowest price is not always the best deal. A special event is not a good place to prove the theory “you get what you pay for.” This applies to products as well as services. There is a reason the good stuff costs more–and why hiring a professional is usually money well-spent.
Take on some things yourself. DIY is a great way to trim the budget if you follow one basic rule: Remember that your time (or anyone else’s) has value. If a project will take so much time that other important things will not get done, or if you will be drowning someone in work, it’s time to hire it out. Take into account how much you’re saving. Is 30 hours of time worth the $60 you save? DIY projects should be two things: a) small enough to manage and b) able to provide savings equal to the amount of time spent on them.
Ask advice from someone who’s done it before. There are plenty of places to get advice on planning; especially for a wedding. Be sure you know the difference between “advice” and “following the crowd”. Brides, for instance, have numerous message boards to turn to, even though the majority of people contributing to the board have NOT put on their event yet. Whether their ideas or plans work out or end up in disaster is often not known. Instead, speak with people who’ve recently thrown a party/event/wedding and ask what they would do differently if given a do-over.
Expect the Unexpected. Leave yourself a bit of money for things outside of your plan. There is no way to know what they might be; ergo the term “unexpected”, but as someone who’s been through the event trenches, I can tell you that there are always unexpected expenses. Leave a bit of money for them.
Last but not least, have fun! If planning is taking over your life, find ways to regain control. Take a break, go for a walk, watch a movie–do something you enjoy. Allow yourself to hit the reset button and you’ll find you have renewed energy for sticking to your budget-bound guns.
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