Jess Reiche

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Frugal Summer Fun Series: Throw a Potluck Party

I’m a pretty good party planner but I’ll be the first to say that throwing a party and being frugal USUALLY don’t go in the same sentence. The problem is, I’m a theme-loving, yummy foodie, hostess at heart, not a BBQ coordinator. But to be frugal and make an end of summer party possible – I must change hats to make it happen.

Bring in the potluck.

Here’s your quick guide to a frugal end of summer party:

  1. Make a list of everyone you think you should/want to invite. Then cross out the party poopers. Seriously. For this to work you need a group of people who are fun, generous and won’t bring down the spirit of what you’re doing. This isn’t a family birthday party, this is a fun event that you get to choose the guests.
  2. Pick a day and time. For the best chance of people coming, stay away from Saturdays!
  3. Stay away from Facebook when it comes to inviting people. You invite too many people and not enough people actually RSVP. Go old school and call your friends. Or be a bit more modern and send a text. But seriously, stay away from social media. Even evites get ignored usually.
  4. Decide what kind of potluck you want to have. BBQ, Picnic food, nice dinner, dessert and drinks only?
  5. Once you decide on your potluck, make a list of how many main dishes, sides, desserts, drinks, paper goods etc needed. Decide to either pick what you want to do from the start or fill in with what’s needed at the end. The latter is probably more frugal.
  6. When inviting your friends, ask them which category they would like to fill and ask them what they’re thinking of bringing. In order to not have 5 last minute runs for things not brought – plan in advance and make people commit! And make sure they’re not bringing a dish that has to be put together on-site or needs to stay warm (unless of course you want that kind of party).
  7. Get a realistic count of people – kids eat too!
  8. After you have a general idea of what people are bringing and how many are coming, start filling in the gaps. Disposable paper products can be found at Dollar Generals and Dollar Stores. Check the clearance at Target. Look for end of summer discounts. Ask friends and neighbors for serving utensils to borrow.
  9. Don’t forget seating. Collect picnic blankets and outdoor furniture. Folding chairs and tables. Anything you can find – make sure people will be comfortable!
  10. Think of easy entertainment. Put together a music playlist or utilize Pandora or another streaming service. Games for kids. Trivial Pursuit cards on tables make for great easy fun.
  11. Don’t forget about garbage. Make sure there are enough garbage cans around to encourage people to keep the area clean!
  12. Try to have fun and not go planning crazy. Have fun. Let loose. And let other’s help. It might not be perfect but it sure could be some good frugal fun!


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