I love to bake, decorate, and entertain. I get a wonderful sense of accomplishment when my friends leave our home after a long evening of delicious food and interesting conversation. The only problem I run across every time I am planning a gathering is MONEY!
I am blessed to be a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, but I must say the pay is less than ideal. Over the last several years, I have found it necessary to come up with creative ideas for entertaining on a small budget. The amazing part is that being frugal has become a big part of my fun!
One of the best ideas I have come up with is my dresser full of paper products. A dear friend gave me a beautiful dresser that I now use as a sideboard in my dining area. (You could find a very inexpensive one at a thrift store or yard sale and paint it to match your room.) I keep my dresser full of things I can use when I am planning to have people over.
After every holiday season, I make sure to stock up on paper plates and napkins that I can use for next year’s parties. I also keep an eye out all year round for sales on character plates my kids would like for their birthday parties and pretty plates and napkins that might match the decor of my home. If I invite friends over for a birthday party, or to play games or watch a movie, I have the things I need already available to me. And I don’t have to spend a lot of time doing dishes after they go home. And having these things on hand can help with those impromptu gatherings. No planning necessary!
I also make sure to keep napkins left over from my parties. Even if I only have a few left, I save them. Believe me, when my child’s friends are over for lunch, a plain sandwich looks better with a Spider-man napkin! I am amazed at how well this works in our home. I pull out left over napkins to use if a friend drops by for tea. Making that extra effort shows her that I value her. It is simple, but it is the little things that count, right?
The point is that advanced planning is always less expensive. If you have to run out and buy something the day of your event, you will end up spending a lot more than you need to. When you are planning ahead, you can make sure you get the cutest things available. It is much better than having to settle for something you don’t love. Being prepared allows you to focus on having a wonderful time with your guests.