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Party Up, Pay Down

Even when times are tough, experts say with a realistic budget, creativity, advance planning, and a willingness to ask for help, the party can go on—with pizzazz.

In these tough economic times, quinceañeras, weddings, and other big parties may seem out of reach. But experts say with a realistic budget, creativity, advance planning, and a willingness to ask for help, the party can go on—with pizzazz.

  • Set a budget: decide how much you can afford to spend on the party before you start making plans.
  • Shorten your guest list. Make three lists: those nearest and dearest, those you really want to invite, and those you consider more remote or feel you should invite.
  • Choose a casual theme to cut down on dress and decoration costs.
  • Move parties to Sundays or weekdays to avoid high-priced Saturday site fees.
  • Rent a function space in your church, local school, public park, or museum, or hold it in your own or a relative’s home, or the home of a padrino.
  • Cut down on decorations.
  • Check out dollar stores for baskets, trays, party favors, decorations, and supplies for low-cost table arrangements. Or buy decorations from online discounters for party supplies.
  • Host smaller family dinners.
  • Create invitations on your computer, then print them on nice paper purchased at a craft store.
  • To save on postage, use e-vites or ask invitees to e-mail their RSVPs.
  • Cut out luxury transportation and bands.
  • Replace an expensive band with a more affordable DJ, an inexpensive band of local high school or college students, or a single guitar player or violinist.
  • Invite padrinos or in-laws to get more involved and share expenses.
  • Buy a fake cake for show, then serve a less-expensive sheet cake. (Warehouse store cakes serve 48 for less than $20.) Or substitute a costly cake with cupcakes, artfully arranged.
  • Ask skilled relatives to make dresses.
  • Instead of hiring a professional photographer, put disposable cameras on the tables and ask guests to document the event in their own creative way. Put your favorites in a photo album from a craft store.
  • Buy dresses from Craigslist or eBay; budget stores that sell designer brands (such as Filene’s Basement, Loehmann’s, Stein Mart, or T.J. Maxx), shops that are going out of business; or online stores such as joyfuleventsstore.com, quinceaneramall.com, or laquinceanera.com.

These links are provided for informational purposes only. AARP does not endorse, and has no control over, or responsibility for, the linked sites or the content, advertisements, materials, products, or services available on or throughout these sites.

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