Gorgeous parties on a budget

By admin
05 July 2013

Throwing a party on a budget doesn’t have to entail disposable tablecloths and peanuts. Read on for some thrifty tips...

Throwing a party on a budget doesn’t have to mean disposable tablecloths and peanuts. Here are some thrifty tips to keep your costs low but your reputation as the party hostess-with-the-mostest intact! Cheap cupcake wrappers may not be ideal for baking cupcakes but are perfect to use as a sweets “cup”. Fill with mini marshmallows or sweets and place in a muffin tin to serve. Cupcake wrappers are available at Mr Price and Wespack from just R19 a pack. Use Sweetie or Cutie Pies (see above) instead of cupcakes and decorate with your usual cupcake décor. Cupcake toppers are available at most baking and craft shops (inexpensive bunting flags are available at Mr Price), but if you’re a scrapbooker, make your own toppers and glue them to toothpicks. Paper straws are all the rage. Flower Spot in Johannesburg now sells them at only R20 a pack. Use them as skewers for marshmallows or pop them into recycled bottles as a display.

Stamp your own paper serviettes. Stamps are available at many places and can be used to glam up white serviettes, party bags, napkins, envelopes and place settings. The bright pink ink is from Typo.

Small details make up a beautiful table. These little chalkboard pegs are available from Flowerspot in Woodmead (R20 for six) and add a party feel to your plain crockery. They  are gender neutral and can be reused every year. Line up your glasses or bowls and use different shapes (hearts, clouds, flowers and more) on them, then fill with crisps, sweets and biscuits. Yes, gourmet biscuits are pricy so pick up only a jar or two of beautifully iced tea biscuits from Melissa’s for the adults. If you’re looking for the cheapest, most gorgeous treat, start learning to make meringues and pavlovas. Only make the full recipe if you have a good mixer, otherwise halve the recipe, as a hand-held beater will only handle half the volume. Mini chewy Pavlovas (12-16 or a large individual one) 6 extra-large egg whites 400 g caster sugar Vanilla to flavour (use your preferred paste, essence or extract)

  1. Heat the oven to 150 °C.
  2. Beat egg whites till stiff peaks form and gradually add sugar.
  3. Place the blobs of meringue on a non-stick mat.
  4. For 18, bake for 50-60 minutes.
  5. For 12-16 (mini individual pavlovas) bake for an hour.
  6. For one whole pavlova bake for 1 hour 40 minutes.

Other budget party tips:

  • Use wax paper to line themed plates for snacks so you can reuse them.
  • Crisps can be served in unlikely containers such as empty tins, storage boxes and old gift boxes; just line them with wax paper.
  • Pick flowers. I can’t begin to tell you how many parties I have thrown with flowers from the neighbourhood’s gardens popped into recycled bottles.
  • For your tablecloth, purchase material of your choice from a shop such as Chamdor. Use a pinking scissors to cut the borders so the edges don’t fray, and reuse each year. I used my white and pink gingham “cloth” for six years and it cost me R200 for a four-metre piece of material.
  • To make a cheap, reusable cake stand, keep the foil base trays from old cakes. Wrap the square boards in wrapping paper and place on a vase, which can be filled with bright sweets, shells, or even a flower.
  • Don’t feel bad about not providing party packs; I never do as I think it’s an unnecessary waste of money and time. Instead I provide brown paper packets (for those who ask) and allow the kids to take a few leftover sweets from the table.
  • Save money  on the cake. Three-dimensional, themed cakes are expensive and old-fashioned. A simple vanilla sponge (baked with a packet mix or bought at a home-industry shop if necessary) can be beautifully decorated with home-made bunting. Themed bunting (for example pirates or ballerinas) is available from In Good Company (Johannesburg, Cape Town or online) from R80.
  • Learn to make your own invites at picmonkey.com. It’s FREE. You can mail or print them. 

- Debbie Hannibal  of cookstudio.co.za

Debbie Hannibal and her team offer cooking and entertainment courses that includes party planning and table styling.

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