Celebrating on a budget


Joanne Ferguson

Life is filled with so many precious moments, many of which we're unable to capture. There are however milestones in our lives that we feel are imperative to celebrate and these milestones differ from person to person. For some it's a birthday or a new job, while for others it might be getting married, an anniversary, graduating, or a celebration for simply being awesome. Whatever your reason, you should be able to highlight a monumental moment in your life without ending up out-of-pocket afterwards. Whether you're organising a personal celebration or throwing one for work or family, this guide should give you tips regarding how to celebrate on a budget and turning to credit to fund that, be that a loan from a payday lender or some other form of debt might not always be the best bet.

Set a budget

Have you ever been to the supermarket out of boredom or just gone window shopping for the sake of it? Have you also noticed that in those particular instances you often end up leaving the shop with a whole bunch of things you don't need? Yeah, that tends to happen when we don't create a budget for ourselves and plan ahead before spending. With that being said, budgeting is arguably the most crucial stage of celebrating on a budget. If you're the frugal type, you've probably already got an idea of what budgeting is all about, but if not, we've got you covered. Being frugal can help you avoid payday loans to meet a cash flow crisis.

Where you can cut costs

Once you've created your budget and plan, there will be several areas in which you can cut costs. Below we've listed a few practical ways that you can save money in the different aspects of your celebration.

Bowling party

The first thing that comes to mind when throwing a celebration is where exactly it's going to take place. You can either find a free venue or ensure you get one at a discounted price.

Depending on the type of event that you're planning, a venue can be really pricey. If you can, look for free alternatives which include using your own space, or using a friend or family's space. If it isn't possible to use your venue and nobody you know has free space, you still have the option of finding a bar or restaurant that will allow you to use their space in exchange for buying a certain amount of drinks at the bar or depositing on meals.

Should it be that you would rather pay for a venue, you're going to need to take your time and do a lot of research. Remember that venues tend to be booked far in advance seeing as there are only 52 weekends in a year so the earlier you book, the better. There are also several venue finding services that are dedicated to helping you find a venue at no charge, so you could consider this option as well.

Time and date

When hiring a venue, it is good to keep in mind that by choosing certain dates and times you could spend far less. For example, weddings venues are often cheaper to book when held in months such as January, March, April and November, because there's a low demand during this period. Likewise, weekdays (Monday to Thursday) and Sundays tend to work out cheaper than weekends for the same reason. Taking into consideration the fact that most people have to work, weekdays aren't always ideal. However if it does make sense for your celebration, go for it.

Alternative and quirky party venues

  • Swimming pool
  • City farm
  • Gallery or museum
  • Boat
  • Greenhouse


Don't you just love this era of DIY? You can pretty much find out how to do almost anything yourself these days. That's going to work to your advantage when it comes to decorating for your celebration as it means you may not need to hire a decorator. You can customize your banners, cups, plates, and create your own themes from scratch at a low cost. If it becomes too overwhelming, get your creative friends or arts and crafts kids to help you in your venture. If you need inspiration for DIY event decorations, you can check online or watch a few videos. On the other hand, if you would rather just buy the decorations and be done with it, be sure to check a pound shop or online vendors. Remember that when things seem inexpensive, it's easy to buy more than you need, so list out specifics to avoid impulse buys.

"Create your own party decorations" 247Moneybox.com
Click to Tweet

Tech savvy

Since we're on the topic of DIY, we also want to take a moment to appreciate smartphones! In this age of show and tell, we like to document celebratory moments, so it would save you a lot if you could actually do it yourself. People actually manage to make great quality music videos on their phones, so we're sure you can whip up some great video footage yourself. There are several apps that can help you with both photo and video editing. If you're more traditional and would rather use a camera, learn how to operate the one that's been collecting dust at home or ask to borrow a friend's.

Food and drink

Food is one of the main attractions of a celebration. Whether it's a kid's party, a stag-do, or a graduation party, everybody expects something to nibble on. There are several ways you can go about cutting costs on food and drink that won't detract from the big event.

If you want to cut out the hassle of food altogether, celebrate at a restaurant. Take a deposit from each of your guests to secure their seats and you may only have to worry about minor things like subtle decorations and looking fabulous. As they say, "there is nothing better than a home cooked meal". This is especially true when you look at the cost implications of catering services. If your celebration is relatively small and intimate, asking people to bring food may work. It is a great way to ensure you have a variety of food and also takes a great weight off of your shoulders. The only con is that people bringing food may drop out last minute, so make it a priority to plan for that contingency.


Buffets are sometimes easier to manage than three course meals. They also allow people to pick what they want and eliminates the need for finding people to serve food and other formalities. The only disadvantage may be your inability to monitor people's portions, so find a way to ensure most people eat before the food runs out. You can go to a wholesale shop to buy food depending on the number of guests you'll be having. It should still work out cheaper than hiring catering services.


High quality can sometimes mean a high price tag but not always. By cutting out paper invitations, you'll save a lot of money you would incur from design and printing costs. The option is there to create a guest list or RSVP online, and can be done by creating a landing page for the event. If you just want to send out simple invites, you can always design one using free templates online and disseminate via email. If you insist, on doing them try and design it yourself for free so you only have to pay for printing.


Entertainment for a celebration can really run a bill if you're not careful. Don't underestimate the resources you actually have around you who would be happy to host and entertain your guests. Here are a few ideas you could take on board to help you save in the entertainment department.

Be the host

For a typical celebration, a good set of guests, drinks and music should be more than enough to keep them entertained. However, if you have a series of events lined up, you may need someone to coordinate. If you have a bubbly personality, instead of hiring an MC you could feel free to host yourself. You could also get friends or family who are good communicators and good at public speaking to host as well.

Look for up-and-coming entertainers

If having entertainment is essential for you, try looking for up-and coming entertainers online as they will charge less for their services. Social media and entertainment websites are great places to find them.


If at all you're giving out gifts at your celebration, consider buying the items in bulk. Party bags for children for example, would work out cheaper if you bought loads as opposed to buying one item at a time. You could also use the left overs next time the need arises.

How to create a budget

Creating a budget isn't too difficult. Below are some simple steps you can take to get started. Once your budget is good to go, you can get to the more exciting part of it all; putting you plan into place, which requires actual spending.

We recommend you use a spread sheet to create your budget as it's able to calculate figures for you as you go along which will help you avoid calculation mistakes.

Come to a conclusion about how much you're willing to spend without ending up financially cripple afterwards. Remember, it's usually not a good idea to not have money left-over, so make sure it's a comfortable amount.

In this section, you can include information like the theme, how many guests you're inviting, and what kind of features you want at your celebration. Your plan should centre on the initial amount you decided to dedicate to your celebration. While you're whipping up this plan, make sure you keep the amount you budgeted for earlier in mind.

Things to avoid

There are things you'll want to avoid to ensure your celebration is a success on all fronts. Here are our top two:


With an exception to impromptu celebrations that don't take much thought or planning, most events we throw require time and effort. The worst thing you can do is procrastinate as it will leave you overwhelmed and you'll end up stress and probably overspending.

Going over budget

You're going to have to master the art of haggling and apply a little self-discipline to make sure you don't go over your set budget. If you're good enough at finding bargains, you may even find you spend less that you set out to. Continuously keep track of what you're spending by documenting it in your excel sheet and also make sure you're checking how much you have left. That way you can steer away from any form of short term or loan from a payday lender.


Celebrating on a budget is going to require diligence, patience and self-discipline but it will be worth it when the party is over and your account balance is smiling. Nothing kills the high of a celebration like realizing you've over spent and will have to work hard to regain your balance financially. This process of cutting costs isn't an easy one, but with enough time and planning, you'll be a pro at the end of it all! If all else fails, you could always scrap all of the event planning and go for a simple outing with the people you love to celebrate. When was the last time you hosted a celebration? We would like to hear about your experiences and what you did to ensure you didn't overspend.

Share this post with your friends as you never know when a celebration may arise and they'll need it! For more information on how to create a budget check out the budgeting pages at this debt charity website.