How to Throw an Inexpensive Party

One way to market yourself in your community is to throw an event after hours. It does not need to be an all-night event, just one or two hours. Your colleagues and potential business partners have also worked all day.

As with planning a personal party at your home, an office event takes thought and time but does not have to break the bank. Here are some ideas you may want to consider when planning your  next event:

E-Invitations can be sent using Evite, an online invitation site which has several professional event card templates. Once you select the invitation design, enter information about the event (type of event, date, time, location, etc.).  Once that is complete, send the invitation to your email list. Guests then accept or decline. You can also send a reminder or updates (such as weather-related venue changes) before the event. These invitations are free. This link will put you on the Evite professional event site: Evite

Pipe in your own music. iPods give you more options. You can put together an entire evening’s worth of music in an event playlist. Once you start the music, you won’t have to thing about it again for the rest of your event. If you don’t have a sound system that plays an iPod, borrow one from a friend.

Appeal to the senses:

Smell — use a light, pleasant air freshener, such as lavender; it is not too sweet or overpowering and will relax your guests. Don’t forget the restroom facilities! Put an air freshener in the restrooms, such as the plug-ins, but don’t leave a spray can in sight. If the smell of the center is pleasant to them, then they will remember it.

Sight — clean, clean, clean! Make sure everything is clean and will pass the ’white glove’ test; no dust or dust bunnies; nothing on the floor that does not belong there; even light bulbs in lamps within sight of your guests. Clean light fixtures, switch plates, doors and door knobs, etc.

Co-host the event with others. For example, invite related companies with the same target base as your center, but can host the event with you without being in competition with your center.

Keep it casual and relaxed. The fancier you make your event, the more your guests will expect, from tempting appetizers to surf and turf. A tasteful but small arrangement of ‘nibblers’ will be sufficient for your guests. You have brought them together for information sharing, not happy hour.

Keep the appetizers simple. Combine fresh vegetables, pita-bread slices and hummus for one appetizer; prepare fruit chunks on skewers for another. All are tasty without breaking the budget.

Have small take-away gift bags for your guests. Using a stick-on logo and plain black and/or white gift bags, you can create inexpensive bags for brochures, business cards, forms, etc. for your guest to take when leave your event. If you have a small item with your logo, such as a key ring, mouse pad, pen, etc., include it in the gift bag. They will be reminded of you when they use the item.

Another consideration is where to get items for your event.

Warehouses are good for your ‘nibblers’. Visit your nearby CostcoSam’s or BJ’s to see what they have to offer.

Party stores, such as PartyCity, or online sites can provide upscale party supplies. These would include your plates, napkins, etc. A few online sites to consider would include:

Please note: the online sites listed here cater to all themes and occasions but they all carry solid colored table items. Some sites will personalize items (i.e., your center’s name on a cup). Others will offer in-store coupons, such as iPartylocated in Florida.

When planning your event’s tableware, select something suggesting a business setting, not a child’s birthday party. Stay away from fluted stemware—your event is not a cocktail party, but a professional way to introduce yourself. You will want to consider something classic and clean, such as black or white, or a mix of black and white. Stay away from hot, brightly colored items. Food served and your surroundings will provide color.

Be creative. Be professional. Enjoy yourself and your guests. Share your success with your team.