How To Throw a Pinterest-Worthy Party on the Cheap

Is there anything more intimidating than throwing a party? You’ve wandered over to Pinterest and decided you’d rather commit social suicide than spend one more minute looking at blogs about savory menu pairings and gilt edged tableware. The extent of your culinary repertoire is a half-decent grilled cheese and those salad creation bags that come with all the shit you need already in them. And yet, somehow, someone has convinced you that you are not an adult until you’ve thrown your first dinner party, or kid's party, or holiday party. And you know what? It’s true. So come with me.

We’re going to adult for a while. I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.


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But, wait! You protest. You have a serious lack of fundage. Student loans the size of a god damn mortgage payment, a cracked windshield you can’t afford to replace right now and an internship that may someday blossom into an actual fucking job. You know jobs- those things that put cash in your bank account. It’s okay. We’re all in the same boat here, sinking under the weight of financial stress. Dinner parties done with the proper planning and strategizing don’t have to break the bank. I’ve been throwing some colossal adult like events for years on shoestring budgets.

Let me show you the way, young Padawan to a Pinterest-worthy party that’ll cost pennies. 


Theme It Up

Yes, you should probably pick some sort of basic theme to connect your tableware to your menu and set the tone for the night. But the key here is to pick something you already have the décor for. Riffle through your closets and raid your storage boxes. Still have those flower leis from your graduation party? Great! You’re having a fancy luau. Cut those bitches up and place them artfully around the table, paint people’s names on them and use them as seating cards. Whatever. You get the idea. Use the crap you already have.


Go Paperless

Create an event on Facebook or use a free website like Punchbowl to do paperless invitations with your theme visually incorporated. But for the love of God, please don’t kill trees to produce invitations to your dinner party. It’s obnoxious. Seriously. Nobody cares. Go get paint sample cards from Home Depot in colors coordinating with your theme and use sharpies to write out the invites. Do what you must but there is literally no good reason to spend any of your hard earned cash on this piece of the party. Mmmkay?

boozy ice cream social


Menu Magic

Now is when we disappear down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. Cookbooks are dead and free recipes from millions of blogs are very, very alive. But be careful here. Let me spare you tears and a trip to the ER with third degree burns. DO NOT attempt to make something you have never made before. DO NOT DO IT. It will seem like a good idea. The pictures will be gorgeous, sprinkled with magic fairy dust and just the right lighting. It’s a trick. Focus on entrees that incorporate inexpensive cuts of meat (if you’re into that sort of thing) like chicken or pork. Use seasonal veggies and fruits that you might be able to pick up at local markets inexpensively. And let the guests bring the high ticket items like wine and hard liquor. That’s what guests are for. Those bitches are getting a free meal on you, so let them do a little penance with their wallet.

Menu Frame.jpg

Backyard bash


Tableware Trouble

Uh oh. You invited eight but you only have enough chipped and cracked plates in your cabinet for 6. Nope. Not a problem. Disposable tableware is some pretty fancy shit these days and it looks real. Avoid the big box party stores because they are literally trying to rip you off. The dollar store, Target, the grocery store, Oriental Trading Company, online. Pretty much anywhere else but the party store. Anyplace that has a deranged clown in their logo is not for you. There’s no fun to be had there. Alternatively, you can skip over to your local thrift store and pick up some tableware for cheap. It only has to loosely coordinate so stick with white to blend with your existing dishes or get mismatched plates in a variety of the same general hues. It’ll actually look all artsy and shit. Promise. Like ombre highlights for your table.

Summer Supper


Décor Drama

Pinterest is going to lure you in again with all those gorgeous cake stands and elaborate centerpieces. Don’t go there. You can accomplish a lot with a bunch of scrapbook paper in cute colors and patterns, a bouquet of grocery store flowers and some carefully placed candles. You know those puffy, hanging party pompoms that everyone has and those fancy flag pennant banners? You can make those in half an hour with some scissors, a glue gun, tissue paper or cardstock and some fucking ingenuity. You got this. 

a blue farewell party



Welcome to the internet. Music and ambiance are free. Just load up Pandora or Spotify. They already have channels pre-selected with appropriate dinner party music. You don’t even have to make a playlist. You can, if you want. But those people over there are professionals. Let them do their damn jobs and enjoy.


Bonus Martha Stewart points

Feeling accomplished yet? Want some serious “wow” factor? Let’s up your game. Publish your menu to the event invite and then either have a chalkboard on hand with it written out or print out the course offerings and leave a menu card on each person’s plate. Use lots of adjectives and nouns. Adjectives and nouns are your friends. It’s not just pork. It’s roasted pork tenderloin in a brandy sauce with pine nuts. Put out some special lotions and a candle or two in the bathroom, where guests will also be spending some time during the evening. Throwing a great party just involves thinking about the guest experience and investing time in the details that’ll make the difference. Fa-tucking-da! 

A Very Happy Harry Potter Birthday: Mischief Managed


Come join the party over on Pinterest or download a copy of the guide.