By Tabassum Sayeka
Who doesn’t love family get-togethers and dawaats? But it’s WAY TOO EASY to go overboard with epic party ideas, blowing your budget in the process. Entertaining is expensive and hosting a family get-together or dawaat is no small task (and one that often falls on Mom). Yet the cost of entertaining often stops a dawaat planning session in its tracks, but there are ways to throw a fabulous shindig without breaking the bank.
So, before you whip out your credit card and start spending money, hold up. Family get-togethers should be about creating memorable experiences rather than giving gifts or spending money. It’s about bringing families together and enjoying each other’s company while you make memories.
With these fun yet cheap party decorating ideas and inspiring pictures of party decorations, you can be the host with the most and still have money left over for the food.
If you don’t enjoy cooking or prefer NOT to do a potluck event, pick menu options that don’t require cooking. When you’re hosting a family get-together, the last thing you want to do is stow away in the kitchen the entire time!
Depending on your menu, you can serve chips on the side, pasta salad, simple chopped up fruit, or veggies and dip. If you have a lot of kiddos coming to the party, it’s best to go for simple grab-and-go sides that don’t require a bunch of prep (or extra dishes). But if you want a ‘Bhuribhoj’ with full-on spicy and Bengali dishes, you must ensure everything being half-done the night before the dawaat day. Kacchi biriyani is everyone’s favourite which can be served just with kabab and one gravy item. Alongside traditional polao-korma, a vorta-vaji menu idea is super easy and lucrative. On a tight budget? Forgo fancy and expensive dishes and craft your own. Pedestal bowl is a good option. You can make pedestal bowls from melamine bowls glued to spray-painted candlesticks. Simple, frugal, yet gorgeous! If you’re REALLY not looking forward to cleaning up after the party, check your local store for paper plates, and plastic cups and serving ware. (It’s also good if you’re concerned about breaking glass outside.
A simple decorative buffet may be the only party decor you need, or do it like this party planner in the photo and showcase the dessert table. Options can include Kool-Aid which is a cheap, fun drink that everyone loves. For dessert, try popsicles or ice cream with fresh fruit (or served as root beer floats). Easy, simple, and everyone will love it!
Gathering all family members in your home to share a meal is truly one of life’s great pleasures. But the prospect of spending the time and money required to put on a fine feast for a hungry, thirsty crowd can be enough to make you think twice about sending out invitations. That’s why a potluck is the perfect compromise! You still get the satisfaction of hosting a convivial dinner party while everyone shares the load. When you’re the host, remember to dig out extra serving platters, baskets, and utensils before your guests arrive. Not everyone brings food ready to be served. You don’t want to be distracted from your guests because you’re pulling things out of your attic or cabinets. As a host you should have enough supply of beverages and also should prepare the main dish.
Your party theme will set the tone for the entire event. The good news is there’s bazillions of ideas out there. It can be a sports theme where you can tailgate with burgers and sandwiches, it can be in regional theme where you can form your menu-activities-decorations around different regional themes like Bangla, South-Indian, Italian/Mediterranean, Western and more! You can also arrange backyard camping or movie/book themed parties where everyone will dress up as their favourite characters. So why not re-live the 70’s-80’s classic movie time? Once you’ve picked your favorite budget party theme, it’s easy to build on it! It’ll shape your whole party plan and keep everything on track.
You can make a photo booth easily on a particular theme. Photo ops are all the rage these days because they encourage guests to capture the best moments. You can also provide silly hats, wigs, glasses and other party paraphernalia that turns a regular image into a framer to remember!
Bright colors can make anyone think, “Party” and with the plethora of store paper goods and free printables, you can decorate for a party without spending the big bucks. Concerned about the waste? Make it a greener celebration by recycling papers like brown paper bags into fun party bunting or decorations.
If tons of color is not your thing, go with a one-color decor scheme. White is one of the simplest color schemes to pull off and one of the cheapest. If you need to impress some people, it may be less expensive to rent linens than to buy them, but don’t forget to check fabric stores. Burlap or muslin is very inexpensive and can make wonderful party decor, no sewing skills required. Most fabrics look fine frayed around the edges and work well for napkins, tablecloths, and table runners.
Create a family tree with a human size cardboard cutout in the shape of a tree. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a tree it can be a timeline, castle, or anything else everyone will recognize as your family’s generations. Give each person a piece of the tree and have them write their information on it and put it on the tree where they come in the family tree.
Make the use of banners to put a clear message about the family reunion such as “This is the family reunion of the Khan family”, check tickets for door prizes, or some type of scavenger hunt items they should be looking for. Another great idea is to use sayings from literature, cartoons, sports, or the weekend funnies to direct everyone to certain areas in the venue or areas whether there is something special happening. It depends on the theme and what your family likes.
Try a card game or a game like Tenzi or Uno that doesn’t require a ton of skill but gets everyone laughing and engaged. If your family is crafty, you could try letting everyone paint a watercolor or other little painting projects they could take home with them afterwards. Decorating a picture frame from the local store or making a paper-craft that matches your party theme can also be fun.
Of course, what is a family reunion without balloons and streamers including wall hangings and perhaps refrigerator art from everyone’s childhood? Make your party pop by hanging balloons from the ceiling with curling ribbon or string, scatter them around on the floor, or use the balloons to create a fun shape (like the birthday number) or backdrop on the wall.
Make a collage of old family photos on the wall for everyone to re-live the memory. You can also have a camera handy to take pictures of how they look today and put them with the old photographs. Be sure to put the person’s information on them such as birthday, and other information they are willing to share. You can a make center piece of the photos by putting them on Popsicle sticks or standalone images on cardboard as the center piece.
When it comes to party favors, don’t stress! The biggest rule of party planning is to have fun and let yourself enjoy the party, too! People don’t expect red-carpet treatment when they come to a family get-together or party. They just want to enjoy the company, laugh, and make memories.
Super simple party favors are just FINE. A baked dessert (cookies, cupcakes) is easy and cheap, and your guests can enjoy it on the way home. But some desi desserts like gulaabjamun, payesh, firni can be really the cherry on the top. Your guests can also take home the item they crafted (if you set up a craft station). If you have time, email your guests a simple thank you and include your favorite photos from the party. You can easily give them a swag bag- “SWAG” means: something we all get. The goodies can include sun screen (of course!), nuts, gum, candy, a Karstad water bottle, and a schedule of the long weekend’s events, along with a phone list.