Budgets, you can't live without 'em, but these days it's not always easy to live with the ones you've got. If nothing else, the smaller-than-ideal budget does force one to come up with creative, inexpensive solutions to event challenges. I call it the era of the work-around, which was inspired by several events I worked on this recently. Since June, I've produced a number of big-budget affairs, plus several events on a shoe-string for non-profit organizations. For the shoe-string events, the challenge was to make them look as festive as the big budget numbers without breaking the bank. Here are a few quick solutions we came up with along the way - perhaps they'll inspire you the next time you need a work-around idea for your next on-a-shoestring event, or simply when you need to get the job done with more dash than cash. Here are the first two ideas for today, with two more to follow in my next post:
1.) HMM, NOW ABOUT THAT OPEN BAR...
- Challenge: A summer afternoon garden party fund-raiser for a client who wanted it to appear that the drinks were flowing, without taking on the expense of a full open bar.
- Solution: A drinks menu of just three light and summery options: a pre-mixed signature vodka cocktail, white wine and cava, the inexpensive sparkling wine alternative to champagne, all bought by the case from a local discounter. Another benefit of the streamlined drinks options: we were able to serve the crowd quickly with half as many bartenders as they'd hired for previous events.
2.) I'M SITTING AT THE JOSEPHINE BAKER TABLE....
- Challenge: A 20s themed dinner for 200 with a $300 budget line for table decor because other expenses had eaten up the event budget.
- Solution: Centerpieces made on the super-cheap: boxes of retro cigarettes (candy, of course); strings of white flapper beads; second-hand martini glasses bought from a thrift store; and flameless candles in votives, casually arranged on top of borderless black and white printouts of 20s film stars, musicians, writers, gangsters, famous faces and historical moments of the decade, printed out from the office printer and mounted on to black construction paper. Approximate total cost per centerpiece: $5 each. Guests loved the vintage images and even the accounting department was impressed by the low-cost work-around!
Need to contain your costs when budgets are tight? Read With a Bevy of Bevvies to Choose from, Which Beverage Function Is Right for You? and Event Smarts: 5 Painless Ways to Trim F & B Costs.