For those of you planning to throw an Academy Awards party, here's how to roll out the red carpet for guests while keeping your budget safely in the black. These cheap party tips are a breeze to execute and transfer easily across party themes.
17 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Oscar Party
Take an inventory of items already on hand -- in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer -- and build a menu around these supplies.
Instead of a rigidly planned menu, head to the store and let the weekly specials help guide your Academy Awards party offerings. Search for more discounts and sales online.
If you see a quantity limit on any advertised item, buy that amount. This usually signifies a loss leader, which means the grocer is selling the product at or below cost, and definitely should be part of the awards party spread.
If you have time to shop during more than one week, you can take advantage of each week's best sales, gathering whatever you need when the price is right. This is a sure way to save money and avoid the panic of the last minute rush.
Stacking deals involves finding a sale and adding in other discounts. For example, sparkling grape juice that usually sells for $4.99 a bottle may be on sale for $3 a bottle at, say, Walgreens. Walgreens' coupon booklet contains an "instant value coupon" for another $1 off two bottles. Add in a manufacturer coupon from the Sunday paper for another $1 savings on two bottles. Bottom line: two bottles of sparkling grape juice for $4. Similar stacking opportunities on goodies like champagne, candy, and gourmet crackers may pop up.
Crackers are one of those food items for which "full price" rarely applies. You often can find coupons worth more than half off the regular price. The store brand is also a good option (no one will know the difference) in the absence of coupons or sales on the fancy varieties. Most major supermarket chains stock premium store brands of gourmet products, such as fancy crackers; offers such as two for $5 are common.
Make several ice rings for the punch bowl and wrap and store in the freezer. If you don't have an ice ring, a bundt pan will do. Pour a thin layer of water in the pan and freeze; remove and add in-season fresh fruits and freeze again; remove and add another layer of water and freeze; then add a final layer of fresh fruit and freeze. The day before, set the bottom of the mold in warm water and turn out the ice ring, wrap in plastic wrap and return to the freezer. Have fresh, in-season fruit ready to garnish each glass. Strawberries are especially striking; make a thin slice in the side and place on the rim
Guests usually ask if they can bring something to share with the crowd. Don't be shy about accepting the offer. Suggest finger food desserts, which are perfect for a grazing party on Academy Awards night.