In our world of #lifegoals and Instagram bragging, parties are expected to be over-the-top and full of glamorous excess. Most people I know would love to throw parties, but don’t because they’re afraid of being judged. Since they can’t afford Kardashian-level best of the best, they would rather not have a party at all.

Lisa Marie Hunt — the owner of Events by Lisa Marie in Beaverton, Oregon — knows that meeting high expectations with a high price tag is not the only way to have a fabulous time with your friends. Here, she shares a few tricks of the party trade on how to do it for less than $100!

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1. Have a Simple, Polished Plan

“If great food and atmosphere are important to you, work with a florist to have simple arrangements done that can give a pop of color to the home,” Hunt says. “If it’s just a house dinner party or a house birthday party, you don’t need a ton of decor. Your guests aren’t coming to look at the decor — they’re coming to spend time with you and make memories.”

“You don’t have to rent fancy china if that’s not in the budget,” she adds.

“There are lots of places that sell clear heavy plates that are plastic. Most people don’t even realize that’s what they are. They think they’re acrylic plates, because that’s nicer. But do rent cloth linens.”

Opt to serve comfort food that’s not super-fancy when planning a party on a budget. Your favorite take-out places come in handy here, as does your local mom-and-pop shop that does great, reasonably priced catering.

2. Spark Entertaining Conversation

“You don’t always need entertainment. Sometimes you just need to break the ice,” Hunt says. “We make cards that say things like ‘Find someone who was born in the same city as you’ or ‘Find someone whose favorite color is the same as yours’ — little things that force people to interact.”

We’ve all been to a party full of uncomfortable silences and guests trying to avoid eye contact while nervously sipping their drinks. As awkward as icebreakers can be, having the whole party engage in them really helps everyone interact with more than just whoever accompanied them. Have fun while creating your icebreakers. You can write anything on the cards, from people’s pet peeves to their favorite TV shows.

3. Picking a Theme Saves Money

A themed party is not exclusively for people who can afford grand events. If you’re planning a party on a budget, a theme can help you from overspending or overbuying. It will also help your menu be consistent and your guests notice more details at your event.

“You want your food — something that everybody remembers — to drive home the theme of the party,” Hunt says. “Any embellishments that aren’t costly can also solidify that theme.” 

4. Go Forth and Party On!

Party planning can be overwhelming. Our expectations often blind us from seeing a simple solution that is more enjoyable for both the guests and the host. Hunt’s tips take the headache and budget-breaking out of planning a party and make it what it’s supposed to be: fun and easy.

How to Plan a Party on a Budget: The Cost Breakdown

Here’s a sample breakdown of a party for 10 people — decorations, dinner, and dessert — that will cost you less than $100. Prices are from, except where noted.

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Item Quantity Total
White tablecloth, $3.29 1 $3.29
Peruvian lilies, $7.99 5 $39.95

Dinner (grilled pork chops, roasted potatoes, roasted carrots)

Item Quantity Total
Pork chops (pack of 2), $4.49 5 $22.45
Potatoes (5-lb bag), $4.19 1 $4.19
Carrots (2-lb bag), $1.89 3 $5.67

Dessert (typical local-bakery price)

Item Quantity Total
Cake or pie, $12 each 2 $24
Total party cost $99.55