I have a love of entertaining. Just ask my husband- the poor guy says "let's invite some friends over for dinner", and before he knows it, we have a 50 person party complete with food, decorations, and music. I just can't help myself- I go to the store and I find myself in the dish and platter section scheming up a new dinner party idea, or I'll pour over recipes for the next meal to try out on my guinea pig friends (they don't know they're my guinea pigs :)
I have, however, had to find some organization in the midst of the chaos for throwing parties- both for my husband's sanity and for our budget. Here are some ideas I've implemented that keep my wallet in check and my parties happy:
1) Create a collection of all-occasion platters, dishes, and display pieces.
While I have a love for the newest colorful trendy items out there as much as the next gal, it's just not cost effective to buy a whole new set of dishes for each party you throw. Instead, I collect white ceramic dishes and platters- you can dress them up and dress them down as much as you need to. I'll occasionally throw in some clear or silver pieces depending on the occasion.
I also don't buy my platters at full retail cost- I go to places like TJ Maxx and mix and match my white ceramics.
2) Use items you already have for decor
Unless you have unlimited space and money, I find it's much more realistic to just use what you have, and supplement. I always keep a big, bulk bag of tea lights on hand, and I have several shapes and sizes of votives and other candlle holders on hand. These candles serve as normal house decorations until party day, when they are decorated or placed in different areas for party decor.
Add some fresh flowers for a centerpiece and throw in a new scent refill for your Glade and you're good to go.
3) Make the dish simple, and choose one that doesn't keep you in the kitchen the whole time.
Do not use your friends as guinea pigs. I use mine as guinea pigs, but I do so at my own risk (and I have really good friends that will keep coming even after I serve a possibly horrid meal). Instead, save the experimentations for you and your hubby or fiance (unconditional love, right?), and you'll save yourself a lot of heartache on party day. Besides, a party is meant to be fun and to be an opportunity to visit with your friends. If you're stuck in the kitchen the entire time, it's not much fun for anyone.
4) Offer only 1 or 2 beverage options
Unless you're purposely offering a full bar, offering wine and beer will be just fine.
These are just some of the tricks I use for throwing parties. It keeps things simple, and your parties fun.