Entertaining on a Budget

Entertaining on a BUDGET can be hard! Here are 3 ways to host a party without breaking the bank!

Entertaining on a BUDGET

In the Hey, Ashley Membership Collective this is one of the topmost asked questions:


Hey, Ashley! How can I host a gathering on a budget, but make it look like something I see on Pinterest or Instagram? 


Entertaining on a budget—

You’ve searched this online, so here are 3 easy ways to host a party without breaking the bank. It can be Insta-worthy, while not spending a lot, and not arts and crafts time. You’ve got this friend!

Budget Friendly Tablescape

Hey, y’all! I’m Ashley Elizabeth, founder of Sweetpea Lifestyle where good food gathers people. I’m the hostess with the mostest who is ringing in a new southern belle by editing out the mess of the over-complicated dinner party.

Raise your hand if you’ve been to the over-complicated dinner party.

Raise your hand if you hosted the over-complicated dinner party. 

{I’m raising both of my hands…}

While I appreciate them, and I tried to host that way for years, I’m over it.

One, they’re expensive AF. Seriously.

Even if you buy all the things on Amazon and at the Dollar Store, and craft your little heart out…

The time and energy you spent… was it worth it??

Did it actually make your event better? Like, did people have a better time because of all the things you did??

Handmade Food Labels

A little story time… Many moons ago, I hosted this way. 

I can remember one of my favorite parties I hosted – my friend Kate’s wedding shower.

It was Mason Jar themed… from the food labels to the cutout cookies to the invitations. I also made corsages for the bride and both moms. A friend and I made all the food. We had close to 60 people on the invite list, and no one ate a thing! A few people got plates, but we had so much food leftover it was ridiculous.

While this is still a favorite party I hosted, it was one where after the big “Why did I do all this?!” question came up. I kept hearing guests say: “I can’t believe how much work you did!” “I could never have you over, this is crazy!” and that wasn’t the point.

Even though I’m a 3 on the enneagram, and I love being the performer, that’s not what hosting is about.

All those thoughtful details didn’t make people have a better time. They didn’t help old friends catch up. The time and effort it took to create all of it wasn’t necessarily wasted but could have been used to do other things. 


Sooooo friends, there are 3 easy ways for entertaining on a budget

Entertaining on a Budget


I’m going to say it, social media has ruined expectations for entertaining and hosting. ((I was a part of that problem, y’all!))

One way to make it simple is to shift expectations.

When people come over, they are expecting something nice ((And it’s nice, just not Martha Stewart level…)), an over the top meal, or something super crafty and handmade. But, that’s just not how I do things anymore.

I’ve edited out my own mess of over-complicated dinner parties so I can ENJOY the party, and make it look effortless. You can edit out the mess, too, friend!


So, the second way for entertaining on a budget, USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

Candlelight Dinner Setting

If you’re a theme person (I’m not too into actual themes… that’s another video another day…), think about what you have in your home that you can use for your party. 

If you’re hosting a baby shower and the theme is books, pull out all your kid’s books and use them for decorations. Set flower arrangements on top, put food on top of a stack. Use them all to tie the theme in, but it’s a free item… You already had them! So, call up Dave and tell him you’re winning at the budgeting right now.

There is no need to go out and buy new dishes with pumpkins or Christmas trees on them. Miss Minimalist right here, and while I love fine china and cute things for every season, I don’t want to store it! So, white plates. Simple glass (ball jars are great, y’all!) ware. 

This also goes for food! If you know you’re having people over for Friday night, and you’ve got a lot of tortilla chips and salsa in your pantry, use it! If you roasted a chicken and have leftovers, turn it into a soup and invite your neighbors over. They won’t know if you’re using the end of one bag of chips if you put them in a bowl.

Check out my Amazon Influencer Storefront and check out the items you may need to add to your collection.


Finally, Number 3: DELEGATE.

Pulled Pork Bean Chalupa Recipe

“What can I bring?” — we’ve all heard people ask this when you invite them over. Choose a menu where others can help you with the party. 

“How can I help?” — entertaining on a budget doesn’t just mean money… Your time is also worth something. So, when someone asks if they can help, let them! 

Here are some menu ideas that are great for when people ask what can they bring. 

Easy Brunch Recipes


Ask friends to bring doughnuts, muffins, fruit, and other things. Make the egg casserole. You can make a big pot of grits, and have your friends bring toppings. Do a big bagel board, asking people to bring something to add to it.

Pulled Pork Bean Chalupa!

bean chalupa bar

Y’all. This is the party of my childhood.

We had “Chalupa Parties” so often. My parents made the big pot of pulled pork and bean chalupa, and they asked our friends to bring all the toppings.

A Simple Snack Board

Ask people to come not during mealtime.

Having people over in the mid-afternoon or late evening doesn’t mean having to feed them. Because I’m from the south you’ll get something in your belly, maybe not a full meal.  A simple cheese board for after dinner gabbing on the front porch. An afternoon tea party with muffins and tea is great! 

Entertaining on a Budget

Finally, here’s what you have to remember, y’all.

Entertaining—hosting is not about a lavish affair.

While those are fun, it’s about gathering your people around good food and cultivating community.

That good food can be a jar of pimento cheese and some crackers, heck it could be a box of Cheez-Its! 

It’s about the conversations had around the table with the people who will change the world.

Save this graphic to your favorite entertaining board on Pinterest!


Similar Posts


  1. Such great tips for entertaining on a budget! I love your tip to not have people come at mealtime, then you can just serve fun appetizers. My favorite is Giada’s caponata – everyone loves it!

  2. These are GREAT ideas! We are having a brunch wedding shower for my sister soon, and we will have a bagel bar and a parfait bar.

    When I’m entertaining at home, one of my go-to’s is pasta! It’s quick, cheap, filling, and loved by all. Serve it with garlic bread and a green salad and you’re all set! Here’s one of my favorite pasta recipes: https://www.thegraciouswife.com/creamy-sausage-pasta-recipe/

  3. Such a helpful guide! I definitely agree with delegating – love the idea of using leftover chicken for a soup for entertaining!

  4. So many great tips here. I can’t wait until restrictions are lifted and we can have people round again.

    1. Me too!! We did do a socially distanced dinner party in our front yard (each family/couple had their own table), and it was A LOT OF WORK… I made individually boxed dinners for everyone, and even though it was only 12 people, it was a lot of work and stress! It was fun though, to see some family members I hadn’t seen in a while.

Comments are closed.