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I like to host a party. We usually have several very large ones a year, once we had around 300. I spend minimal money and energy in having them. We live on a large farm, so most of my events are outside. People always ask how I do it, so I am going to share some of my tips, based on 30 years of experience. Most of these pertain to July 4, but you can easily adapt for "any" holiday.
However, for the event I am hosting next week for July 4, I will be dipping into my Valentine and Christmas totes as well as my patriotic one. Why? For the red items. Red candles aren't just for Christmas, or Valentine, or July 4. Items such as red candles, lines, or tins can be used numerous times throughout the year. The red candles I will be using I bought after Christmas last year for 29 cents each.
For tablecloths, you can use quilts, clean unstained sheets, or reusable tablecloths. I never use the disposable ones. Why pay for them year after year when for just a few dollars more you can have one that will never wear out or rip for years and years. This year I will be using a couple quilts and some red and blue sheets to cover my tables. (As another savings, I am borrowing our tables from our church, no fees to rent or money tied up in buying them).
Centerpieces are items found around the house, such as a blue speckled graniteware bowel to hold my red cloth napkins, another blue speckled graniteware crock to hold the silverware. I have some Mason jars that I will fill with colored sand and candles or red, white, and blue marbles and then will stand a small flag or pinwheel in. Some 25 cent baskets found at a garage sale have been spray painted red, white, and blue to hold the cups and plates. Hobby Lobby had some small wooden stars which I painted gold. Those can be scattered on a table top for July 4 or Christmas. Christmas lights of red, white, and blue will be in the trees. From the dollar store I have reusable plastic containers for chips and food. I have them in red, white, blue, green, orange, and pastel yellow. I paid 50 cents each for them and with this color combination all the holidays are covered. All my items are reusable and are used over and over, thus, no expense after you buy them the first time.
In this case, make sure they have a place that is clean and comfortable, and where they can see out the window to watch the events. Possibly have a game or puzzle inside for them as well. Lock any doors that you don't want your guests going into. If you have a large house, you might even want to put up some signs pointing the way to the restroom. You may also need to put up the cat and tie the dog up. No one wants your animal babies jumping on them, or in their food.
By mom-from-missouri from NW, MO
My thought is that when I entertain, I don't want a whole bunch of laundry to do after the fact, so therefore I use really cheap plastic tablecloths and paper napkins. At $3.00 a load to do laundry in the apartment complex that I live in it is just plain unaffordable to have to do several loads of unnecessary laundry. Our washers and dryers aren't that large either.