PERSONAL FINANCE: How to save money if you're hosting a party this spring

PARTY TIME: Whether you're having a few friends over or planning a bigger event, making - and sticking to - a budget is key
PARTY TIME: Whether you're having a few friends over or planning a bigger event, making - and sticking to - a budget is key PARTY TIME: Whether you're having a few friends over or planning a bigger event, making - and sticking to - a budget is key

WITH a bumper crop of bank holidays and Eurovision filling up social diaries in May, there'll be plenty to celebrate. Wedding season is also getting under way, and more people will be planning parties and get-togethers as we move into summer.

But with living costs, including food prices, still soaring and inflation at 10.1 per cent in March, hosts will be looking to stretch their budgets - without compromising on the fun.

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, says: "While rampant inflation continues to rob us all of purchasing power, there will still be many of us who would want to commemorate the rare coronation of a monarch, celebrate the UK hosting Eurovision and make the most of the three May bank holidays."

So, how can you throw a fun party while staying mindful of your finances? Firstly, Jobson says: "Do an honest assessment of your finances and determine how much you can afford to spend."

He suggests making the most of supermarket loyalty cards and points, too.

"Instead carrying the full weight of the catering burden, consider having a potluck - asking your guests to bring a dish and/or a bottle for all to enjoy," he adds. "This can work particularly well for Eurovision - guests could prepare dishes from countries taking part in the competition.

"If you fancy getting out of the house to celebrate the King's coronation, there are a host of events you can attend - some of which are free."

Elle McAtamney, a spokesperson for Canada Life, also emphasises the importance of setting a budget.

She says: "If planning isn't your strong suit, then look to cut back on general weekend activities for a while, opting for cheap or free things to do instead.

"Remember that beyond these events comes summer and potentially holidays, and you don't want to be left short for those," she adds.

McAtamney suggests switching to supermarket 'own brand' products to save cash, and perhaps considering adding in some recipes with less expensive ingredients: "No one will know the difference anyway, especially if you choose to cook from scratch."

If you're expecting friends and neighbours to contribute items to a street or house party, McAtamney also suggests being specific about what they should bring - "as you don't want to end up with 12 bottles of Pimm's and no lemonade".

Guests could also bring additional decorations, dinnerware and cutlery - so that you don't have to fork out for all of it.

McAtamney says: "Most people will have paper plates and cups leftover from their own parties, so it's always worth asking before buying new."

It's also important to be mindful, though, not to put cost pressures on guests that could make them feel uncomfortable and end up spoiling the party.

Some guests may be able to contribute in ways that don't involve spending, for example by helping make decorations.

Both Jobson at McAtamney also warn against the temptation to go overboard in order to impress people.

Jobson says: "Remember, we are all feeling the cost-of-living pinch."

McAtamney adds: "Don't feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses. Your guests will be attending your party because they value your company, so if you have to cull a few extras, don't feel bad, and certainly don't apologise."

If you're booking live entertainment to make the party go with a swing, it may also be worth considering how travel costs could affect the price you're charged.

Jonny Ross, founder of Jonny Ross Music, which provides music packages for events, says: "Booking a local band is one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to saving money on your party entertainment.

"Simply put, the further they need to travel, the less of a bargain you're going to get. Whilst it seems like an obvious tip, many people just don't realise how much of their budget will go towards travel costs."

Ross adds: "Another thing to consider is reducing the line-up. Whilst not always possible, some bands will offer the option to perform with fewer members, ultimately helping to put them back in your price range. It never hurts to ask!"

Making sure you're adequately insured could also be key, particularly if you're worried about valuables being damaged when someone decides to bust out their best dance moves.

Hannah Davidson, senior underwriting manager at Aviva, explains: "Accidental damage cover, an optional add-on to home buildings and contents insurance, can provide peace of mind in the event of any unexpected breakages or spillages.

"So, if someone spills red wine on the carpet or some over-enthusiastic dancing knocks over a TV, this insurance can help to put things right, whether the damage was caused by the customer or an invited guest."

Davidson adds: "People should also be aware that most home insurance policies will include public liability insurance, in the - hopefully unlikely - event that someone should have a trip or fall while at their property and the host is found to be at fault for the accident."

Risks can be minimised by putting away breakable objects beforehand, or perhaps limiting guests to certain rooms or hosting outside if the weather allows, she suggests.

That way, you can get on with enjoying the party.