Party Planning on a Budget (interview on NBC LA with Colleen Williams)

I had a lot of fun sharing my ideas with Colleen Williams and the viewers of NBC’s Nonstop News program.  The best part was getting out into my neighborhood and looking for inspiration and interesting cost-effective ways to create an impressive look without spending lots of money.  Here are some of the details that will help you create your own inspired look without breaking the bank.

Tulips in the Garden

Tulips in the Garden

For this Tulips in the Garden arrangement, I used drinking glasses and a vase from Ross and mirrors from Target.  The drinking glasses were just $0.68 each and make beautiful containers for flowers and candles.  I glued two drinking glasses together to create an elevated candle.  White tulips are from Trader Joe’s and the total cost of all materials is about $35.  This arrangement would retail for $120.  It’s a great option for an elegant evening party or a wedding reception.  The candlelight reflecting in the mirrors creates a beautiful romantic look.   You need about 20 minutes to put this together.

Milk and Cookies with a Twist
It’s perfect for a baby shower or a fun outdoor party.

Milk and Cookies with a Twist

To create this whimsical look, I used old-style milk bottles from Bed and Bath and assorted flowers including sunflowers from Trader Joe’s.  Copper pipe bends easily around the containers and makes these arrangements more interesting.  You can even put a flower into the tube for extra impact.  My favorite elements are the flattened stones, which I cut out from a bath mat that I found at Target for $2.  They turned out to be Colleen’s favorite, too!  The total cost is $35 and this look would easily retail for $100.   This arrangement will take you around 30 minutes to assemble.

Picture Perfect Centerpiece
For this look, I used two glass candle holders from Target, two miniature picture frames at $1.50 each and a large frame I found at a garage sale.

Picture Perfect Centerpiece

My tip is to be adventurous and use unexpected items as centerpiece containers.  Also, be resourceful and use greenery that grows in your yard, to save even more money.  I used miniature ivy from my garden.  Total cost of all materials was $40 and this centerpiece would retail for $150.  To save even more money, you can use just one arrangement and it still looks beautiful.  This makes an elegant arrangement for a dinner party or a wedding reception and would take about 30 minutes to assemble.


Signature Drinks
A full service bar is expensive.  My tip for saving money on the bar bill is to use signature drinks in lieu of a full bar.  You can tie your whole look together by selecting a drink in a color that coordinates with your centerpieces.  Serving a signature drink makes it easier to entertain at home – you don’t need to stock a full bar and spend time on making different cocktails.  I found all the necessary supplies at BevMo!  The staff there were incredibly helpful, suggesting ways to save money by using less expensive brands that don’t detract from the taste at all.  They are experts on spirits, so don’t be afraid to ask for their help!

The Green Goddess is served in a champagne flute, very elegant.  It’s made with vodka and Mellon liqueur and garnished with a spring of mint.  You can also offer white and red wine to your guests, along with this signature drink.

The Milk and Cookies Martini is the perfect match for the centerpiece that uses old-fashioned milk bottles.  It’s made with rum and cream and garnished with a chocolate chip cookie and shaved chocolate.

For The Burgundy Blast, I used a dry sparkling wine and Crème de Cassis, which gives this cocktail such a wonderful color and taste.  And it coordinates well with the burgundy flowers.  You can garnish this glass with raspberry sugar.  Here you go, a picture perfect drink!

Tips for the DIY bride
I’ve created an exciting cost-effective program that offers brides the advantages of having a wedding planner without the cost of a full service planner.  It includes all the tools and resources that a bride needs, plus access to a professional planner, 24/7 through a wedding planning hotline.  There are other helpful resources for the DIY bride – and  These web sites offer great ideas and resources for DIY projects.

Coming soon – signature drink recipes!


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