Mark Roemer image of a backyard birthday party with balloons, streamers, and a beautiful party table

Parties That You Can Throw for Under $40

Before we get into the meat of this blog, I, Mark Roemer, would like to remind you that we are under a stay at home order in much of the world. Having big parties is probably not in your best interest. However, small gatherings are entirely acceptable. Make sure to check with the local laws to make sure you are not breaking the law.

That being said, I am going to share with you many ways that you can have a party on the cheap. Especially during these trying times, people are not exactly rolling in money. It can cost a lot of cash to throw a party. It is best if you were to split the cost. Not only will this remove the burden from one person, but it will also allow you to have more frequent parties in the long run. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the parties that you can throw for under $40.

Potluck Party

This once was an excellent way for people to get together. However, times have changed, and it seems more mainstream to have the host pay for everything. The problem is cash strapped individuals are unable to throw parties for their friends. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck – especially during this pandemic. Potluck parties are the answer to your problems. Not only can you spread the party’s cost out between people, but you can also have more parties on top of it.

My suggestion when it comes to potluck parties is to do one of two things. The first idea is that you can have everyone bring hors d’ oeuvres. These little treats can easily be placed on a plate and carried around. Doing so will give your guest the ability to mingle with everyone. The second suggestion is to have the host buy and serve the main dish and the guests to bring the sides and drinks. You can talk ahead of time and see who is bringing what. It wouldn’t be much of a party if you had one main dish and a bunch of chips. While that might be nice in the case of a cookout, guests are generally interested in having more than just chips on the side.

Netflix Party

Some people like to hire live entertainment when they throw a party. That can be very costly. If you skip the entertainment for a free (or almost free) service, you will drastically enhance your party budget. Since we are unable to attend movie theatres presently, going out for a movie is out of the question. Instead, you can stay at home and enjoy some older videos. You don’t always have to be the first one to watch a movie.

For these parties, I suggest having only snacks. Call up your friends and have them bring their favorite snacks. It could be anything from hors d’ oeuvres to chips or gummy worms to popcorn. There is not much that you can’t do with this setup. The only thing I would suggest is to have people bring snacks that are not going to mess up your couches, rugs, or any other fabric-based surfaces you happen to have. Either way, sitting back and relaxing over a few movies can be a great way to spend a few hours with friends.

On a final note, I suggest you watch a movie (or movies) that everyone is familiar with. That way, you can talk and have a good time and not worry about missing an important plot point. I would say that you should pause the movie when people speak, but that can get annoying and break up the immersion into the film.

Low-Key Birthday Party

Each time a person celebrates another year of life is, no doubt, a special one. However, you can easily spend an entire paycheck or two on the celebration. You could spend more than your mortgage payment in the blink of an eye if you are not careful.

A simple way to cut down on the cost of a birthday party is to by in bulk. Nearly every town in America has a party supply store. Granted, you will come home with half a gross of cups, plates, and plastic cutlery, but you will have saved money in the long run. Besides, these things are not perishable. You can use them year after year. Only the most astute among your friends and family will notice you are using the same stuff. The key is to get generic birthday supplies. Getting specialized birthday decorations will mean that you cannot reuse them again next year.

As for the food, I suggest a similar layout as you had for either of the two above parties. Simplicity is your friend, nearly 100% of the time. If that isn’t the kind of party you want, you could always opt for a pasta bar. All you will need to do is make some pasta ahead of time. Then have a couple of jars of various sauces for your guests to use. While they may be store-bought sauces, some of them taste very good.

A Cocktail Party

I realized that I did say I was going to keep this under $40. I hope to fulfill that promise with this suggestion as well. What you are going to want to do is take a look at a drink mixing site or even Pinterest and find a drink. Inform your guest that you will be providing that evening’s libations, and they are responsible for bringing the nibbles. Chips, nuts, popcorn, and other similar treats would be completely acceptable. Anything that will help soak up the alcohol is highly recommended.

As a side note, inform your guests you will be providing the signature drink, but if they want something else, they are more than welcome to bring something of their own. Not all drinks are for everyone.


I, Mark Roemer, hope that you have found this to be helpful. Remember to stay safe and keep the parties (as well as guests) to a minimum. There is no reason to risk being exposed to the virus to meet up with some friends.