With the end of winter just around the corner, so comes the inevitable Party Season™: the time of year when seemingly every friend, relative, workmate, and causal acquaintance is reaching a milestone age, having a baby, getting hitched, or finding some other excuse to take over your weekend with an endless stream of canapés and bubbly.

And while they’re often great affairs in their own right, often they come with a tonne of hidden costs. Dresses, travel, makeup, food, drinks, presents, and so much more can quickly turn a potentially fun event into a disaster for your bank balance. Thankfully, we’ve put our heads together to come up with some quick ways to get through the season without a tonne of debt in the end.

CONSIDER A DRESS HIRE

Want to have the most fire look of the day / evening / night, but don’t want to pay the exuberant price tags to achieve it? There’s a tonne of websites that offer dress hire within Australia, including places like Her Wardrobe and Rent A Dress. Likewise, checking buy / sell / trade groups on Facebook, or checking Gumtree also works. You’ll never know who shares your size, and is wanting to offload a pretty piece that they only wore for their One Big Thing. That way, you can look amazing AF without making your wallet cry in despair.

LOOK AT WAYS TO CUT YOUR PRESENT COSTS DOWN

If you’ve ever heard “you have to pay for your plate” or “wedding gifts have to be at least $100” when it comes to fancy parties, I’m here to tell you that advice is bs.

Frankly, people invite you because they like you, not your gift giving powers. So yes, it’s okay to split the cost of something with some mutual friends, or get something small, or even make something (if you’re the crafty type). Even pre-buying gifts in bulk is okay, to a degree. I have a friend who, when their local Borders closed down, went to town on their sales; they bought every type of book imaginable and all of their mates, myself included, received a different book that year. And, to be honest, it was still really nice and thoughtful every time.

And if you truly can’t afford something at this very moment, that is fine too. Give a nice card with a loving message, they’ll still love you in the end. I promise.

ONLY PARTIALLY ATTEND

This only really counts if you’ve been invited to a multi-part, or even a muti-day event. But if they’ve split things up and money’s tight, ask if you can go for one part (or a couple of parts) of their bigger shindig. For example, if they have a dinner planned, followed by a pub crawl, skipping the pub crawl will ensure you a have a tad more control over the costs. After all, it’s a couple of courses of dinner vs. potentially hours worth of drinks and nibbles throughout the night.

DON’T DRINK (OR MODERATE YOUR DRINKS)

As alluded to above, having a dry party is an easy way to cut your costs down by a lot. Yes, it may make you the life of the party, or make you a better dancer, or make you more talkative. We’ve heard it all. But drinks are expensive. Unless your host is covering the costs, you probably won’t want to blow all your dough on a fancy cocktails or craft beers during the event. Because the next thing you know you’re out of pocket $150 and you can’t remember a thing. Fun!

MILK THE EVENT FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

Obviously the etiquette and optics around this change depending on which event you’re attending and how formal it is. But seriously, the monogrammed cupcakes, goodie bags, and vegan hors d’oeuvres are there to be enjoyed, not stared at from a distance. If anything, you are doing the host a favour by getting rid of surplus stuff. As both a former guest, host, and future host of a wedding, I say this with all sincerity: Please take as much free stuff as possible.

KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Look, just because it’s that someone’s birthday or baby shower or whatever, it doesn’t mean you need to get your hair and make up professionally done every time. In fact, most parties don’t need the effort you believe they need. It’s one thing to try and look your best. It’s another to go completely overboard and then end up overdressed for the occasion.

IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO

If they’ve invited you to go to a huge destination wedding, or a big birthday party in a regional winery, and you’re not in the financial place to go, it’s totally okay to give a cordial, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Likewise, if you are worried about how much your own out-of-pocket costs will be for something local, talk to the host about your options. Any good friend will be more than understanding. As mentioned before, they invited you because they like you being a part of their lives, not because they want you to go into financial hell on their behalf.

At the end of the day, just try and have a good time. Money should be the least of your worries.

The real worry is whether the guy or gal at the other table is flirting with you. You know, that one.

*The above article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent financial advice before making any financial decisions.


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