Author Topic: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)  (Read 8262 times)

OSUBearCub

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Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« on: March 03, 2015, 10:09:33 AM »
I'm turning 35 in two months.  Previous birthdays have involved the obligatory birthday dinner nightmare.  (Ten years of these, one for each of my group of friends.  They're tedious.)  I feel it's time to step up the birthday game and throw my own get-together.  I'm willing to spend the money on a party because I value experiences, entertaining, and I get the feeling this will be an excellent way to meet new people outside of a bar setting.

Objectives:
Cocktail party with a budget under $100 for food (BYOB en lieu of gifts)
Meet new people - hence more informal cocktail party where guests can bring a guest
Boot everyone out by 11pm and on to their normal Saturday night activities

Questions:
What are your go-to, budget-friendly nibbles for entertaining?
If you've thrown a cocktail party, what is the sweet spot for number of guests?

MsPeacock

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2015, 10:22:20 AM »
I think the number of guests depends on the available space and how well people know each other. I throw occasional "cocktails and chaos" parties where I invite my neighbors and their kids, generally on short notice, to come over. We banish the kids to the basement or outside. I've had anywhere from 30-100 people show-up (my house is 1200 well laid out sq ft plus a finished basement). This is always potluck and BYOB - with me pitching in some food and drink as well. I usually throw together a party w/ less than 24 hours notice (e.g. snow day - everyone come over!!!).

Food - cheap and plentiful - I like to make nachos w/ refried beans that I cook in the slow cooker. I just have beans (maybe 1 1/2 pounds), lettuce, salsa, cheese, other toppings as you desire (e.g. sliced olives, hot sauce). Or gyoza from the Korean grocery (the frozen kind that come in bags of 30 or so) or frozen samosas from the Indian grocery. Both are easy, quick, inexpensive, and require little effort.

Alcohol - box wine transformed into Sangria.

socaso

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2015, 12:02:39 PM »
I love to throw parties and I often do all my food for well less than $50, especially if I'm only doing appetizers. Bruchetta is a yummy and cheap thing to make. Google for variations. A loaf of French bread usually only costs me $2 and if you don't get too fancy with the toppings you can probably make a couple of platefuls for $5. I like to slice the bread a bit on the thin side because I don't like the bread to overwhelm the toppings. I almost always do a cheese plate of some sort. Trader Joe's has great cheeses at very reasonable prices and I usually get 3 types of cheese and a box of crackers for about $12. One thing that is easy and cheap are cocktail meatballs served with toothpicks. I did some great Asian style ones with ground turkey once. Since you do them as minis they go a long way. People love dips of any sort so I almost always do some kind of dip that I can serve with veggies like carrots and celery.

RexualChocolate

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2015, 12:51:16 PM »
I do this every year. Unsolicited etiquette advice- don't frame it as a birthday party if you're throwing it yourself. Just have a get together and make no comment about anything 'in lieu of gifts.' People who know its near your birthday may bring you something anyway, just don't mention it.

If you want people to loosen up and mingle, get liquor. Simple drinks are best, neat or liquor + one mixer. Have a wide gamut to make sure everyone can get what they want. Bourbon(makers or above) and vodka(buy aristocrat and put it in a grey goose bottle, no one can tell the difference IMO) covers most everyone here in the South.

Beer and wine for the people who don't like liquor. Light, salty food to encourage consumption!

I usually spend ~5-8 a person with tons of leftovers.


OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2015, 01:25:37 PM »
I do this every year. Unsolicited etiquette advice- don't frame it as a birthday party if you're throwing it yourself. Just have a get together and make no comment about anything 'in lieu of gifts.' People who know its near your birthday may bring you something anyway, just don't mention it.

If you want people to loosen up and mingle, get liquor. Simple drinks are best, neat or liquor + one mixer. Have a wide gamut to make sure everyone can get what they want. Bourbon(makers or above) and vodka(buy aristocrat and put it in a grey goose bottle, no one can tell the difference IMO) covers most everyone here in the South.

Beer and wine for the people who don't like liquor. Light, salty food to encourage consumption!

I usually spend ~5-8 a person with tons of leftovers.

Ok, so if I'm rolling the liquor into the budget, I'm going to hit up the Costco and limit to bourbon and vodka only (Beam and costco brand vodka, 1.75liter big boys - my personal branding isn't all that fancy lol).  Orange and cranberry for juice mixers and soda and tonic for non-juice mixers.  That's going to eat an easy $70 from the budget.  What do you think about only offering a good ginger ale as the fizzy?  Conversely, thoughts on only offering club soda?

Retired To Win

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2015, 01:25:59 PM »
Celery and carrot cut to serve as dipping sticks. A pound of carrots is less than 80 cents, and a 3-lb head of celery will run less than $2.  Either makes A LOT of dipping/munching sticks.

Then add the frugal dipping of your choice.

Healthy, too.  None of those deep-fried, transfat ladden chips.

Have fun.

resy

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2015, 01:38:14 PM »
Nothing much to add, just following :)
Anyone mind sharing simple drink recipes?(like that sangria!)

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2015, 01:40:50 PM »
Update: the local peanut gallery has weighed-in and we have a theme.  Party Like it's 1980.  All food will be popular offerings from cocktail parties of my birth year (though not explicitly stated as such, RexualChocolate).  Guest list will be in the range of 25.

Thanks Retired to Win on the suggestion about veggies, it helped me reign in the normal 4-6 options I normally include with the veggie tray.  We're going with carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and black olives that I already have in the pantry. 

Working ideas: deviled eggs, crock pot BBQ meatballs, tobasco/butter popcorn, veggie tray, and spinach dip in pumpernickel bread bowl.

lakemom

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2015, 03:16:04 PM »
Add a popcorn bar.  A variety of both salty and sweet flavors of popcorn in big bowls.  Cheap, easy and do it ahead (early the afternoon of the party).  You can just google around for various recipes and for the most part, unless going for the exotic, all ingredients will be in your pantry.  Have small bowls for serving and encourage guests to try them all and/or create their favorite mix.

RunHappy

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2015, 05:02:12 PM »
Go for it!  I've hosted my own birthday party a couple of times.  What I love about it, is I never have to worry about paying for a taxi home if I had too much to drink.

One food idea that was fairly inexpensive but always impressed was chocolate dipped strawberries.  It was easy to buy a couple things of strawberries and some chocolate melts.  You can melt the chocolate in the microwave and dip your own strawberries. 

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2015, 05:08:50 PM »
If "OSU" in your nick refers to "The Ohio State University," you are hereby authorized to blow every cent you have -- including from both Qualified and non-Qualified accounts -- on entertainment because, if MMM'ers can agree on nothing else, we can all agree that the Buckeyes are the best damn University/athletic endeavor that Mankind has ever known.

If, by chance, "OSU" refers to another institution of higher education (say, for example, "Odwalla Southside University," please ignore this comment.

GardenFun

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2015, 05:09:42 PM »
Thanks Retired to Win on the suggestion about veggies, it helped me reign in the normal 4-6 options I normally include with the veggie tray.  We're going with carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and black olives that I already have in the pantry. 

Working ideas: deviled eggs, crock pot BBQ meatballs, tobasco/butter popcorn, veggie tray, and spinach dip in pumpernickel bread bowl.

^This is literally my go-to list for a party.  Another easy one is homemade beer bread with garlic dip.  Google both recipes - can make both of them together for roughly $3. 

Another good one is a taco dip.  Either a cold one (cream cheese base) or a warm one (rotel, cheese and ground beef or sausage). 

If you are looking to make any desserts, any cookie bars work well.  Brownies always gets eaten.  :-)

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2015, 08:24:50 AM »
If "OSU" in your nick refers to "The Ohio State University," you are hereby authorized to blow every cent you have -- including from both Qualified and non-Qualified accounts -- on entertainment because, if MMM'ers can agree on nothing else, we can all agree that the Buckeyes are the best damn University/athletic endeavor that Mankind has ever known.

If, by chance, "OSU" refers to another institution of higher education (say, for example, "Odwalla Southside University," please ignore this comment.

Yep, I'm a Buckeye. I just want to throw out there that we're also a world-class research institution, leading the way in finding a cure for about a dozen cancers.  Also, Ohio State alumni include Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Olympic Games Gold Medalists, and Medal of Honor recipients.  In 2010 and 2014 Ohio State alumni were present on all 7 continents - including Antarctica - simultaneously.  GO BUCKS!

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2015, 08:26:17 AM »
Thanks Retired to Win on the suggestion about veggies, it helped me reign in the normal 4-6 options I normally include with the veggie tray.  We're going with carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and black olives that I already have in the pantry. 

Working ideas: deviled eggs, crock pot BBQ meatballs, tobasco/butter popcorn, veggie tray, and spinach dip in pumpernickel bread bowl.

^This is literally my go-to list for a party.  Another easy one is homemade beer bread with garlic dip.  Google both recipes - can make both of them together for roughly $3. 

Another good one is a taco dip.  Either a cold one (cream cheese base) or a warm one (rotel, cheese and ground beef or sausage). 

If you are looking to make any desserts, any cookie bars work well.  Brownies always gets eaten.  :-)

If you don't mind my asking, what's your typical number of guests and budget for this menu?

YTProphet

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2015, 10:11:22 AM »
If "OSU" in your nick refers to "The Ohio State University," you are hereby authorized to blow every cent you have -- including from both Qualified and non-Qualified accounts -- on entertainment because, if MMM'ers can agree on nothing else, we can all agree that the Buckeyes are the best damn University/athletic endeavor that Mankind has ever known.

If, by chance, "OSU" refers to another institution of higher education (say, for example, "Odwalla Southside University," please ignore this comment.

Yep, I'm a Buckeye. I just want to throw out there that we're also a world-class research institution, leading the way in finding a cure for about a dozen cancers.  Also, Ohio State alumni include Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Olympic Games Gold Medalists, and Medal of Honor recipients.  In 2010 and 2014 Ohio State alumni were present on all 7 continents - including Antarctica - simultaneously.  GO BUCKS!

Second only to the University of Michigan, of course, which also has multiple Nobel/Pulitzer winners and Olympic medalists, in addition to a United States President.

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2015, 10:35:41 AM »
If "OSU" in your nick refers to "The Ohio State University," you are hereby authorized to blow every cent you have -- including from both Qualified and non-Qualified accounts -- on entertainment because, if MMM'ers can agree on nothing else, we can all agree that the Buckeyes are the best damn University/athletic endeavor that Mankind has ever known.

If, by chance, "OSU" refers to another institution of higher education (say, for example, "Odwalla Southside University," please ignore this comment.

Yep, I'm a Buckeye. I just want to throw out there that we're also a world-class research institution, leading the way in finding a cure for about a dozen cancers.  Also, Ohio State alumni include Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Olympic Games Gold Medalists, and Medal of Honor recipients.  In 2010 and 2014 Ohio State alumni were present on all 7 continents - including Antarctica - simultaneously.  GO BUCKS!

Second only to the University of Michigan, of course, which also has multiple Nobel/Pulitzer winners and Olympic medalists, in addition to a United States President.

There's always one of you lurking around in the shadows, isn't there? (Just kidding!)

4alpacas

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2015, 11:07:27 AM »
Whenever I host a party, I make a lot of comfort food.  Quesadillas (http://www.budgetbytes.com/2012/02/hearty-black-bean-quesadillas/)are always popular.  I made soft pretzels for our last party, and they were a huge hit http://altonbrown.com/homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe/
I also made sriracha chicken strips, and everyone raved about them.  http://www.budgetbytes.com/2010/04/sriracha-chicken-strips/  My husband is still asking me to make them again. 

Chocolate covered strawberries sound like an amazing idea!  I'm going to do that for our next party.


GardenFun

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2015, 03:59:35 PM »
Thanks Retired to Win on the suggestion about veggies, it helped me reign in the normal 4-6 options I normally include with the veggie tray.  We're going with carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and black olives that I already have in the pantry. 

Working ideas: deviled eggs, crock pot BBQ meatballs, tobasco/butter popcorn, veggie tray, and spinach dip in pumpernickel bread bowl.

^This is literally my go-to list for a party.  Another easy one is homemade beer bread with garlic dip.  Google both recipes - can make both of them together for roughly $3. 

Another good one is a taco dip.  Either a cold one (cream cheese base) or a warm one (rotel, cheese and ground beef or sausage). 

If you are looking to make any desserts, any cookie bars work well.  Brownies always gets eaten.  :-)

If you don't mind my asking, what's your typical number of guests and budget for this menu?

This line-up usually feeds 12-15 adults for $47-50. 

Deviled eggs - $3 for 30 halves - fills a 9x13 tray
Taco Dip -$8 - two bags chips, cream cheese, taco seasoning, toppings as desired (chopped tomatoes, onions, olives, shred cheese)
Veggie Tray - $6 - celery, carrots and cucumbers are cheap.  Fill in with any other veggies on sale.  Pour ranch salad dressing in small bowl vs. purchasing a more expensive tub. 
Spinach Dip - $7 - I buy a container of pre-made dip, then add an extra 10oz block of thawed chopped spinach.  Extends it and improves the taste. 
Beer Bread w/ garlic dip - $3 - homemade bread (no kneading required) and garlic dip
Meatballs - $8 - I usually make them home made using ground pork (cheaper) but if you find a good deal on pre-made, go for it.
Pulled Pork - $10 - two pack of hamburger buns, bottle of BBQ sauce, and a smaller pork shoulder or pork roast.
Brownies - $2 - Baked using the mini-muffin tin option and sprinkle some powder sugar on top to look fancy.

Never made fancy popcorn but that sounds like a great idea. 

G-dog

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2015, 08:03:59 PM »
I can't believe it isn't here yet ---
HUMMUS.

Goes with your veg tray.

Also cowboy caviar (black beans, chopped black olives, garlic, lime juice, cumin - mix together and put on a layer of cream cheese; serve with corn chips or other dippers) - it's fucking addictive.

Go Hawks (can't be sure of the list of awards alumni have won)!
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 08:06:25 PM by G-dog »

G-dog

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2015, 08:05:57 PM »
And -

Happy Birthday!🌟🌟🌟

RexualChocolate

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2015, 06:33:23 AM »
Nothing else to add other than I want to come now. I'd be wearing my Gamecocks gear though....

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2015, 08:10:54 AM »
I think in honor of the school rivalry brewing on this thread, I'll serve Buckeye cookies for desert.  Yeah that's right folks, my school has it's own candy/cookie/confection:

http://www.jif.com/Recipes/Details/392

[mic drop] :-)

G-dog

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2015, 05:12:40 PM »
I think in honor of the school rivalry brewing on this thread, I'll serve Buckeye cookies for desert.  Yeah that's right folks, my school has it's own candy/cookie/confection:

http://www.jif.com/Recipes/Details/392

[mic drop] :-)

I'd say
1. That is a candy, not a cookie
2. Full of fat and processed food just like the team....

Come on, I need some help talking smack here!

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2015, 08:19:19 AM »
I think in honor of the school rivalry brewing on this thread, I'll serve Buckeye cookies for desert.  Yeah that's right folks, my school has it's own candy/cookie/confection:

http://www.jif.com/Recipes/Details/392

[mic drop] :-)

I'd say
1. That is a candy, not a cookie
2. Full of fat and processed food just like the team....

Come on, I need some help talking smack here!

There's a legitimate candy vs. cookie debate that has ruined many a holiday.  Half my aunts say candy, half say cookie.  The struggle is real lol

Also, we're a Big Ten school.  Our athletes eat better than the President.  lol

G-dog

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2015, 09:00:16 AM »
I think in honor of the school rivalry brewing on this thread, I'll serve Buckeye cookies for desert.  Yeah that's right folks, my school has it's own candy/cookie/confection:

http://www.jif.com/Recipes/Details/392

[mic drop] :-)

I'd say
1. That is a candy, not a cookie
2. Full of fat and processed food just like the team....

Come on, I need some help talking smack here!

There's a legitimate candy vs. cookie debate that has ruined many a holiday.  Half my aunts say candy, half say cookie.  The struggle is real lol

Also, we're a Big Ten school.  Our athletes eat better than the President.  lol

Does the debate include whether to use smooth vs. crunchy peanut butter in the recipe?
Go Big Ten! I think many of us can agree on this.

When's the party?

OSUBearCub

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2015, 10:49:07 AM »
I think in honor of the school rivalry brewing on this thread, I'll serve Buckeye cookies for desert.  Yeah that's right folks, my school has it's own candy/cookie/confection:

http://www.jif.com/Recipes/Details/392

[mic drop] :-)

I'd say
1. That is a candy, not a cookie
2. Full of fat and processed food just like the team....

Come on, I need some help talking smack here!

There's a legitimate candy vs. cookie debate that has ruined many a holiday.  Half my aunts say candy, half say cookie.  The struggle is real lol

Also, we're a Big Ten school.  Our athletes eat better than the President.  lol

Does the debate include whether to use smooth vs. crunchy peanut butter in the recipe?
Go Big Ten! I think many of us can agree on this.

When's the party?

Crunchy must not ever be used for buckeyes unless you're making them for someone you *really* dislike.  It ruins the texture worse than walnuts in brownies.

nycstash

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2015, 10:46:45 AM »
This is great. For my birthday this year, I told my partner that the only thing I really wanted was to not spend lots of money on my birthday but just be able to spend time with friends.  This is the email he sent to all our friends:

"In addition to her devotion to [revealing personal details] in the past year [nycstache] has also become a disciple of one Mr. Money Mustache.  (Read about it here, it's no joke: www.mrmoneymustache.com)  This personal perspective shift aims to save money through a combination of budgeting, humiliation, increasing family accountability, lashings, and prayer. 

This means instead of celebrating [nycstache's] birthday this year blowing all of our hard earned cash on an over-priced bar tab, you should all instead just whip up your favorite dish, maybe bring a drink or two, and come on down to [sister in law's nice apartment] and hang out.  Please let me know if you're coming and what food/drinks you can bring.  She's not allergic to anything, but she might smack you in the head for bringing anything with seafood or mayonnaise in it.  She is also afraid of hummus. 

See you all there!"

In my circle, birthdays often involve a really nice night out at a restaurant and then bar and usually people buy birthday person drinks and sometimes chip in for dinner. It always ends up being nice but really expensive. So I feel like not only is this more fun for me, I'm doing my friends a favor by not making them splurge on a night out.  Also, my teenager is volunteering to babysit my younger kid and friends' kids at my mother-in-law's house down the block so friends can get a kid-free night out.  Lots of my friends are awesome cooks and like making creative dishes so they'll have fun with this and we'll eat well. One of my friends loves making cocktails so she's designing a couple of specialty cocktails and will run the bar while others will probably just bring beer and wine. Those who don't even have money to bring food or drink know us well enough to know they are still welcome. A birthday I'm looking forward to and one that I think reflects the essence of Mustachianism - experience over spending.

Have fun with your party - I think it's a great idea! 

Stachetastic

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2015, 12:53:06 PM »
As a fellow Buckeye from circa 1980, I just had to wish you a happy (early) birthday!  Go Bucks!


G-dog

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Re: Throwing myself a party (hold your face punches)
« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2015, 05:43:08 PM »
This is great. For my birthday this year, I told my partner that the only thing I really wanted was to not spend lots of money on my birthday but just be able to spend time with friends.  This is the email he sent to all our friends:

"In addition to her devotion to [revealing personal details] in the past year [nycstache] has also become a disciple of one Mr. Money Mustache.  (Read about it here, it's no joke: www.mrmoneymustache.com)  This personal perspective shift aims to save money through a combination of budgeting, humiliation, increasing family accountability, lashings, and prayer. 

This means instead of celebrating [nycstache's] birthday this year blowing all of our hard earned cash on an over-priced bar tab, you should all instead just whip up your favorite dish, maybe bring a drink or two, and come on down to [sister in law's nice apartment] and hang out.  Please let me know if you're coming and what food/drinks you can bring.  She's not allergic to anything, but she might smack you in the head for bringing anything with seafood or mayonnaise in it.  She is also afraid of hummus. 

See you all there!"

In my circle, birthdays often involve a really nice night out at a restaurant and then bar and usually people buy birthday person drinks and sometimes chip in for dinner. It always ends up being nice but really expensive. So I feel like not only is this more fun for me, I'm doing my friends a favor by not making them splurge on a night out.  Also, my teenager is volunteering to babysit my younger kid and friends' kids at my mother-in-law's house down the block so friends can get a kid-free night out.  Lots of my friends are awesome cooks and like making creative dishes so they'll have fun with this and we'll eat well. One of my friends loves making cocktails so she's designing a couple of specialty cocktails and will run the bar while others will probably just bring beer and wine. Those who don't even have money to bring food or drink know us well enough to know they are still welcome. A birthday I'm looking forward to and one that I think reflects the essence of Mustachianism - experience over spending.

Have fun with your party - I think it's a great idea!

This sounds great, my guess is that the food will be better! Happy birthday.