Party Pointer: Money Saving Tips for Party Drinks

You are planning a large party for which you have a budget, and you really want to stay within that budget so you can live to party again. Last week, we talked about how to think through your party plans before you even head to the store to shop. We talked about what kind of party you are having, what kind of beverages–non-alcoholic, beer, wine or liquor–you might serve and different options you might use to save money. Here are more money saving tops for party drinks:

Estimate the amount of alcohol you need for the number of guests you expect before you shop. You can find drink calculators on the Internet that help you figure out how much you can expect your guests to consume. These can calculate how many bottles you need based on the number of guests, their preferences, and your beverage offerings. Click here to see one from Better Homes and Gardens–bhg.com.

Find out if you can bring your own beverages if you are renting a venue for your party or wedding,. You will save money if you buy your own less expensive selections, instead of using theirs which will cost more. While a few venues will pour your beverages for free, most will charge a per-bottle corkage fee, so check in advance to ensure those fees don’t soak up the savings in your drink budget. If you can’t negotiate the corkage fee out of your contract entirely, at least discuss lowering it.

Research less expensive wines on the Internet before you go shopping. There are many helpful wine websites to consult.

Check out local wineries and microbreweries for their special discounts and bulk buys. Having local vintages and brews gives a classy ambience to your bar.

Build a relationship with a local beer and/or wine shop in order to keep abreast of special discounts and to learn more about different beers and wines. The staff of these businesses love to educate their customers. The more you learn, the more often you will able to select the best wines for the least costs.

Pour your less expensive wines in glass carafes for pouring, and your guests will not see the labels if you have a beverage bar.

Go with mid-range brands instead of top-range ones when choosing your liquors, for a savings of up to 30%. Your guests usually can’t tell the difference in mixed drinks..

Ask your beverage retailer if you can return unopened bottles. Even if you can’t return them, most unopened bottles will keep well long after the party, so you don’t need to be concerned about waste.

Buy in bulk if you are having a large party. Check the prices for beer, wine and spirits at your local warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s. Wineries also usually offer a discount for buying multiple bottles. If you entertain often, you may want to shop in quantity to get discounts on large purchases

Don’t offer drinks or shots that use a number of liquors—these all raise your bar tab.

Buy your mixers like sodas and juices when they are on sale, or buy the store brands. Brand-name sodas are on sale so often, that you should be able to get them as cheaply as the store brands.

Buy your fruit garnishes when they are on sale at your local grocery or at your local warehouse store. Buy bags of lemons, limes and oranges. Try to use fruits that are in season and therefore less expensive. Cut thin slices or wedges to make the fruit go further.

Buy inexpensive frozen punch rings for your non-alcoholic or alcoholic punches, or make your own rings by freezing juice mixtures in a ring mold. Make several over which you will pour sparkling soda or wine.

Buy large tubs of inexpensive ice cream if you are planning an ice cream punch or ice cream floats.

Non-alcoholic dessert drinks can save you money. Try chocolate or coffee floats with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings, served in sugar-rimmed glasses, instead of a costly international coffee bar with liquor-infused drinks. You might also treat guests to a rich, dark coffee brew with flavored syrups.

Grind your coffee very fine on the espresso grind, and it will go much further. Only use half your normal amount of scoops to get the same or even darker pot of coffee. You may need to use a double filter in your drip coffee maker so no grounds get through.

Stick with an all-purpose glass in setting up your bar. Pick one style of glass that works for all the beverages you are offering. This saves you rental money and gives you a very clean look for your bar set-up.

Make your own ice. Don’t forget to include the cost of ice in your party budget. When planning your party, you’ll need this much ice: 6 guests = 10 pounds; 12 guests = 24 pounds; 25 guests = 50 pounds; and 50 guests = 100 pounds. If you have a chest freezer, you could make your own ice over a week or two’s time and keep it in large zip-lock freezer bags.

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