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Fiesta like you mean it for less than $200

You don’t need to spend money like the rich and famous to host a party that will leave everyone impressed. I wouldn’t even consider $200 a “tight” budget quite frankly, but rather a respectable, common sense budget for anyone willing to do some DIY.

First things first, get the word out. Instead of printing out and mailing invites (which would have cost anywhere from $15-35) I created a FaceBook event page and whipped up this fun cover photo:

FaceBook invite page, cover photo
Prioritize what’s important in order to make your party feel like you want it to. For this Fiesta Birthday party, bold & bright colors in the form of decorations and details made the theme come alive. Because I DIYed the majority of the decorations, they cost just a fraction of my overall budge: I spent about $50. The centerpieces consisted of old glass jars I‘ve been saving (spice jars, Mexican Coke bottles, ethnic food jars, etc.) which I made these tissue paper flowers for. The Hanging Fans I had purchased several years ago for my mom’s surprise 50th Birthday Fiesta but you can also make them from scrapbook paper and/or tissue paper quite easily. And I tweaked these food labels to suit my needs.


I saved glass spice jars and Mexican Coke glass bottles then, using tissue paper, made the “flowers”
Hanging Fans can be made from scrapbook and tissue paper
Not to brag, but I’m well known for my cooking and baking skills, so I allotted the majority of my budget to groceries, approximately $150. As an appetizer I served this delicious and fresh 7 Layer Dip. The taco bar included Pulled Pork Carnitas, Shredded Barbacoa Beef, Taco Ground Turkey, Cilantro Lime Rice and Spicy Black Beans. Guests could choose from soft corn, hard corn or tostadas as their vessel. And let’s not forget the plethora of toppings in brightly colored serving bowls: we had the basics like shredded lettuce, homemade salsa, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, shredded cheese and for the more adventurous there was guacamole, cilantro, red cabbage, cotija cheese and lime wedges.

Food labels, which I found on Pinterest, then edited to suit my needs
Tasty toppings, plates and food baskets

It helped that I had previously purchased some colorful food baskets (see above) for our Backyard BBQ Cookout Birthday Party earlier in the summer of 2014. For this party, I used them to display the taco shells and tostadas. The tableware I purchased for this Fiesta included the chevron table cover, chili pepper plates and yellow forks, which I displayed in a blue cup for yet another punch of color. Also, I’ve had a sombrero, along with (no joke) a Fiesta Party Mix CD, since my college days that I found at Dollar Tree so there was no expense there.


Chevron table cover, Hanging Fans and the centerpieces
Of course, what’s a Fiesta without some drinks and dessert? I whipped up a batch of Classic Margaritas and Mexican Fruit Sangria. And for dessert, a healthier and easier-for-a-crowd version of “Fried” Ice Cream, served in truffle form with Homemade Chocolate Sauce.

Margaritas (no Sweet & Sour mix here!) and Sangria
All of this food fed an anticipated crowd of 12-18 people with plenty of leftovers to send home with guests and eat for lunch the next few days.  


Now I bet you’re asking yourself How on earth did you make all of this food and decorate without stressing out?” My trusty CrockPot and some planning ahead of time my fiesta friends, that’s how! The party was Friday evening, 6:30pm. So here’s my timeline, what I did and when in order to have a stress free set-up when I got home from work on Friday.
WEDNESDAY:
7:30am: cook Pork Carnitas in CrockPot all day
7:30pm: remove pork from CrockPot and store in refrigerator then,
       cook Barbacoa Beef in CrockPot all night
       cook Taco Ground Turkey, store in fridge
8:30pm: make simple syrup and squeeze lime juice for Margaritas, store in fridge
8:45pm: make Cilantro Lime Rice
       while rice cooks, make Spicy Black Beans
       when both rice and beans are done, store in separate containers in fridge


THURSDAY:
7:30pm: begin making “Fried” Ice Cream Truffles by baking coating
       while coating bakes, make 7 Layer Dip, refrigerate
       finish Ice Cream Truffles, put in freezer
8:30pm: make Chocolate Sauce, put in refrigerator
8:45pm: cut-up/prep all taco toppings and store in ziplock bags
9:15pm: set out all food serving bowls/containers where you want them
9:30pm: dust, vacuum, clean guest bathroom


FRIDAY, day of party:
5:30pm: warm up meats, rice and beans
       mix up Margaritas and Sangria
6:00pm: start bonfire
6:20pm: set out taco toppings
6:30pm: as guests arrive set out 7 Layer Dip
6:35pm: pour yourself a margarita and put on that sombrero… Oley!

Turkey on tostada with all the toppings. ¡Muy delicioso!

A happy accident I discovered: I put all the containers that I stored everything in the previous two days in the clean/empty dishwasher. Once the party was done, the last margarita drank and the bonfire was responsibly extinguished, we just pulled the containers out of the dishwasher and stored the leftovers in them. How easy was that?!


By skipping the pricey extras and getting creative with your food and decor, you can throw an inexpensive party that includes everything a great party should: time with friends, good food and delicious drinks!

And don’t forget, Poppie Studios is always here to help you with your event planning needs. From invitations to food labels, FaceBook graphics (including cover photos and timelime flyers), as well as decorating and photography. This is what I love to do, so let me help you love it too!

Oley! Handsome‘s always a willing model

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