You don’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain your friends and family at home. The next time you want to hose an event, follow these eight tips to keep the expense as low as possible. You’ll have a great time without draining your bank account.

Don’t Invite Too Many People

The more people you invite to a party, the more money you will spend on refreshments. Keep your guest list short by deciding how many people you want to invite. Once you choose a number, don’t let yourself go over it.

As an added benefit, small, intimate events give people more opportunities to talk to each other. When you invite too many people, your guests won’t have time for good conversation.

Keep Decorations to a Minimum

Adding a few decorations can make your home feel more festive when you entertain. Unfortunately, it’s easy to go overboard.

Instead of decking out your home with streamers, balloons, candles, and other decorations, choose a couple of high-value options that will draw attention to themselves. Few things work better than a vase of fresh cut flowers.

Choose Inexpensive Food That You Can Make Ahead of Time

If you plan to serve dinner to your guests, you should choose some inexpensive options that you can prepare ahead of time. That way, you can save money and time.

Affordable options for group dinners include:

* Pasta

* Tacos

* Bar-b-q

* Salad

Host a Potluck

You don’t have to pay for everything that you serve at your gathering. Instead, you can prepare a main dish and ask other people to contribute their own dishes.

You get several advantages from hosting a potluck. In addition to saving money, you give your friends an opportunity to show off their cooking skills. Those who don’t like spending time in the kitchen can always bring drinks or something pre-made from the grocery store.

Turn the Heat Down

During cool months, turn your heat down so you will use less gas or electricity. Once your guests arrive, their bodies will generate plenty of heat to keep everyone comfortable. You might even find yourself cracking a window to let in a cool breeze.

During warmer months, try to host gatherings outdoors during the evening.

Make Plenty of Ice Before the Event

Buying a bag of ice can easily cost $5. Why spend that money when you can make ice at home for practically nothing?

You will need to plan ahead to avoid buying ice. Put some ice in a bag each day until you have enough for your party.

Don’t Use Disposable Plates and Utensils

Disposable plates and utensils make it easy to clean up after your event. Considering that you already own plates, forks, and spoons, though, it doesn’t make financial sense to purchase disposable versions. You’re basically throwing money away when you buy disposable items.

Ask Your Guests to Bring Drinks

Even if you plan to provide refreshments for your party, you want to avoid paying for alcohol. Wine, beer, and liquor cost a lot of money compared to other beverages.

When guests ask what they can bring, tell them to bring a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer. A decent bottle of wine usually costs at least $10, so you can easily save $50 by asking your guests to bring their own booze.

Having people over to your home is a great way to reconnect with friends without spending money at a restaurant. As long as you make some frugal choices, you can save quite a bit of cash while hosting an event.