Here’s the dilemma: it’s your birthday or the last day of exams or maybe just a regular Thursday night and you want to throw a party to celebrate. But your wallet still hasn’t recovered from last week’s festivities or that second-hand textbook you begrudgingly bought a couple of days ago. What do you do? It’s no secret that the life of a student costs more than what our parents provide and we are never more aware of this than when we want to have a bit of fun. Luckily, there are ways to throw memorable parties on even the scantiest of budgets and Perdeby has compiled a few tips to show you how.

(Don’t) come as you are

Regular clothing is boring. It’s what we attend lectures and go to the bank in. The first step to making sure that your party is a success is convincing people to arrive dressed in foolish costumes. Choosing a theme for your party is something of an art: your theme should be crazy enough to excite your guests, but not so crazy that it scares them into never attending your parties again.

ABC (“Anything But Clothes”) parties are a popular choice. As the name suggests, any sort of clothing is banned – guests are expected to arrive dressed in random everyday items like garbage bags and shower curtains and meat (if Lady Gaga is your thing). There are also “Snow Pants or No Pants” parties, where everyone is basically doomed to come wearing no pants, because no self-respecting student owns snow pants. Toga parties can be fun, but chances are you attended one a month ago and they get boring very fast. Coming up with your very own original theme is also exciting and usually more entertaining, but don’t go for anything too far out there. For example, throwing a Nazi party will probably cost you a few friends.

Blame it on the alcohol

Let’s face it, no one is going to leave their place and come to yours to discuss the rising cost of petrol over a cup of tea. A party implies alcohol. If you’ve been smart, you’ve probably already advised them to bring their own poison – this costs you nothing and everyone gets to drink what they like. Very often, however, you might have to provide the liquor but that doesn’t have to bankrupt you.

Punch is your solution. It’s cheap, plentiful and effective. Be sure about the exact number of people you are expecting – that way you can be sure to make enough punch for it to get sufficiently debaucherous. Punch is easy to make and recipes are everywhere, from basic iced tea punch (vodka, iced tea and energy drink) to more ambitious and deadlier varieties like the Three Musketeers punch (vodka, gin, cane and ginger beer) and the Mexican Mimosa punch (champagne, tequila and orange juice).

In order to properly trick your guests into unexpected drunken stupors, the punch has to be delicious and can’t taste anything like alcohol. Also, naming your punch something scary like Syphilis Juice or Satan’s Spit helps – do not underestimate the power of the placebo effect.

Let the games begin

As a student, some of the best parties you will ever attend are the ones where you are forced to drink because you suck at a game. Drinking games are the lifeblood of great memories and demonic hangovers. Most of them cost nothing, so in order to liven up your party on a budget, use them to your advantage.

You can start by banning a common word like “cell phone” or “drink” for the whole night. Whoever uses the word takes a shot of tequila. Add more words as the night progresses. Later on, play more games like drunk 30 Seconds (which gets complicated because of the banned common words), Kings (agree on the rules before the game starts) and Thumper (like Simon Says, but with alcoholic punishment and gang signs – seriously). Games that require skill and physical dexterity like Beer Pong and Flip Cup are also highly entertaining.

Eating is (not always) cheating

You’ll have to feed your guests if you expect your party to last longer than two hours. Braais are the obvious choice for any house party because they encourage social interaction and who can say no to farmstyle boerewors? But there are other ways to keep your friends nourished that won’t hurt your wallet.

One of the best ways to cater for your guests is to let them do it themselves, or rather to do it together as part of the party. Plan the meal ahead of time and then encourage them to donate a few ingredients (you should already have the basics in your fridge). When they arrive at the party, start cooking together. This works best for small parties and is a great way to compare cooking tips and recipes as part of the party. Another cheap option is platters. They’re available at most supermarkets and some restaurants and are more affordable than one might think. If all else fails, order in – Mr Delivery is open until 23:00 all week long.

The most important of all these tips is to remember that although it’s your job to host the party, it’s also your job to enjoy the party. Try to prepare everything as best you can before your guests arrive so that you’re free to mingle when they do. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures – provided that the night has been properly rowdy, they’ll keep it alive in Facebook comments long after the party’s over.

Photo: Marius Veldhuyzen van Zanten

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