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How to Party Without Asking Your Guests for Too Much

"It doesn't need to appear as though the party is your party," Kelly says. By entrusting another co-worker with the food and drink "you're making it clear that this is a work function and everyone is expected to participate and contribute."

Once you've decided the type of party you're having and narrowed down the guest list to something you can afford, says Ricky Eisen, founder and president of New York City-based catering company Between the Bread, you've got to inform your guests what they're in for.

"No matter what, your guests must be informed of your event plan ahead of time," she says, and if they find out you're asking for items they don't feel comfortable bringing, "they need to have the opportunity to decline your invitation. Also, There is nothing more embarrassing than going to a party empty-handed when you are expected to bring something."

If your guests are offended by your request to contribute to the party, you can suggest that they bring whatever they can, and you as the host will have to be prepared to compensate for that, she says, adding, "Never host a party where there is not enough food or beverage provided for normal consumption."

"The key here is to know your guests, and know what is reasonable to ask of them," Eisen says. "Each guest should only be asked to bring one item at most, and as the host you should be well prepared to provide the balance of the items that are needed to complete a meal or event."

Because party budgets, theme and kind of food served varies, Eisen says there is no rule of thumb when it comes to the value of the items that can be requested. The host should leave it to the guest to bring an item of their choosing, though.

"It is OK to ask for a category as in, 'bring dessert,' 'bring wine,' 'bring cheese,' etc., but not request a specific item," she says.

For hosts really concerned about party budget, Eisen says it's important not to overextend yourself. Making your own dishes and drinks rather than hiring a caterer is a great way to save, as is having a limited menu.

"Dial down the budget. Your friends want to see you -- they don't want to see you bankrupt," Masini says.
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