Post # 1
My new hubby and I will be returning to SF in a few months and I’d like to have a low-key but elegant cocktail party or brunch for all of our friends who weren’t able to travel to the wedding.
What would you do for 40 some odd guests if you only had, let’s say, $300 to spend?
Post # 3
I live in SF and I can’t think of any place off the top of my head that would do it for that cheap. However, if you did something mid-week you may have better luck than trying to do a weekend. I’m having a restaurant reception, and we have to meet a $1500 minimum for a Friday night, but if it was Monday or Tuesday I think it was about a third of that.
Post # 4
Here is what I would do on a small budget:
Call friends who live in condo complexes that have a party room (some of the newer buildings have actually pretty swanky ones) and reserve it or see if there is some City-owned/Municipal venue available. Order a few cheese platters and a bunch of fancy mini-desserts from Whole Foods, Real Foods, etc. Get alcohol from BevMo (ideally during 5 cent sale) and hire servers off Craigslist. If there was any money left, I’d get some candles and flowers (SF Flower Mart).
Nexus is right, most places here have a $500+ minimum for even a weeknight.
Post # 5
Honestly, I would try to have it at a friend’s house – either a party room at a condo complex, or if you know anyone with a proper house (maybe in the East Bay, since everyone I know there seems to have twice as much space) then just in someone’s living room. With $300, I don’t think it makes sense to spend money on a venue at all.
Then yes, just buy in or make the food and hire some students off of Craigslist to serve it.
The only alternative I can think of would be to do it at a bar and warn people that they’ll have to buy their own drinks, but you’ll provide the food. A bar might let you have it on a Sunday morning without a crazy minimum, but with 40 people if you were hosting even just basic beer/wine you wouldn’t have anything left for food.
Post # 6
I don’t want to say you *couldn’t* pull it off – but think if it this way – that’s only $7.50 per person. I would look either to cut back the number of guests or increase the the budget. $300 is less than what I’m budgeting for my 14-person bridesmaids’ luncheon in a small restaurant – in Virginia!
Post # 7
Will you have an apartment or house to entertain in? If so, you can definitely buy cheese and cheap wine for a 40 person party. It will have to be pretty low-cost cheese and wine though. $7.50/pp is pretty low.
Post # 8
I know! The budget is crazy low, and it’s not even a set buget just yet. I’m just musing as to different ways to go about doing something special but economical. I’m so inspired by brides who find ways to pull off amazing weddings with very small budgets that I want to challenge myself with this mini-reception/gathering. There have been some good suggestions here already. Keep them coming!
Post # 9
You would have to do someone’s house for that to work. The main cost will be the booze, if you’re talking cocktail party. Plus, there is usually an 18% service charge on top of tax and the CA Health Care plan tax that one has to pay in San Francisco.
The only place I know where that might possibly work is Sugar Lounge in San Francisco. It’s in Hayes Valley and it’s a pretty cute lounge with sweet speciality drinks. I had my 30th birthday party there. They will allow you to order appetizers from them, which they bring in (but don’t cook there). For my party, I got tempura, chicken skewers, a fruit platter, and a few other dishes. It was about $150 for the food. Everyone paid for their own drinks. That is what I would suggest in your case. You can get A LOT of food there and those who want to drink can buy their own.
Sugar will reserve the entire place for your group, and they play pretty cool music and a dancefloor, and it’s really nice. I did have problems with them though in that they booked another party the same day as mine and then quite rudely kicked us out. I actually kinda yelled at the lady. But for that, it was the perfect place.
It’s fairly inexpensive to rent tables in parks. You could reserve a bunch of tables at one of the places in Golden Gate Park, or Delores Park and then get platters from Safeway or somewhere like that and a box of the two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s. Or get large dishes from Bucca di Beppo’s and bring them to the park.
You could also consider having a cocktail reception somewhere like The Starlight Room and getting a certain number of bottles (no appetizers) and booths. It would not be quite private, but could be fun. The Starlight Room is pretty kitchy, but can be fun.
I’ll continue to rack my brain and post more when I can think of it. 🙂