behind the scenes at Cafe Lift
I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to write a post about the final cost of the party. Somehow, after talking about everything else though, it seems necessary. All anybody knows right now is that I completed rented out a venue, had a DJ, provided a full meal, and a completely unlimited bar in the city of Philadelphia. And no, I don’t have a rich aunt or uncle hiding somewhere in the world. So here’s how it went down.
I decided at the beginning that I wasn’t going to be able to fund the entire event by myself. For the size of the event and the fanciness of the event that I wanted to throw, it just wasn’t going to be possible. Every time I tell my mother that I’m going to make people pay to come to my birthday party she asks me if this is normal. And every time I tell her, no, it’s not normal, but somehow I manage to be (insert word of choice) here to pull it off. $25 was the maximum amount I felt comfortable asking for per person. I thought about $20, but I knew that it wasn’t going to be enough to cover the bill. It also worked out pretty nicely that it was my 25th birthday party on the 25th day of the month and people needed to pay $25. (Maybe that means I’m allowed to ask for $30 on my 30th birthday.)
There was a room fee at Cafe Lift. Then, on top of that, I was paying for food. We actually talked our way through the menu multiple times before we came up with an option that made me comfortable. I originally said that I wanted french toast on the menu as one of my three items. Well, here’s the thing, the regular french toast costs a little bit more during the winter because fruit is out of season, which left me with the cannoli french toast, which is still a little bit expensive in itself. When I asked the owner to lower the price, he responded by telling me that if I wanted the price to go any lower the best option would probably be to make the cupcakes myself, which would cut off about $2/person.
So, I thought about it. I started to price it out. The cost of all of the cake mixes (I’m sorry, you thought I was going to make homemade cupcakes for 70 people when I work out of state, that’s just silly), the eggs, oil, wrappers, the frosting (ditto cake mixes reasoning), additional carrying cases, and time it was going to take me – I very quickly determined that the better option was going to be to have them make the cupcakes instead. So I went back to the menu. The canoli french toast was $9.50/person. No wonder my cost was so high! So I asked him if I could change out the french toast for the fritatta (only $8/person) and I was able to lower the price to a number that I felt comfortable with.
I lucked out with the DJ situation. My friend Johanna’s dad happens to be a DJ. He actually DJ-ed my 21st birthday party. And actually, every time that he has seen me since that party he has asked when the next one was going to be. And actually, every time I said thank you to him, I believe the response was something along the lines of, “my wife and I just enjoy a good party.” So they’re pretty much just awesome. They also drove almost two hours in a snowstorm to do this. They’re wonderful.
The alcohol, as you may have seen in the post about the alcohol, was going to cost approximately $700. Admittedly, I spent money at the store for myself that day too, so I actually somehow managed a $750 charge on my credit card. I had accepted that, and I realized that it was significantly cheaper than I was going to get at any non-BYOB restaurant. AND I was able to return $160 worth, so the alcohol actually only came out to $540, or $7.70 per person.
Overall, the total cost came to about $40 per head or $2800, which when all was said and done, wasn’t bad at all, especially because I only had to pay $1100 out of pocket. So it counts as a mini vacation with all of my favorite people. Not only that, but I got a bunch of awesome homemade cards (which I’ve been told people are already waiting for the blog posts on), a lot of great memories, and a lot of friends and family that traveled pretty far to get there.
Here are some tips that I have for anybody looking to keep their costs down:
- Decide at the beginning how much money you’re willing to spend.
- Do your research on venues ahead of time.
- Send out paper-items electronically or print them yourself.
- See if you can substitute individual items to make the cost cheaper (a different kind of wine, or a cheaper menu item).
- Look to friends and family for assistance when possible.
- Consider serving food in a buffet instead of sit-down (like this was).
- Remember you can always return things you don’t use.
- HOWEVER, consider how much your time is worth (for me, not making cupcakes was worth the extra cost).
Phew. That was quite the saga, thank you to everybody who read along. Does anybody else have any cost-saving tips that I can use for next time around?