|Lauren will butter yo' bread for food.|
I threw this Economic Stimulus Party to bolster our spirits . . . without depleting my bank account. I instituted a 50/50 raffle - a $5 donation was collected at the door. At the stroke of midnight, I drew a name out of a hat. Half the money went to me to cover the cost of the food, and the rest of the pot went to the lucky winner. That way, all I needed to pay for myself was the booze.
The raffle system worked out so well, that I've instituted it for a number of large parties over the years. $5 seems like the right price; guests know they don't have to make a mad dash to a liquor store beforehand, $5 is less than the cost of the six-pack they likely would have brought, and the math works nicely; throw a party for 50 people, and someone is going home with $125. Now, feeding people for $2.50 a head isn't lavish, but if you budget, that should cover all or most of your food costs.
In order to get people in a festive mood, I came up with a group art project. I took a Polaroid of each guest (now that Polaroid is extinct, I would recommend using a Fuji Instax camera), and then affixed their picture to a blank piece of paper with the words "Will _____ for Food" written on top. Each guest got to fill out his or her own joke resume, tailored for these desperate times. Click here for a photo gallery of some of my faves. And click here for a Stimulus Playlist to kickstart your party.
Want to get elaborate? Serve up a menu that's hobo-chic. Try hot dogs and baked beans in a crock pot, frito pie, a hot water carafe next to individual servings of ramen noodles, and a selection of your favorite snackie cakes. Make a centerpiece of flowers using empty cans of baked beans and cheap wine bottles for vases. Give people props to pose with for their photos - a bindle, a harmonica, and a corncob pipe. Eat, drink, and be merry - tomorrow you could be riding the rails.