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5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Host a Great Party at Home

Designer, author, and lifelong entertainer Nathan Turner shares his tips for a one-of-a-kind gathering that works within your budget.

Browse Online

If shopping opportunities in your area aren't plentiful, or if you're looking to spend a certain amount on party decor, turn to online sources that are ripe with one-of-a-kind items. "eBay and Etsy are incredible resources for people that don't live in heavily populated areas with tons of stores and resources. They have great vintage and handmade stuff," Nathan says.

Stick to a Theme

A theme is a good starting point for a gathering, but it doesn't have to involve much effort or expense. "I'm always so inspired by places I've been and will bring back things that are fun to put on the table," Nathan says. "I love old-world themes of places and different types of food, but it doesn't have to be complicated or involved. Say you're Italian and you come from an Italian-American background. Have fun and go with a Sicilian theme with oranges and lemons on your table. It doesn't have to be far-reaching."

Save on Fabric

"I almost never buy tablecloths," Nathan says. The self-proclaimed fabric lover turns to retailers like for a variety of prints and patterns and an affordable price point. "I buy a couple of yards and throw it over the table. I don't even make a hem, I'll just make a clean cut with fabric scissors." For an even cleaner edge, he uses hem tape from the craft store.

Grow Your Own Garnishes

"I like to use a little mint or lemon leaves for the finishing touch for the garnish on these mezze platters. Rosemary is also really pretty. These are things that are inexpensive and a lot of people have them in pots or in the garden. Kind of whatever you haveā€”mint, basil, just giving that greenery is what finishes it off."

Repurpose What You Already Own

A tabletop is all about mixing a variety of textures and colors, and displaying them in a pleasing way, says Nathan. Raid your cabinets for cups and dishes that can be pressed into service for party time. Long, skinny vegetables like carrot sticks and asparagus look great when gathered in juice cups, and cherry tomatoes fit perfectly in small ceramic bowls. "It's about organizing them in pretty ways in different shaped dishes and containers, and I always like to put them all out on a tray," says Nathan.

Find more easy entertaining tips and ideas in his new book, Nathan Turner's I Love California, $40;