Friday, November 11, 2011

Tips for a Budget-Friendly Veteran’s Day Celebration

Guest post by Kevin Pearia

Veterans Day was designed to honor those who have defended and protected our country.  And choosing to throw a party to salute your family and friends in the military is a wonderful way to celebrate the day…and you can do it without breaking the bank.

Start with a budget and stick with it…and make reasonable choices.  

Don’t spend money on unnecessary stamps.  Send e-vites to your guest who are web savvy and save the mail for the few who don’t have email.  Evite is the biggest electronic invitation company.

Choose to entertain at home and you’ll save a bundle over renting a facility.  If the gathering is too large for your home, look into a local park or public facility. 

Decorating will be easy –  you just can’t go wrong with stars and stripes, and red, white and blue.  Even if you don’t have some left over from your 4th of July, patriotic decorations are inexpensive to purchase at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michaels, and also easy to make.  Get some star-shaped stamps and colored ink and let the kids go to town on invitations and paper table cloths.  If the budget allows, consider incorporating poppies into your décor as it is the symbolic flower of Veterans Day.

If you can get photos of your veterans in uniform, scan them, enlarge them and put them on display.  Check the internet for photos of places where they trained or served, tanks or planes they operated, and add those to the decorations.  But don’t download until you know you’re not violating a copyright by doing so.  You can purchase pictures for a small price on line.  

With all the options to download music, it’s never been easier to assemble the perfect party mix for your theme, at a fraction of the price of purchasing full albums.  Each generation has its favorite type of music, so be sure to bring something for everyone.

In addition to music, consider adding a party game to your event…especially if children are involved.  With just a little research, you can design a trivia game around America’s military involvements.  Just create teams of veterans mixed with non-veterans and see who remembers the most history.  Or you can pit branches of service against each other in a “Name that Tune” contest using the music of each period. 

Cater it yourself and keep it simple.  What’s better for an all-American party than all-American favorites?  But whatever your menu, shopping at wholesale clubs or restaurant supply stores will keep the food budget under control and allow you to get disposable dinnerware without over-spending.  Not having to do dishes will let you enjoy more time with your guests.

As the party winds to a close, schedule a story-telling time and ask the veterans to tell a tale about their time in the service.  Let them set the mood, and share what they like.  Everyone will probably learn something new, and it’s a great way to put the veterans center-stage…right where they belong on Veterans Day!

Kevin Pearia is a personal finance blogger for VA Mortgage, providing military families with personal finance advice on topics from household savings to VA home loans.

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