Nature has a bounty of decorating resources. Take a walk outside with basket in hand and let your brain storm for ideas as you stroll. Leaves, unusual stones, flowers, moss, pine cones, even sand can be used to create masterpieces. Spray paint, twine and glue are thrifty items to help you put together your nature theme.
Plan Your Menu Based On Sales
Instead of coming up with recipes then hitting the store paying full price, plan your menu based on the weekly sales. If you must know what you are serving before the sales circulars appear, keep a list handy of ingredients and buy what you can ahead of time when they are on sale and freeze when possible. There may even be some dishes that you can make and freeze which is a huge timesaver.
We actually decided to serve shrimp the WEEK of our wedding because it was on sale at for $3 a pound, COOKED. This was many years ago, by the way.
Make Your Own Centerpiece
Real Simple has some ideas that can be done in five minutes or less. Love the Wishing Well using curled paper. Or, use produce that's in season and on sale and shape to fit your party theme. Here are a few fun watermelon carving ideas that can be interchangeable with many other fruits and even veggies.
Instead of raiding your liquor cabinet or the ABC store to the tune of several hundred dollars, ask guest to bring a bottle of their favorite beverage. Create a serving bar with mix-ins and garnishes. Standards are sweet and sour mix (Here is a homemade recipe. I've gone further to save by buying the limes/lemons when on clearance, squeezing and freezing the juice.), seltzer, ginger ale, dark soda, mint leaves, olives, celery, limes and lemons.
What's your favorite party theme? Luau, beach, music, time period...?