We hosted a piano recital at our house this past Saturday. The students were encouraged to wear costumes as they played their pieces for the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and caregivers. I had two missions for this gathering: 1) serve food that was not high in sugar and 2) don't spend a lot of money.
The obvious reason for not serving cookies, cake or anything like that is because the recital was from 930am-1030am. Meaning, if you've ever been on the receiving end of kids on a sugar high first thing in the morning, you know your day never ends well. Also, the piano teacher is super thoughtful. My hunch was that candy would be in the treat bags that she gives to the students. There was no need to add sugar on top of sugar. My second mission of not spending a ton of money came about because of a comment that hosting these events was a little out of control (aka extravagant). Before I heard this, I had already hosted two other piano recitals and I thought mine were very low key (sorry for the pun). I fully understand why spending more makes an event much nicer and much easier. I decided to challenge myself - whatever I could manage would have to be good enough. So here is how I stuck to my goals:
The Menu - Fortunately for me, the recital was in the morning. Breakfast is the least expensive of the three meals and it was even easier because I wasn't serving breakfast. After checking if there were food allergies, I chose to serve fruit and bread sticks. We had one gluten-free student so popcorn was a good option that was easy, cheap and everyone could enjoy it. I also put out some GF pretzels from Trader Joes. For drinks, I served hot apple cider, coffee, tea, apple juice and cold apple cider.
The Decor - My house was already decorated with a collection of my kids' Halloween artwork and I also had my vintage Halloween decorations displayed so I didn't buy much for the recital. From Jo Ann's Fabric, I purchased a big pumpkin bowl ($5) to hold the popcorn and now I am reusing it to hold all the bags of candy we are giving to the trick or treaters. I also purchased two floral arrangements which took up most of my budget. These arrangements served a dual purpose. First as decor, not only for the recital but to be enjoyed this whole week. And second, one of the arrangements was a gift to the teacher after the recital. I also rented and decorated 12 chairs for the students. I thought it would be fun for the chairs to be part of the Halloween theme.
Paper goods - I stocked up on napkins from Home Goods and since paper straws are the new rave these days, I got some of those too. I put the straws into these darling milk bottles that I ordered online thru Amazon. I bought plates from a grocery store because they were only a $1 for 8 plates. On the cheap, I bought styrofoam cups for the adults to hold the hot cider, tea or coffee. I thought as an activity, the kids or adults could draw a mummy or a ghost, using the white background of the cup. They would have a personalized cup for the cost of pennies.
The Teacher Gift - Besides the floral arrangement, we also gave the piano teacher a thoughtful pinch from the kids. It was a tall black jar wrapped in gold stripes and had two eyes peeking out - resembling a mummy. We filled it with Hershey Kisses. Then my kids were in charge of getting all the students who were in the recital to write a little note to the teacher on strips of paper. We put the notes in the jar, put the lid on and shook it well. I have already received an email from the teacher saying that she loved reaching into the jar to fetch some chocolate and coming up with notes from the students as well. Mummy Kisses. (The jar was $3.99 and two bags of kisses each $3.99 all from Target.)
Overall, I stuck to my budget and kept everything very simple. Mission accomplished! I think everyone was relaxed and comfortable. Most importantly, the recital solely focused on the kids who all played their best. We, the audience, could see and hear how hard they worked to put on a good show. Being thoughtful of the kids really kept me focused on my goals. I was starting to fall into the trap of taking it to the next level, which would have meant spending more time and money. In the end, I only spent approximately $250. But I feel like the event gave the piano teacher AND the pianists the opportunity to feel like a million bucks!
Have a happy and safe Halloween!