Your bestie’s birthday is coming up and you really want to throw them a surprise party. You know they’ve always wanted one, but you also know they won’t be expecting one to happen at your student digs or in your campus res room. It’s been a long year for them and you really want to do something special. However, you can’t really afford to go all out in the way that their parents would. You just don’t have the budget. But, don’t worry, you can still host a surprise party without emptying your bank account. And it won’t be as difficult as you think! Here are six ways you can throw a surprise party on a student budget and still have the best party ever. Start with a realistic budget and stick to it Know exactly how much you can afford to spend on this party, down to the very last cent. And don’t even think about exceeding that amount. Once you have a strict budget in your head, you’ll know exactly what you can and cannot afford, so you won’t end up spending loads of money on a personalised cake and using up all the money you have. Also, try to get other close friends of your bestie to contribute, even if it’s only a small amount. Every rand counts in these situations. But just because you have a budget, that doesn’t mean you have to spend it. First, see what you can get for free before buying things you’ll only use once. Don’t even consider renting out a venue Sure, you might not be able to fit everyone into your tiny res room or your digsmates might have a problem with you throwing a party while they’re trying to study. If this is the case, ask around about free, open venues on campus. While you won’t be able to book out a huge hall without paying for it, you’ll be surprised at how many rooms are available if you put in a request well ahead of time. Even if all your requests are denied, at least you tried. And if this happens, you’re still not out of options. You have friends who live in digs, right? Well, ask every single one of them if they’d be willing to let you use their space for the party. Promise you’ll clean up beforehand and afterwards. Really sell the idea by telling them how their flat or house will be cleaner than it’s ever been before. Plus, you’re at university, who doesn’t want to party? Keep the guest list as short as you can While you might want to invite every single person you know, this is most likely not possible. Organise the space where you’re throwing the party before you start with the guest list. This way, you’ll know how many people you can realistically invite. Yes, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not inviting them, but you can only fit so many people into one room, flat or house. Cut out all the people you want to invite who aren’t actually that close to your bestie. Remember, this is their party and not yours. Focus on inviting their core group of friends and then, if you have space, you can invite more people. And since the whole point is to keep this party a secret, you won’t end up with any gate crashers. However, it’s always a good idea to let all the guests know that it’s strictly “invite only”. Ask guests to each bring their favourite snack Unless you’re only inviting three or four people, there’s very little chance that you’ll be able to feed everyone. And you have to have snacks at a party. So, ask each guest to bring along their favourite snack. You can sell it as a way to make sure everyone has something they like to eat and that suits their dietary requirements. Also, people will be excited to share their choc chip cupcake recipe with everyone and see if they enjoy it as much as they do. You can even have a competition to see who brings the best snacks. Base your theme on the decorations you have available to you Even if you don’t have any decorations of your own, you should definitely be able to find someone willing to offer up theirs for free. Whether they have boxes of Halloween decorations or bags of cool fabrics to drape around the venue, you’ll find something. And then you can decide on a theme that goes with the decorations you haven’t had to spend a cent on. You’ll be able to figure out a way to turn whatever decorations you find into a theme that your bestie will love. Create a list of budget-friendly gift ideas and send it to the guests You know your bestie better than anyone, which means you know exactly what kinds of gifts they’d appreciate for their birthday. So, why not ensure that everyone else knows what they’d like as well. This way your friend won’t have to research store policies and make use of the Consumer Protection Act regulations to exchange a gift for something they actually want. Just remember, and this is important, that the other guests are likely to be students as well. This means you can’t expect them to go around spending loads of money on a birthday present. Make sure your list of gift ideas is budget-friendly.