How to save money on social events

At some point in our careers, we will end up either hosting or participating in social gatherings.  The events may be as simple as meeting up with a few colleagues at the bar  or renting out an event space for a departmental party.  This is essentially what happens in the big cities like New York and San Francisco where most doctors aren’t going to have much apartment space (more importantly bathroom space) for more than a handful of people.

If you live anywhere else in the country, you could end up saving quite a bit of money if you offer to host an event in your own home.  It can be done, no matter what size of home you live in.  I once had a coworker in New York’s Upper West Side host frequent parties in his 1200 sq ft, two bedroom two bathroom apartment. I believe that we had about twenty people in the apartment at one point with room to spare!


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The benefits of hosting a party at home.

As the host, you essentially trade the hassle of traveling and parking for having to organize your own event.  You have to assess whether that is worth it to you.  But everyone can end up saving a bit of money if someone in your group volunteers to host.

Space.  For large groups, restaurants gouge you either on the space rental or on the minimum purchase amount of food needed.  That can easily run $1000 if you have an entire department to host.

Drinks.  The biggest money maker in the restaurant business is alcohol.  Beer, wine, and spirits confer the highest profit margin in any sale.  In parties, we drink alcohol.  Unless your friend Physician On Fire (who owns shares in a brewery) offers to host your holiday party at his brewery, you’re going to spend a ton of money on drinks.  A $12 drink at the bar could buy you an entire 750ml bottle of table wine. If you drink the cheap stuff, you can get 1.5l at Total Wine!

If you’ve already paid for a fancy chandelier, you might as well show it off.

Food.  Even if you cater all of the food to your home, it will be cheaper than purchasing food at a restaurant or bar.  Better yet, your hosts can each potluck items for the event.  Someone’s gotta have a Costco membership.

You might also like: The only strategy you’ll need to save money when you’re too busy to price shop.


How much you can save will depend on how much time you have to spend on preparing meals for your guests.

Comfort.  Most social events I’ve been to in restaurants are confined to a room where everyone is sitting around a table.  You only get to talk to the people immediately adjacent to where you’re sitting.  Larger settings in restaurants can be arranged in a cocktail-like setting, but boy are those expensive.  If you are attending an event at a coworker’s home, you’ve potentially an entire backyard for kids to run around and plenty of space for everyone to mingle or sit down.

Make sure you are adequately insured.

Liability is more of a touchy issue.  It probably won’t matter as much if you are hosting your partners at your home. However, once you have employees and ancillary staff around, there is real risk of liability.  What if someone gets injured in your swimming pool? What if one of your employees gets inebriated at your home and hurts herself or someone else? What if said inebriated employee gets into an automobile accident on the way home? If you aren’t financially independent already, you still have great financial liability that some sleazy television lawyer is waiting to sue.

Get yourself some umbrella insurance.  You might not need any if you are still a resident with a six-figure negative net worth and struggling to pay your electricity bill, but once you are an attending with some wealth attached to your name it’ll give you peace of mind.  For those of you who have already looked into it, you will likely find that your auto and home insurance company will offer umbrella insurance, but may have certain stipulations.  Most companies require you to purchase a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to meet the requirements for umbrella. Even though a $1 million umbrella policy might only cost you $400 a year, you might have to purchase a more comprehensive auto insurance that might run you an extra $1200 a year.  It doesn’t matter if you drive a 20 year old Honda or a Maserati.

Umbrella insurance itself is inexpensive, but in order to meet the qualifications, you might have to increase the coverage of your vehicles and homes.  Food for thought.

What other suggestions do you have to save money on social events?

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

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