When planning a party, no matter how many afternoons you spend crafting decorations or hours dedicated to curating the perfect playlist, there’s one lingering question that always hangs over the host’s head: Will my guests have fun?
Now, we don’t know your friends, but we’re pretty sure they’ll appreciate your efforts no matter what. If that’s not enough to silence your pre-party anxiety, we’ve got a few tips to balance the scales in your favor. First thing’s first, allow us to share with you our golden rule of party planning: Engage all five senses during the event (sight, touch, smell, taste, hear). It’s a foolproof formula for success. Color schemes and decorations give people something to look at; textured flatware or cloth cocktail napkins give hands something to feel; food and florals provide nice aromas; food and cocktails engage the palate; and lastly, music to please the ears.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Fitting party planning into the nooks and crannies of a busy schedule while keeping track of a budget isn’t easy. (Psst, this is where My Party comes in, it’ll help you stay organized and suggest local entertainers that can take your party to the next level.) Now, back to the whole “impressing your guests” thing, that’s what bookable entertainment is for—and it’s way less expensive than you may think.
We did a little digging and found the top 10 most affordable entertainment categories bookable for any event. All starting at (or under) $100 an hour.
10. Tarot Card Reader (from $100 an hour)
Stage performances are great, but maybe you don’t have the space for that. A one-on-one experience is just as special, and each guest will walk away with their own unique story. To avoid any long cues, consider putting a sign-up sheet in the tarot area, so guests can sign up for a time slot and won’t have to miss any of the party while waiting in line.
9. Caricaturist (from $100 an hour)
Before there were photo booths, there were artists drawing by hand. (So vintage, right?) Our favorite thing about caricaturists is that the drawings double as a take-home favor! Leaving with a personalized portrait is a great way to remember any event. Guests can pose with a friend or have solo portraits drawn.
8. Psychic (from $100 an hour)
Different from tarot card readers, psychics may bounce back and forth between palm reading, handwriting analysis or tapping into clairvoyant abilities. Guests can have individual sessions, but it’s also fun to pair up or have small group sessions if there’s a large crowd.
Acoustic guitar can complement any type of event or theme. Whether you’re looking for soft music in the background while guests arrive, or a jazzy ambience for a cocktail party, a professional guitarist can ebb and flow to whatever the environment requires. Not only that, but they can also cover your favorite tunes.
6. Harpist (from $100 an hour)
Have you ever been to a party with a harpist? Probably not—those parties don’t just happen on any old Friday night. Treat guests to an outrageously cool experience at your next afternoon tea party or late-night dinner party by serenading them with this enchanting instrument.
5. Temporary Tattoo Artist (from $100 an hour)
For a summer event or even a festival-themed party, temporary tattoos break the ice between strangers and allow everyone to show off their personal style. It’s also a perfect option for family events that will have lots of kids or teens in tow. This art form can vary between airbrush, crystal application or flash tattoos, so ask the artist if they have a preferred specialty.
4. Henna Artist (from $70 an hour)
From belly mandala for a baby shower to temporary body art for a sweet sixteen birthday, a henna artist can really dazzle the crowd. These intricate designs can last for as long as three weeks—meaning guests will have a reason to talk about how awesome your party was, long after its over.
3. Accordionist (from $50 an hour)
If you’re throwing an event that celebrates a regional culture or holiday, book a musician that can perform music specific to those traditions. The accordion has roots in many parts of Europe, such as Italy, Germany, France and Poland.
2. Violinist (from $50 an hour)
From classical to contemporary, violins have a way of making any tune sound enchanting. If you’re trying to make your event seem more formal, the addition of live string music is a foolproof way to achieve the ambience you’re after.
1. Bartender (from $20 an hour)
And the number one spot of most affordable party entertainment goes to: bartenders! You may not immediately think of a bartender as a form of entertainment, but mixology skills coupled with flair bartending is unbelievably captivating. Hiring a bartender service is way less expensive than people think, and it relieves you of multiple hosting duties. Worth it? 100 percent.