5 Affordable Entertainment Ideas for Events

You don't have to spend to fortune to keep your guests entertained.
Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images

You're trying to plan the ultimate party, but sadly, the entertainment portion of your budget won't cover the price of the hair-raising rock n' roll band you hoped to hire. To keep from overspending, you decide to use an MP3 player that will play rock music over loud speakers instead.

To anyone on a budget, this scenario might sound familiar. Providing guests with the right kind of entertainment is an integral part of any event, but how can you afford the perfect act without breaking the bank?


While everyone wants their event to be a success, you don't have to max out your credit card in order to have a good time. There are plenty of ways to save money without blowing your entire budget on the entertainment; just be creative with how you spend your money. Whether you're planning a charity ball or a backyard barbecue, here are five affordable entertainment ideas that will ensure that everyone enjoys themselves without you having to take out a second mortgage.

Click over to the next page to lean how to keep people singing and save money at the same time.

5: Rent or Buy a Karaoke Machine

Most people love to sing, even if they can't carry a tune.
Jutta Klee/Taxi/Getty Images

Karaoke is a fun party activity for all ages, and you can rent a machine for as little as $50 for an entire weekend. Even if you prefer to keep your singing voice confined to the privacy of your bathroom shower, it's always fun to watch other party guests grab the mic and croon -- or shame -- the latest pop song. Karaoke rental prices depend on size and capability. Machines can accommodate anything from a teenager's small birthday party to large weddings or charity events and may include anywhere from 350 to 15,000 songs. Of course, a bigger songbook means the rental will come with a heftier price tag, but quality karaoke machines can be purchased for around $300, so consider making an investment if you plan to promote sing-alongs at future events.


4: Hire a Portrait Artist

Caricature artists sketch peoples' portraits by exaggerating their facial features -- often resulting in comical pieces of art. Due to the humorous nature of their work, these artists are a great choice for a child's birthday party, a backyard barbecue or a teenager's quinceaƱera, bat mitzvah or sweet 16 party. For more formal events like weddings or anniversary parties, consider hiring a silhouette artist instead. As guests arrive, the artist can quickly cut their profiles using only a pair of scissors and black paper, and these elegant works of art can decorate the venue for the evening. Caricature and silhouette artists are affordable entertainment options, both charging about $150 to $200 an hour. As guests leave, they can take their portraits home as favors to enjoy long after the party is over.


3: Rent or Craft a Photo Booth

Making your own photo booth is easy. All you need is a computer, backdrop, seat and someone to take a picture of.
Laurie Rubin/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Photo booths are a classic way to entertain party guests of all ages. They're popular staples at birthday parties, school dances and weddings, but they can provide entertainment at practically any event. Photo booth rentals cost upwards of $600 to $1,000, and while some would argue that these memory-generating machines are worth every penny, you could make your own picture booth for much less. Create your own backdrop with fabric or a tablecloth, and fill a basket with props like hats, boas and sunglasses for guests to use in silly poses. Enlist a friend to take pictures with an instant camera, which typically retail for $100 to $300. Computer programs like Sparkbooth also serve as an easy, inexpensive way to create a photo booth. Requiring only a computer and webcam, guests can take their own pictures with this software, available to purchase for just $60.


2: Play the Part of Fortune Teller

Everyone is curious to know what the future holds -- will you win the lottery and retire young or find true, everlasting love? At your next birthday party, Halloween or carnival-themed event, you could hire a fortune teller for $100 to $250 an hour, but if that's a little too pricy, why not get into character and play the part of mystic seer yourself? Grab a scarf to tie around your head, a crystal ball and read creative, over-the-top or funny fortunes to party goers young and old. The fortunes will be in jest, of course, but there's a good chance your guests will get a bigger kick out of your predictions than those of a professional clairvoyant!


1: Don't Pay for a DJ

As we mentioned earlier, you could shell out hundreds of dollars to hire a DJ for your next event, or cut your expenses and use your MP3 player to play tunes instead. Music will be a key factor if your party is going to be a success, but only if guests respond to your song choices and dance the night away. To find out which tunes should make the cut, include a line on every RSVP card for guests to write their favorite song titles, or create an online poll to learn which genres of music will keep the crowd hopping. Depending on the formality of your event, you might need an emcee to announce things like the cutting of the cake at a wedding or the bar's last call at a class reunion. Simply rent the equipment you'll need -- like a microphone and microphone cable, sound mixer, amplifier, speakers and speaker stands -- for as little as $200 to $400 for the evening. Music should be the life of the party, so double-check all equipment in advance, and have a backup plan in case anything goes wrong!


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Caricature Guy, the. "12 Frequent Questions About Caricatures." (Feb. 29, 2012) http://www.thecaricatureguy.com/frequent_caricature_questions.html
  • Caricature Guy, the. "Keys To Hiring a Good Caricature Artist." (Feb. 29, 2012) http://www.thecaricatureguy.com/hire_a_good_caricaturist.html
  • Fourth Estate Audio. "Considering an iPod Wedding Instead of a DJ?" (Feb. 29, 2012) http://www.discjockey.org/ipod-wedding-guide/