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Throw a spa party, at your place or the spa's

Now that the holidays are over, it's the perfect time to throw a spa soiree for all your pals who want to start the new year beautifully. I've thrown beauty bashes inspired by stationery, cupcake flavors, even songs . . . Mani Monday, anyone? But for most women, a spa party is driven by occasions such as birthdays, weddings and babies.

The "why?" easily answered, start planning your spa soiree by deciding where you'll host it. Whether at home, at a spa or even at your favorite boutique, the "when" for your event will be dictated by your schedule and that of your host location. Your favorite spa or salon is likely to have party options to fit a variety of budgets and may even offer some amenities free of charge for groups — think appetizers and cocktails.

But don't be afraid to think outside of the salon. Your neighborhood boutique may be willing to close its doors for you and your guests on a typically slow Monday evening. I recently hosted a beauty bash for 500 women at a fitness facility called Flirty Girl Fitness. Pole dancing classes and manicures rounded off the fun, festive vibe.

Next, it's time to set your budget. I'll keep my financial advice to one jewel even Ms. Orman would approve of: Decide upon your budget and stick to it mercilessly. To that end, read on for some money-saving party tips that would make even Suze proud.

Skip the paper invites. Classic invitations are lovely but e-vites are effective and economical.

If the sky's the limit, pick upscale nibbles for your guests, but if cash is tight, you can turn to DIY elements to make even economical eats appear gourmet. For example, bake your own cupcakes and add a custom Ticing, thin sheets of edible icing printed with designs using food-grade inks. Priced at about $12 for a dozen, you can choose from ready-made or upgrade to customized designs at ticings.com. At TwoSugarBabies on Etsy.com, edible fondant cupcake toppers are available in designs including monograms, baby footprints, modern flowers and more and sell for $10 to $18 per dozen with custom designs also available.

Flowers are gorgeous but there's room to save by decorating with fresh fruits, lollipop bouquets and even candy buffets — as decor and dessert.

Akin to wearing a Hanes white tank with your Citizens Of Humanity denim, a well-placed signature element can up the quality of your spa soiree without sending costs skyrocketing.

For example, at a recent spa party I hosted at my home, guests were greeted by martini glasses on a silver platter. Each glass was filled with several hues of nail polish and a sign that read, "Take a drink, you'll need it." After lunch, pedicures for all were the surprise du jour and those martini glasses were the signature element that guests still talk about. I already owned the glasses, and still do, and the drugstore polishes set me back $2.50 a pop, proving that your party doesn't have to break the bank to be the talk of the town.

Carolyn Brundage is the founder of TampaBay.PrettyCity.com, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn on Twitter @tampabaypretty.

Throw a spa party, at your place or the spa's 01/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 3:30am]
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