Throwing a Dinner Party on a Budget
Good company, great food, and delicious drinks are the recipe for a perfect dinner party. Regardless of the occasion and your financial limits, you can throw an amazing dinner party without too much effort. Don’t let the thought of spending too much hold you back from inviting all of your friends over, there are tons of creative and easy ways to make this work! From drinks to decorations, we have pulled together a few ideas to save your wallet, while still impressing all of your guests with a dinner party on a budget!
Before we get into food and beverages, lets set the tone with some festive decorations. As always, when on a tight budget, simplicity is key. Regardless of how you decorate your home, your guests will still have a fun time, so keep that in mind. Start out by completely cleaning the place up to make way for some sprucing up. Next, focus on crafting a put-together look for your dining table. If you do not already have it, you can find reasonably priced place settings and centerpieces at HomeGoods or World Market; these are the items worth investing in, as you can use them over and over again. Candles are an inexpensive way to dress the room up, and also can be used over and over. Finally, some fresh flowers can really show guests that you took the time to do something special for them. This is an area that is easy to go overboard with, but it does not have to be a big expense. Gather up some small, single stem vases (you can improvise with items you already have) then create a one-of-a-kind centerpiece by grouping a few together.
Now on to the libations…chances are, this will be the most expensive portion of your event. However, there are some ways to make it a bit more affordable. I recommend choosing one specialty cocktail and sticking with that all night, perhaps in addition to a beer and wine selection. This way you wont have to purchase multiple liquors, and pre-making the cocktail will allow you to decide how much liquor you put in and will also give you more time to mingle with your guests! As for beer and wine, decide on a couple of mid-priced options that will please a crowd and compliment the food being served. Champagne is always a great idea for dinner parties, but can get very expensive. Try Cava or Prosecco instead, both great champagne substitutes that won’t require spending as much money. If you really want to stretch a buck and look fancy, offer a champagne cocktail such as this grapefruit-mint bellini. Don’t forget to provide a non-alcoholic selection; some guests may be drawn to this instead, and it will help keep the rest of your party animal friends hydrated.
There are tons of inexpensive appetizer options. A go-to no matter the occasion is fruit and veggie platters…serve some homemade hummus or guacamole on the side and you are good to go. Fresh baguettes are another versatile option; you can use them to make bruschetta, pair them with a cheese platter, or simply just serve them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping. Depending on what you plan to serve for your main course, you can choose to cut back and serve minimal appetizers.
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The easiest and most cost efficient way to serve a group of guests is to serve a one pot meal such as lasagna, cassoulet or a stir fry (one of Maddie’s go-to meals!). Dishes that you can make in large quantities that everyone will still enjoy will be cheaper and less time consuming for you. If you plan to serve meat, you can round out the meal in an affordable way by offering a large salad filled with seasonal veggies and an inexpensive side such as a potato or pasta salad. Another great idea is to make your dinner party a potluck. Have each of your guests bring an item to share with everyone. The group will get to try a little bit of everything, giving your meal a lot of variety and your guests plenty to talk about!
When it comes to dessert, a homemade approach will go a long way in charming your friends and keeping you on budget. Bite-sized fruit paired with chocolate, fresh baked cookies or that new pie recipe are all great offerings that are sure to please. Bonus: you get to sample the goods as part of the creative process!