How To Entertain On a Budget
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Do you love having people over, but always end up spending quite a lot of money and after everyone is gone you kind of regret doing it? That used to be me! It is easy to send out the invites, visit Pinterest and get all the creativity juices flowing as fast as your money, but it is not wise because we have #goals. I am not saying you can’t entertain people at your house anymore, but if you do so, you can follow these easy suggestions to help you keep healthy family finances:
Keep in mind that bringing family and/or friends together should be more about hospitality than about entertaining. You are not a clown and your house is not a circus. Open your heart before opening your home and remember visitors will enjoy a wonderful atmosphere and experience more than the food and decor itself. You don’t have to throw an over-the-top party to enjoy the company of others. It’s more about having an enjoyable time together. If you enter the planning phase and the day-off with a hospitality mindset you will feel much more relaxed and find yourself spending less money trying to impress others, while spending more time trying to create the right atmosphere to invite others into your home.
The number 1 rule to throw a budget-friendly dinner party is to keep the guest list short. Making it an intimate event will preserve your sanity and also your savings. I know sometimes we feel like we need to have a lot of people for it to be a real party, or if you invite this person then you have to invite that other person, but don’t fall in that trap. It is your home, so it is perfectly ok for you to make the decision and to pick just the best and closest of friends. Maybe if you do good and you stay within budget, you can throw another party soon and invite some other people you had to leave out this time around.
When you want to impress people, it’s easy to go over board and want to have a full spread of amazing food. Remember that a dinner party is not about impressing others, it’s about sharing each others’ company.
Keep it simple. Nuts and fruits, chips and salsa or hummus are great appetizers. Have a simple salad and a main entrée meal. Pasta is my go-to dish because it is everybody’s favorite and can also be very affordable to make if you keep it simple. If you are having kids over, they will love pasta dishes. Pinterest has great ideas for other meals that look and taste delicious that are also budget friendly.
Keep dessert simple by serving vanilla ice cream over a warm store-bought cookie or brownie topped with some chocolate syrup. Just ice cream, cookies or brownies are also a good alternative. After a great meal people are not that hungry and after a couple glasses of wine and as the dinner party wraps up, dessert is usually something that gets a little lost at the end, so don’t waste a lot of money and time making something that people might even end up skipping.
When people ask you what to bring, don’t be shy and accept their offer. I usually ask for wine and/or beer, so I don’t even have to worry about buying drinks, but you can ask for them to bring the salad, the dessert or the appetizers. It helps a lot!
Something else I might do to keep the evening party within the budget is that I might only offer appetizers, big and small, salty and sweet. I found that usually people eat a lot of appetizers and then they are not really hungry for dinner, but they will eat it to not be rude. In the end you end up eating more than what you were comfortable with and this will have an impact on your health and on your waist, so why force it? depending on the occasion and the guests, I would strongly suggest you limit the food to only appetizers.
You can make really fancy drinks that are very affordable, containing a liquor, some juice and ice. Stick to only one cocktail that goes with the meal you are offering. Pinterest has so many recipes of cocktails that won’t break the bank.
I usually keep it simple with a couple of bottles of good wine and a few beers on hand. There are great wine brands that are affordable, but make sure you buy good brands (don’t go to cheap), because bad wine can cause headaches and you don’t want people leaving your home with that bad feeling.
When I am throwing a budget-friendly dinner party I focus on the tablescape and the way I present the food and drinks more than on actual decoration. I stay away from themes that will require additional decor purchases, like a Hawaiian or Wild-West party.
I might use my mom’s or my mother-in-law’s nice china, present the salad on one of my huge platters, etc. Using what you already have won’t cost you a thing and it will add character, charm and maybe conversation starters to the evening.
We use Amazon Alexa to play soft jazz tunes on the background when my boss or coworkers came over for dinner, or upbeat salsa music at a reasonable volume when my Hispanic friends come to visit.
Music is essential to entertaining on a budget because it’s free and it adds to the joyful atmosphere you want to create for your guests.
I know there are many more tips out there on how to entertain on a tight budget, so please let me know if you have some creative ways to enjoy more and spend less.