How to Throw a Cheap, Chic Dinner Party
It’s a myth that entertaining costs lots of money – with a little creativity, a dinner party for eight doesn’t have to cost so much.
It’s always fun to host a dinner party until it starts to crunch your wallet. But dinner parties needn’t be canceled in lean times; instead, focus on high-value, low-cost items to make your party shine just as much as ever without costing a pretty penny.
It’s All in the Details
Instead of buying candles and flowers for a centerpiece, think a little closer to home. A bowl of found objects from around the house, like ornaments or trinkets, can make a very interesting centerpiece that sparks conversation. Instead of candlelight, dim the lights around the table for a similar effect. If it’s candlelight you’re after, though, try grouping together an eclectic mix of candles you already have, or for a more uniform effect, buy cheap tealights and set them at different levels in the middle of the table.
Using your fanciest dishes makes the party feel elegant and special, even if it doesn’t cost you anything more than using your everyday dishes. Set full place settings with two forks and two glasses at each place (one for wine, one for water) and it’ll feel like high tea at a fancy restaurant.
Focus on Good Food
Instead of serving an appetizer spread, it’s important as a frugal entertainer to stick to one thing and do it well. Try a goat cheese or cream cheese appetizer, and try to mix simple flavors that will complement each other.
For dinner, stick to simple ingredients but work on your culinary prowess by preparing it in an impressive way. Chicken Kiev, for instance, or flank steak with an elaborate marinade. By sticking to quality, but low-cost, ingredients, you’ll please your guests, and by cooking it in an out-of-the-ordinary way, you’ll impress them, too. Serve a modest-size main dish and make more than enough side dishes (a vegetable and a starch, preferably) so that the extra-hungry guests in your group have something else to munch on when it’s time for seconds.
When it comes to drinks, stick to affordable beverages so you can get a few kinds to satisfy everyone’s tastes without breaking the bank.
Add Low-Cost Fun
Instead of making the entire night focused on food, switch gears halfway through the night and introduce a fun activity that all your guests can participate in. That way, you don’t have to keep serving food and drinks for your guests to stick around into the wee hours. Try a game night, a regular poker dinner party or a movie on your own TV. A game of horseshoes in the backyard is fun, too, if it’s warm enough outside to play.
The bottom line is, friends gathering is always fun if there’s joy and fun happening. The rest is just details, so why spend so much on it?