Even in these tough economic times, it’s hard to quell a natural-born host. No party is more memorable, intimate, and fun than a home-cooked meal shared with friends or family. You don’t have to break the bank with fancy ingredients or a room full of flowers. Impress your guests and go easy on your wallet with these fabulous and frugal dinner party tips.
Use ingredients that are fabulous and frugal (Yes, they do exist)
Pricey ingredients like prime rib, foie gras, or caviar, while delicious, aren’t necessary for making a big impression on your guests. Instead, find items that are out of the ordinary rather than expensive. Quinoa and farro appear on dinner tables less frequently than rice or potatoes, and can be found in most supermarkets for an affordable price. Use grains often relegated to breakfast, like grits or a savory oatmeal. Pair with cheap cuts of meat that can be braised until they’re pull apart tender like pork shoulder or beef chuck roast. Add two or three kinds of vegetables of different colors for visual appeal.
Limit your guest list
For cocktail parties where light hors d'oeuvres are served, it’s realistic to have ten or more guests. For dinner parties, a guest list of four to six is manageable, and will result in a more enjoyable experience for everyone. With less people, there’s less food and wine to buy, and as the host, you’ll be able to have higher quality conversations with each one of your guests instead of being spread too thin.
Skip the pricey decor
There’s no debating the appeal of a roomful of flowers. They add color, texture, and fragrance. However, for all their benefits, they can be expensive. Rather than going to a florist, look to your own backyard for inspiration. If there’s nothing in bloom, get creative with branches or leaves. Candles are another low cost alternative. They can be bought cheaply at any discount store, and in a dimly lit room, burning candles of various sizes can be just as breathtaking as a week’s salary worth of flowers.
Don’t splurge on wine
While some oenophiles may disagree, it’s not difficult to find a delicious wine for under twenty dollars. Look for Spanish reds which tend to be light, pleasurably palatable, and complimentary to most dishes, but without the sticker shock. How much you spend can be your little secret as your guests revel in the tastes sensations of blackberry, honeysuckle, wood, or whatever other abstract flavors spring to mind.
Don’t let budget limitations keep you from enjoying special occasions with those closest to you. With these tips, your guests will feel as if they’ve been wined and dined at a Michelin star rated restaurant. Remember to be careful; they may want to make a standing reservation at your home, but for the natural-born host, that’s never a problem.