Hosting a dinner party can be as stressful as it can be exciting, particularly when you’re on a budget. In your mind, you’re probably picturing the grand tablescapes of Buckingham palace, with guests swarming under crystal chandeliers and around fine china. In reality, however, you find yourself with barely enough funds for a backyard barbecue.
You want to make a good impression on your guests while simultaneously managing your grocery and setup expenses. Fortunately, there are ways to throw an entertaining dinner party and still walk out with a few extra bucks in your wallet.
Centerpieces are the life of the table. You don’t need a fancy tablecloth, velvet runner, or antique silverware if you have a lovely centerpiece. Mason jars filled with fresh-picked flowers make beautiful summer centerpieces and are very easy to put together. If you’re hosting a more upscale event, locate a lovely candlestick holder and give it some flair by slipping some flowers onto a small wire and weaving that wire around the candlestick holder. Dinner by candlelight never fails, and antiques are encouraged for their style and their affordability. Still have that silver candlestick holder set you received as a family heirloom? Wrap a garland around it and watch it light up your entire dinner table.
Wholesale Silverware & Flatware
Unless it was handed down to you or gifted as part of your wedding registry, you probably don’t have a set of immaculate china and silverware. Fortunately, the internet saves the day. You can purchase wholesale dinnerware and flatware off of numerous websites at discounted prices and own a set that will likely last you a lifetime. While retail-priced designer silverware and flatware can sell for as high as $40-$50 per place setting, wholesale distributors often offer these for half the price (with bulk discounts available).
No need to reach for the extravagant stuff, either. Simplistically designed stainless silverware is often available at a bargain.
Make It a Potluck!
Being responsible for all of the food can be a costly feat. In fact, groceries might be the most expensive aspect of a dinner party. Ask your guests to chip in by bringing a dish. As a host, you can be responsible for the main course, and your guests can provide appetizers, side dishes, and dessert. This way, you are not requiring too much labor and expense from them either. Let’s face it: you’re already doing the prep, the hosting, and the cleanup. The least your guests can do is provide some fixings (and we assure you, they likely won’t mind as they’ll simply be grateful you’re doing most of the heavy lifting).
Consider a Tapas-Style Occasion
Just because you’re having a dinner party doesn’t mean you need to splurge on prime ribs and pork roasts. You can just as easily make it an event based on hors d’oeuvres and small bites. Tapas are easy and cheap to make. All you really need is some bread, deli meat, cheese, and veggies. Arrange these nicely onto a serving tray and watch your guests go wild. Not only are tapas great for a casual occasion, but the supplies will likely cost you $40-$50 max at the grocery store. Serve them with delicious beverages, and you’re well on your way to a dinner party success.
Unfortunately, alcohol can be even pricier than food, and you often end up buying more than you need. You never know how many of your guests will want to drink, or what kind of preferences they have for wine, beer, etc. In order to satisfy everyone’s tastes, you would need to buy a little bit of everything, which is not a feasible option if you’re reading this article. Give your party some BYOB flair! Not only does this give your occasion somewhat of a theme, but every guest will be satisfied knowing they have free reign over their beverages for the evening. At the same time, it will probably save you a good $20-$30.
This way, you don’t have to worry about accounting for guests that don’t drink. You also won’t be washed over with guilt when you poor that bottle of spoiled and unfinished red wine down the sink a few days later. You can make a BYOB event even more interesting by asking your guests to bring their favorite alcoholic beverage and describe what makes it unique and what they like about it. With these tips locked away carefully as part of your dinner party ammo, your low-budget dinner party may just end up being a fun opportunity to exercise your creativity.
Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for , a top online retailer for discount silverware and flatware products.