We all love to host a fun dinner party; nothing is better than a night filled with great friends, delicious food and wine, and lots of laughs -- in the comfort of our homes. But let's face it, while staying in can be less expensive than dining out, hosting a dinner party for you and eight of your friends can get pretty pricey. I recently held a dinner party for four couples, my boyfriend and myself included, and found that there are many creative and clever ways to throw a lavish dinner party without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas for you to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Appetizers, a Main Course, and Dessert: Think Simple Yet Satisfying.
Everyone loves a good pasta dish; fettuccine carbonara is a delicious, easy-to-make, and affordable option for the main course. Add a simple salad (Bibb lettuce, grapefruit slices, some cut-up apple, and a basic red wine or raspberry vinaigrette) along with a fresh French baguette and you've got yourself a satisfying and complete meal. For an appetizer, fill a bowl with cherry tomatoes accompanied with a side of dill dip or create a small cheese plate for sampling. For dessert, offer strawberries with whip cream with chocolate sauce drizzled on top, or strawberry parfait -- my favorite!
2. Need Wine? Go to Trader Joe's.
I love the Charles Shaw label (nicknamed "Two Buck Chuck") made from surplus wine bought in bulk (Trader Joe's; $2.00). If you don't live near Trader Joe's or want some variety, I recommend rosé wines under $10, or wine on the cheap ... without it being cheap wine. After tax, the cost of nine bottles is about $20. If you prefer a breezy summer cocktail, mix up a delicious white wine sangria. You'll need two bottles of inexpensive sangria, one liter of ginger ale or sprite, and a half container of orange juice. Throw in some slices of grapefruit, apples, and oranges and some ice, and your festive summer drink is ready to be served.
3. Table Decorations: Be Creative and Get Colorful!
If you're in need of place settings, don't go out and spend the money; instead, use a set of fun and colorful dishtowels as a substitute for place mats. If the towels are clean and ironed, they'll do the job and look just as great. As for the centerpiece, try a vase filled with lemons instead of flowers. Fresh flowers can get expensive; a large glass vase filled with bright yellow lemons (or limes) is a great affordable option. Lemons or limes add just as much color for one-third of the price.
4. Try a Potluck Dinner.
The best way to save on a dinner party is to get everyone involved. Invite your friends to a "potluck" dinner where each person brings his or her favorite dish. To avoid overlapping dishes, ask one person (or couple) to bring the crackers and cheese, another to bring the salad, another to bring the main dish, and so on. Your friends will enjoy taking part in the meal and you won't feel burdened by the cost and labor that go into a dinner party.
Enjoy and happy hosting!