This is a topic that weighs heavily on my mind regularly. My husband and I very much enjoy hosting dinner parties for our friends and their kids, and not just because our twins go to bed at 6:30 and we basically have half our kids to entertain and no tired, cranky littles. We bought our dream house, and it’s the perfect entertainment house; and we like to cook. Okay, my husband likes to cook and I like to wear my apron, pour wine and chop veggies and herbs in a very Food Network-like manner. However, even a simple dinner party is a lot of money.
This Friday, for example, we are hosting a dinner party with three other couples and their kids. The kids (9 of them) have requested pizza and pasta and they want to eat on the deck – so that’s easy. However, we are making filet mignon, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers for appetizers, roasted red potatoes, baked broccoli and a fresh salad. I’m also doing a cake since it was my husband’s birthday and the kids want cake (see how it’s all abou them?) and I’ve already spent $350 on dinner and I’m not done yet. Seems a bit ridiculous, right?
That’s what led me to wonder how we can possibly host dinner parties that are far more cost-effective and not such a big deal in terms of budget. It’s just friends over for dinner; so why so much? I’ve found a few ways we can all keep costs down when we entertain, and perhaps we can all learn a little something from each money-saving tip.
For one, you don’t want to be a slave to the kitchen when you have guests, so grilling is nice when the weather permits since everyone can hang out outside and enjoy while you cook. Additionally, you can get away with something really inexpensive such as chicken kabobs with red peppers, green peppers and onion. That’s hardly a cost at all. Additionally, you can cut up some pineapple, stick cubes of that on a kabob and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, grill for a few minutes and have a very inexpensive, but amazing dessert.
Choose Simple Sides
It might sound counter-productive, but the simpler the meal the more amazing it usually is. It’s also far more cost-effective. For us, we are doing filet, which is simple (though costly) but we are doing easy potatoes, easy veggies and our amazing Caesar salad comes straight from a Fresh Express bag that allows me to pour all the kit pieces in a bowl and mix them up for a total of $2 per bag. I mean, it’s really easy. We can go cheaper, but we chose not to this time.
Slow cooker meals are always easy, pizza that’s homemade with lots of fresh options is always good, and there are plenty of other meals people love and adore that don’t cost much money.
Pick a Signature Drink
Our mistake is that we try to please everyone with cocktails. However, we are big wine drinkers (though we always have our beer-rator filled) and we have the basic liquor. When we get too personal and begin purchasing wine we don’t drink because someone else might drink it, liquor we don’t drink and beer we don’t drink, we spend hundreds since everyone likes something different. Pick a signature liquor drink or two and let people enjoy those. I promise, they will drink whatever is offered to them as long as it’s free.