Today’s guest post 3 Ways to Throw a Cheap and Easy Dinner Party comes from one of my favorite up and coming bloggers, Miguel, The Rich Miser! Miguel S. is a Florida lawyer residing in beautiful Miami. On his blog, Miguel and his wife Lily share practical tips, life hacks, and product reviews to help you live well for less.
I always chuckle when I watch those shows on Home and Garden TV (HGTV) where the featured couple is hunting for a new house (or planning a remodel of an older house), and someone says “we love to entertain!” I chuckle because my wife Lily and I love to entertain too, but neither of us loves the expenses that come along with it.
As anyone who has thrown a dinner party knows, costs quickly add up, and can easily surpass $100, even for a relatively small party. Have 10 or more guests or throw a big barbecue, and you can easily approach $1,000 spent. Consider some of the things you might need:
- Drinks: Beer, plus wine and spirits.
- Some kind of meat and dinner sides.
- Bags of ice.
- Disposable plates, cups, and utensils.
And knowing human nature, people will consume a lot, because it’s free. I mean, we all love our friends, but we tend to do this to each other because we can’t help ourselves…
Well, don’t despair, because the alternative is to stop inviting people over! I’ve got you covered with 3 tips that will help you not only reduce your costs, but also make your party planner life easier. And bonus, your guests are unlikely to notice the shortcuts. Let’s check ’em out:
- “Step Down” the Wine and Spirits
The more inebriated we get, the less detail-oriented and observant we are, right? Take advantage of that.
Before the dinner party, buy the wine, but with a plan. The idea is to serve the best stuff first and, as people get more sauced, “step down” to cheaper (not necessarily lower quality) wines. For example, if you’re going to buy 6 bottles, get three $20 bottles, three $15 bottles, and three $10 bottles.
(Side note from Cubert: Or, if you’re super cheap like me, start right off the bat with an array of two or three high-class Bota Boxes, tapped and ready to pour!)
Even for the cheaper wines, go for obscure European labels. Look for French and Spanish stuff, since people tend to perceive it as high-quality. Most won’t notice the price difference when you open the bottles, and won’t be able to tell on taste, either. Plus, they’ll be happy and tipsy, and probably won’t be paying that much attention, unless they’re big wine snobs. And who needs friends like that anyhow??
If someone calls you out, just admit that the wines looked good and that you wanted to serve some variety. (Cubert: And then ask them when was the last time THEY hosted a party?)
- Buy Pre-made Dinner Sides
You know the expression “Where’s the beef?” It’s because the beef is what matters, Wendy. Dinner sides are mostly an afterthought. They’re put there to make the plate look full. Generally, they’re cheap carbs. That doesn’t mean they should suck, but it does mean that they won’t be the focus of people’s attention.
So, unless you have a compelling reason to spend time and effort making the dinner sides, don’t do it. Just go to a cafeteria-type place and buy one or two big trays of tasty rice or other sides, and let your guests have it. Think about it, when people rave about the food at an awesome dinner party, how often are they focused on rice or potatoes?
I love Caribbean and Latin American rice and root vegetables. So, here in Miami, I’ll head out to my nearest El Palacio de Los Jugos (a cafeteria-type place with huge trays of food) and buy a party-sized serving of Cuban rice and yucca. They’re cheap, taste good, and save me lots of time and money.
- Have the Guests Bring Dessert
Owing to their good manners, most guests will bring something to your party. Some will ask you what you want, and some won’t (oftentimes bringing wine and spirits). Take advantage when you’re asked, and tell them to bring things you need, such as desserts.
Good desserts can be relatively expensive, and most of us won’t be baking cakes or making the effort. So just have the guests bring them! You can usually get one or two big cakes, pies, or pastries this way, saving you time and money. Plus, if they’re bad, it’s not your fault 😉
Throwing a dinner party or barbecue to remember doesn’t have to mean a thousand-dollar investment on your part. With these 3 tips, you can have happy guests who’ll leave your house will full bellies and fond memories, looking forward to the next soiree.
Here’s to your next dinner party!
How about you? Any cheap and easy dinner party ideas you’d like to share? Please comment below!