Hosting dinners at your place is a great idea. But what if you have a limited budget? Fortunately, with a little advance planning, there are tons of ways of having a great get-together while avoiding spending a ton of money.
Here are five ideas to inspire you.
Make it a potluck
Potlucks have become increasingly popular in the last few years. You already know the formula: everyone brings a dish. However, you can make things a little different. For example, you can ask everyone to bring a dish from a particular country, or a specific color.
There’s also no need to bring a special gift for the host(ess) of the evening, since you’ll already be contributing to the dinner.
Choose something else than a dinner
Yes, it’s called a “dinner party”, but why be so literal? You’re probably aware that dinner is the most expensive meal. You can have appetizers, soup, salad, and dessert. The meal itself is often centered around meat or fish (and that’s excluding wine and beer).
Instead, why not invite people over for lunch or brunch? You’ll end up serving less expensive dishes, as well as lighter and healthier ones (fruits, vegetables, eggs, home-made pastries, etc.). Dishes served during the day, especially brunch, use meat as an ingredient, instead of using it as the main one. For drinks, it can be as simple as serving a good cup of coffee, tea or juice.
Pick a theme
To avoid spending on a huge five-course meal, you can create a theme that justifies organizing, say, a cocktail party. And how about tapas or appetizers? You could also offer a small selection of wine, or pick a particular ingredient to center your night around (chocolate, anyone?). The idea is to make a theme for your dinner that explains what you’ll be serving, in an interesting way.
If you live close to your friends, you can take the opportunity or organize a “progressive” dinner. Each participant is assigned a specific dish (salad for the first person, soup for the second, entrée for third, etc.). Each dish is served at someone else’s place, and everybody moves around from one place to the next.
Of course, it takes a little more planning to pull off this kind of dinner party, but by moving around, you’ll be able to better digest and move a little. It’s even better if you can walk between places (no need to have a designated driver).
Doing it yourself will end up being much cheaper than buying ready-to-eat dishes like pre-washed salads or pre-cooked meals. The more you do yourself, the more you’ll save.
There’s no need to go all extravagant with your dishes. Stick to basic ingredients, and bet instead on one or two key elements where you’ll spend some money and time.
You don’t even have to buy specific ingredients either. If you have some food in your fridge but are not sure what to do with it, you can check online recipes to combine and optimize.
What are some of your tips when it comes to saving money while still receiving people at home?