Basics of a budget dinner party

As a young adult with your own place you’re probably looking forward to entertaining guests. Having your friends over for some drinks and dinner can be a lot of fun. Many people think it’s extremely costly to throw a dinner party, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can have a beautiful night in with your mates, you can fill their bellies, and enjoy a laugh without dipping into your savings. Of course, food prices have gone through the roof recently so you might feel the pinch of a grocery shop. But if you’re smart about your menu choices, you’ll end up within a budget you can afford.

Don’t overdo the build up

You know what’s really unnecessary? Spending money on either printing invitations or making phone calls to invite your friends over. You can easily create a WhatsApp group or a Facebook event and invite them all that way. It’s cheap, quick, and easy to do. People don’t require a fancy invitation to become invested in your dinner party; receiving a WhatsApp or being included in a Facebook group event is more than enough for them.

Don’t make a song and dance of decor

Your friends know your living situation. If they expect more than what you can do then they’re being unfair. You don’t need silver fish knives to eat your starter hake bites. Don’t go out and purchase things for this event, but rather cook what you know you can serve. Consider dishes that match whatever crockery and cutlery you have.

And this is the time to dig deep into your mom or grandmother’s trousseau draw and ask to borrow things like table clothes and material napkins. This will save you money and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment by not making use of paper towels or napkins. Grab all the candles you can find and set those on your table. If you don’t have candelabras or holders then make use of empty beer bottles or wine bottles. Head outside and pick some flowers from your garden if possible for a table decoration. Keep it simple. Use what you have and make a plan to do without what you can’t find. Your guests want food more than they want a fancy table setting.

Find a simple theme for your food and drink

This is best, because it whittles down your options and you won’t find yourself buying unnecessary food stuffs. If you are in need of inspiration, you can look online for some quick and easy themes which will tell you exactly what food and drinks will work. Look for themes that allow you to serve easy but wholesome foods. Also, many simple themes won’t require a complicated place setting. If you choose Italian then your menu could be made up of a garlic pita as a starter to be eaten with your hands (don’t need extra crockery or cutlery), spaghetti bolognaise as a main course, and tiramisu as a desert (which sounds fancy but can be made easily on a budget).

Use what you have in your kitchen

Just about everyone I know has some staples in their kitchen that are kept but not used all that often. So if you consider the suggested theme of Italian food (above) then use the pasta and the herbs and spices you already have in your kitchen. Yes, it’d be great to have spaghetti bolognaise with spaghetti noodles, but if you have a surplus of penne then serve it with that. None of your guests will be upset, no one will judge you, and it will taste exactly the same.

Similarly, you can make tiramisu without including the fancy almond-flavoured liqueur or brandy. The booze will be flowing before and during dinner; your guests certainly won’t be upset if you don’t include even more booze in the dessert.

Let it be a potluck

Every single person you invite will likely ask you what they can bring. So with you working on a tight budget, make sure you give them an idea of what to bring. Now you can’t ask people to bring things like beef mince, or to supply the starter, but you can ask them to bring things that’ll enhance the meal. Have someone bring some cheese for the pasta and ask two of your guests to share the cost of a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy with the pasta. Or ask someone to make a green salad as an accompaniment. Let people bring their own drinks and pitch up with little snacks if they want to, because this is how you don’t end up spending too much money.

You can have a swish and swanky dinner party that won’t cost you. Throw on some smooth jazz, keep the candles lit, set your table with a jug of lemon water and water glasses for your guests, and slap a smile on your face. An impressive dinner party is easy if you keep things simple.

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