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Entertaining family, friends, and neighbors is a great way to stay connected to your community all year round. Whether it is during the dog days of summer with a backyard BBQ or cookout or during the cooler months of fall for a fall harvest potluck. Oh and do not forget the end of the year holidays when there are so many opportunities to host a holiday-themed party such as Secret Santa, ugly sweater parties, or white elephant gift exchanges. Playing host or hostess can be a really good time, but hosting a gathering of people can also really add up, which means your wallet can take a hit. Between beverages, decorations, and food, there is a lot to account for when entertaining guests no matter what time of the year it is. Do not let a budget or fear of breaking the bank stop you from hosting and having a fun time with your crew. Here are ten tips for entertaining on a budget.
Add Accent Pieces
When entertaining on a budget, it may be tempting to blow your entire budget on supplies for a Pinterest-perfect tablescape, but keep it simple. After all, less is more. There is something to be said about a few accent pieces to keep the overall setting and vibe classy yet with a touch of elegance. Keep table settings straightforward and uncomplicated. Add a few accent pieces from Mother Nature with a flower at each place setting or a sprig of fresh rosemary from your backyard garden. You can even shop the local thrift shops for new place settings and tablecloths.
Appetizers are a lot less expensive to bake and cook up than an actual sit-down dinner meal, so if you are looking for one easy way to cut down on entertaining expenses, keep it to appetizers only. You will still want to have one or two heartier appetizers on your menu so guests are not feeling peckish all night nibbling away on chips and dip, so make up some mini meatballs in the slow cooker or serve up a plate of sliders for guests to enjoy. You can also serve up some steamed dumplings from brands like MìLà and include a variety of savory and sweet dipping sauces for all of your guests to enjoy.
Take some pressure off of yourself as the host or hostess and do not be afraid to assign dishes to guests. When someone calls or texts asking, “What can I bring?” jump on it and ask them to bring whatever you may need for the party. Bags of ice, disposable cups, and even another appetizer like a cheese tray or fruit platter can go a long way, so do not hesitate to ask for help.
One of the biggest expenses to entertaining, especially on a budget, is when it comes to beverages like alcohol. Instead of breaking the bank on a bunch of bevies, have guests BYOB. That means everyone can bring their favorite beer, cocktail, or bottle of wine such as Avaline or Blue Bin. Be sure to have at least one bottle of white like a Sauvignon Blanc and at least one bottle of red like a Pinot Noir on hand for guests to enjoy. Sip, sip, hooray!
Consider Homemade vs. Store Bought
Although it is always a proud moment when you can say you homemade that bowl of hummus from scratch, sometimes by the time you purchase every individual ingredient for a recipe and actually take the time to make it, you may be spending more than you bargained for than if you would have just purchased store-bought from brands like Ithaca. Take the time to figure out what you want to serve and if it is economically and financially makes more sense to purchase something from the store as opposed to making it yourself homemade.
Cue the Charcuterie
Another easy way to entertain on a budget is to make a handcrafted charcuterie board. Grab whatever bread, crackers, and pretzels you have on hand in the kitchen pantry. Then cut up some cheese and add a few stacks of meat slices with an assortment of accent pieces like dried fruit and nuts, and viola - charcuterie. Have some plant-based options on hand too for Vegan and vegetarian guests from brands like GOOD PLANeT's Olive Oil Cheese.
Baking, cooking, and purchasing food in bulk is a lot less expensive than making individual dishes, so keep it simple and serve it up family style. After all, if you are gathering together with family, friends, and neighbors who are already just as close as a family then you will be creating a more close-knit setting that mirrors the close relationships you already have among your group.
Keep It Alcohol-Free
Alcohol can really add up, so make your party an alcohol-free event. Get creative with mocktails instead of cocktails or reach for alcohol-free options like De Soi, a line of sparkling, ready-to-drink non-alcoholic aperitifs. If beer is more on-brand for you and your guests, stock the coolers with alcohol-free beer options like Partake Brewing and Rationale Brewing.
Make It a Progressive Dinner
If a bunch of your neighbors also want to host a festive get-together, but are conscious of their budget, suggest a progressive dinner. Each house is responsible for one course on the menu. Think of things like cocktails, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and desserts. Of course, you do not need that many courses, but you can plan it out depending on how many participants you have. That way, everyone is only responsible for one course only. You can coordinate however you like and that means cutting out the entree course if budgets do not allow for it. It is basically a design-your-own dinner kind of deal!
Showcase Side Dishes
The price of protein like meat and seafood can really add up, so instead of making meat the main dish, serve it up by showcasing it in side dishes. Instead of serving individual steaks to guests, grill up one large steak and serve it as fajitas for guests to grab and enjoy.
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