You don’t have to be a media mogul or a white-collar felon to host a good dinner party. You just need good food, good drinks, and good people. Here are my tips to elevate any get together:
Use What You Have
From your normal kitchen plates to the crackers and balsamic vinegar you keep in your pantry, to the antique butter knives that got passed down from a great aunt, you likely have more than enough utensils to serve your guests and ingredients to get a menu going, even if that involves getting creative. It doesn’t have to be served on hundred dollar crystal, or made with the finest ingredients direct from France to look and taste phenomenal. Take stock of what you have before you plan anything. Will you need a cheese board? Probably not, if you have a cutting board already. Keep it simple, authentic to yourself, and your guests will appreciate it no matter what. IF you do feel the need to stock up on serving dishes and other entertainment accessories, places like HomeGoods and the local thrift are pretty much always good bets.
Consider Discount & Bulk Stores
What’s better than a 1lb log of goat cheese for $6? Not much. I recently picked one up from my local BJs and it not only lasted for the entertaining of guests, but I had it for crackers, salads, and bagels for quite a while afterwards. It’s hard to beat goat cheese, salami, and apricot jam. Stock up at places like Costco, Sams, Aldi, Lidl, and the like and you can find artisan meats and cheeses, as well as appetizers and other snacks for fairly low prices.
Diversify Your Menu
If you mix it up between the categories in which you save and spend, you can cut corners here and there without making it feel like you cheaped out anywhere. A can of crescent rolls baked with brie? Dip ’em in the jam you already have in your fridge, and you’re golden. Pair fancy prosciutto with homemade garlic bread – all you need is a grocery store baguette and some butter mixed with fresh garlic or a blend of herbs and garlic powder. Focus on a few higher ticket items, and fill the rest of the menu with less expensive things or things that are already in your pantry. Make selections from each of the different food groups, to keep your menu balanced and colorful. Provide at least one fruit, vegetable, protein, dairy, grain/bread, and something sweet to keep your guests’ appetites satiated.
Ask For Help
If you’re inviting people over, it’s not wrong to request they bring a little something along to share. Most guests would be happy to provide a bottle of wine, a cheese they love, or a unique snack that speaks to them. Include your request along with the invite, and you’ll have a variety of things to for your guests to choose from. This is especially handy if there are different dietary needs, as one is most likely to bring a food or drink to share that they could consume themselves.
Keep it Cozy
Chances are, if you’re having friends over, they’ll be relieved if you tell them to dress down for a relaxing evening. A wine night with your gals is the perfect way to unwind after a hectic week, so don’t freak out about being the hostess with the mostest, especially since you know these people are already on your team. They’ll feel less pressure too. Pop open a red and a white, light a candle or two, and crack out a board game, a deck of cards, or the latest season of American Vandal. If you’re inviting new people along, or those you want to impress, you can still keep it laid back, and everyone will feel more at-ease if you’re relaxed, no matter the occasion, so don’t stress! You got this.
What are your entertaining tips?
Kim Cornell says
These are some great tips. I agree you don't need the fanciest tableware or food to put on a great dinner party or buffet. We've held a few in the past and usually go to Aldi or Lidl for snack foods, cheese, Italian meats etc. They also offer tableware on occasion too which is great and very affordable.