As you move into your mid-to-late twenties, there will be just two words on everybody’s lips — dinner party. While you may squirm at the idea of being a real adult and hosting a party like this, it’s inevitable. No matter how hard you fight against this next step of your life, it’s coming to get you one social occasion at the time.
One of the major things that troubles people when it comes to dinner parties is the cost. Make no mistake here, you don’t want this little event to cost you a small fortune. And it could. So, how can you cut corners and keep things cheap? Well, here are some tips.
1. Create some online invitations
Obviously, you don’t want to waste your hard earned cash on getting specially designed and printed out invites. While these types of invitations add a little pizazz to your event, they are not at all necessary. When you’re on a budget, that kind of thing is just out of the question. But wait, what if you want to make the invitations personal without breaking the bank? Well, we might just have the answer.
There are a couple of places online where you can design your very own e-invites and send them out to your contact list. One of the best is Punchbowl. The site allows you to create your own invite in three simple steps and send it to your friends’ email accounts for free! There are a load of designs to choose from (which you can search by category!) and then all you have to do is add the details in of your event. Easy.
Of course, failing this idea, you can always create a Facebook event to let your friends know that you’re hosting a dinner party. But, somehow, there is something less-than-classy about inviting people to a fancy soiree over social media. Then again, it’s 100% your call.
2. Buy your alcohol in bulk
It just wouldn’t be a dinner party without one key ingredient… a load of booze. After all, the very last thing you want or need is for your party to run dry. It just won’t do to have your guests running down to the local offy to grab some extra bottles of wine, am I right?
There’s just one problem. Alcohol can be seriously expensive. That’s a given! When you’re buying in booze for a party, though, you need to make sure that you do just one simple thing. Get it in bulk. If you’ve never bought wine by the crate before, now might well be the time to start doing so.
Many wine companies have an introductory offer, which you can take advantage of. For example, right now, Virgin Wines are offering half price new customers bundle. That means that you can nab your first box of wine with a handy £59.88 off. Genius.
(Pro tip: Make sure that you don’t sign up to the full subscription package — unless you want to — or you will end up paying on a monthly basis!)
Oh, and keep an eye on the 10ways Facebook page as we often post bulk deals on there when they come around! You never know, you might just get lucky.
3. Decorate the dinner table cheaply
When it comes to your dinner party, one of the things that you absolutely have to make sure of is that the table looks the part. This does not have to be expensive by any means! You can easily do a load of it for free. Simple things like making sure that the places are set when the guests arrive and that you have both water and wine glasses out could make all the difference. Here are some other tips:
- Cheap centrepieces
You can make some quick centrepieces that won’t cost you a thing. Popping some stones into a large vase will look minimal and sophisticated. No one has to know that the stones are from your garden.
- Place setting cards
Adding place cards to the table will make the entire thing look just a little more sophisticated than it otherwise would. You don’t have to pay for these things! Instead, head to Free Printable where there’s an array of freebie card settings you can print off at home.
Obviously, you will want to cover your table with a cloth so it looks all fancy. Unless you plan on hosting a whole load of soirees in the future, you needn’t invest in a special cloth. Instead, you can grab yourself a paper one from most local supermarkets. Much of the time, these things can cost as little as 50p which is ideal as they are disposable.
4. Cook an affordable main
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When it comes to cooking the main course, you don’t want to make the mistake of cooking a main that costs you way too much. Sure, you want to make sure that you impress your guests, but you needn’t go overboard. Some of the simplest ingredients can be cooked up to make some of the tastiest dishes out there.
Veggie meals or chicken-based dishes are likely to be cheapest as it’s the meat that really does push the cost up when it comes to cooking. It’s worth taking a look at what affordable recipes you can find online. Of course, you also want to go out there and look for reduced items in supermarkets and the like. (Keep an eye on our page for deal updates!)
5. Try the ‘pot luck’ trick
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Traditionally, when someone hosts a dinner party, they are responsible for making the entire meal. That means all three courses. Of course, cooking a starter, main, and dessert is going to be a major drain on your funds. That’s where the ‘pot luck’ idea comes into play.
So, how does this work? Well, it actually means that the guests have to chip in and help. It’s basically the dinner party equivalent of ‘bring your own booze.’ It might sound a little cheeky, but you do need to ask people to bring something for the event itself. So long as you provide the main course, you needn’t feel too bad about asking for contributions.
Usually, when people use the ‘pot luck’ method, they tend to just ask people to bring something. Why not make it a little more straightforward, though? You can make a list of things that you need for the dinner party. For example, you might want someone to bring a starter, a dessert, a side, and a drink. If you send that out, everyone can choose which they want to bring so you have more than you need.
6. Make some fancy chips and dip
Spoiler: When your guests arrive, they might be starving!
There are people out there (you know who I’m talking about) who won’t eat all day when they have a dinner party to go to. While it means that they have plenty of room for food, it also means that they are super hungry when they arrive. Super hungry = super moody.
If you want to solve just this problem, we have the answer. Why not make some fancy nachos? The key here is that the nachos can be super cheap (literally, you can grab them from Aldi or Lidl… it doesn’t matter where). It’s the sides that make it look posh, not the chips themselves.
Next, you need to put all your sides or toppings in little dishes around the table. Include things like jalapenos, salsa, guac, sour cream etc. None of the above cost the earth, but when you display them in the right way, it will make all the difference.
Buy: Chip and dip bowls
7. Be a little hipster… no, really
Say what you want about hipsters, but they know how to do things on the cheap. When it comes to your dinner party, perhaps you should take a little inspiration from them here are there. One of the biggest trends of the last five years has been using weird and wonderful things as plates and glasses. For example, washing up some old jam jars and popping a cocktail in them is now considered seriously classy. Who knew? Here are some other ways hipstering it up could save you cash:
- Recycled food
Creating tasty dishes from cheap ingredients that you bought from local suppliers or even picked on a ramble will save you cash. What’s more, it will mean that you stand out from the crowd and be super smug about what you serve people.
- Vintage decorations
Heading to a local vintage shop (or, let’s be real, charity shop) means that you can pick up a load of decorations for your table for next to nothing. You might use an Indian throw as your tablecloth or some old school teacups as drinks glasses.
- Natural decor
Whether it’s picking your own flowers or popping a branch in the centre of the table and calling it art, there are many ways that you can get some free decorations. Head out on a walk and see what you can find for yourself.
So, how will you be saving your pennies for your next dinner party? Let us know!