I didn’t realize it until recently, but I am a hostess at heart.
I grew up in Texas, and there is a reason it’s called “Southern hospitality,” because there are still vestiges there of a time when you wouldn’t dream of inviting someone into your home without offering them a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea and a slice of whatever it is you’ve been baking lately.
It’s just what you do. Plus, that kind of “food equals love” mentality has been ingrained in me since childhood—mostly in a good way!—so that my favorite way to tell friends and family that they are important to me is to whip them up something special to eat.
Entertaining doesn’t have to mean a big party, though it can. It just means having some people over and providing them with a little food and drink. And I’ve figured out a few tips to make entertaining on a budget easier, whether you’re serving two or two hundred.
Entertaining on a Budget
- Unless you’re hosting sommeliers, inexpensive wine is no sin. When shopping, tell the clerk at the wine store your budget and stick to it. Taste tests have shown you can get a tasty bottle for $10 as often as you can for $50.
- Cocktails can also be a way to stretch your drinks dollars. Try mixing budget bubbly, like Prosecco or Cava (instead of champagne) with fresh fruit juices.
- Or, mix up a pitcher of one signature cocktail for the evening to save you from playing bartender all night (and from stocking a full bar).
- Serve slices of baguette instead of crackers with your cheese plate. Much more economical. And you can easily find domestic varieties of Parmesan, Gouda, and cheddar that will be crowd pleasers.
- Raid the olive bar at your supermarket for a simple antipasti plate.
- SIMPLIFY when it comes to the main course. Try one-dish meals like pasta, or this gorgeous fig prosciutto flatbread I served at a casual get together recently. Served with a simple salad, that’s really all you need.
- Try a brunch gathering (eggs are cheaper than steak, after all!) to keep things casual and inexpensive.
- Opt for inexpensive cuts of meat. My slow-cooker pork recipe easily feeds a crowd for far less than you’d pay for pork tenderloin.
- Keep dessert as simple as possible. Unless you’re hosting a birthday, where a fancy cake is de rigeur, try breaking up a bar of good chocolate and serving it with fresh fruit. Or dish good store-bought gelato into tiny cups ahead of time and keep them frozen until time to serve. Everything tastes better eaten with a tiny spoon.
And an announcement…
I absolutely adore parties and party food, so I’ve actually started a new blog called Tea Nibbles entirely dedicated to tea party food and party food of all kinds. My friend Butter from Hunger and Thirst will also be contributing, and we plan to party with abandon over there, so please give it a look and let us know what you think!
Do you have a tip for entertaining on a budget? Leave a comment below and let us know!
(Photos in this post by FORK Social Lab!)