Sick and tired of the pizza and video game parties you keep throwing, but don’t have a lot of money to splurge on fancy dinner parties? Don’t worry, we’re here to rescue you from all those greasy nights and hungover mornings.
We’ve got a simple way for you to be the adult you are and start throwing more elegant parties, even if you are a broke adult. When it comes to cutting down expenses, a lot of money can be saved by doing a lot of things yourself. It might require a little bit more effort than normal, but if you make a plan and pace it out, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
It may just be a once in a while type of thing, but it will definitely give you a different kind of experience to share with your closest friends. Here’s how you can throw a fancy dinner party without spending too much money:
1. Guest List & Invites
A fancy dinner party means a limited guest list. Pick only your closest, classiest friends and keep the number of guests below 10-12 (or how many ever chairs you have available at your dinner table).
Also, an elegant dinner party needs elegant invitations. In the past, this would mean printouts and fancy envelopes, which means extra money. But lucky for you, you live in the age of technology. So design an invitation on your computer (or ask a friend if your design skills amount to zero), and email them out to your guests. Make sure to specify that the party is smart casual, so that your guests can come dressed appropriately.
2. Keep it Simple
A lot of the time, keeping something classy has more to do with what you don’t do. So don’t overdo it with gaudy decorations, don’t overcrowd the table, and don’t put on harsh lighting.
Dim lights and a few candles placed at the center of the table will set the mood perfectly. Pick a plain colored table cloth, and napkins of a contrasting color. Make your own place cards out of design paper and cursive writing (if you’re terrible at cursive, you could print the letters out and trace them). Also print out menus and place them on the plates for an added elegant touch.
3. Set out Appetizers
A fancy dinner party should always start with a spread of appetizers. Have them set out before your guests arrive. Make your own appetizers at home to save money. There are plenty of recipes online that you can prepare in advance and also do not cost much. For example, things like meatballs on a stick (use up offcuts of your meat from the main), bruschetta (bread, tomatoes, olive oil), etc, are really easy to make and the ingredients are cheap as well!
4. Classic Combinations
A classy dinner needs to have classy food, so keep away from the crazy exotic dishes and foods with obscure names. Picking simple, classic dishes is your key to have the most elegant, yet cheapest spread. Something like chicken is the best when it comes to taste and being budget-friendly. Pair a well seasoned and spiced chicken breast with some vegetables and you’ve got yourself a winner!
You will also need to make sure you take time in doing the prep work. If you aren’t skillful with the knife, you’d be better off buying the pre-cut varieties at the supermarket. But, keep in mind that those do cost extra, so maybe you could start practicing at home.
5. Give it a Twist
Sure, we said to stick to the classics, but there’s nothing wrong with giving he classic a small, yet digestible twist. For example, instead of serving plain old mash potatoes, why not try a sweet potato mash or a celeriac mash? Instead of chicken breast, confit some chicken thighs (not as difficult as it sounds, and definitely way tastier). It’s different enough that it piques the interest, but familiar enough that it doesn’t veer off into gimmicky-territory.
6. It’s All in the Plating
Cooking tasty food is one thing, making it look elegant on the plate is something entirely different. Since we’re trying to cut corners wherever possible, we’d say use plain white plates (or any other light color). Steer clear of those with designs on them as it can look tacky.
Visualize all the components that need to go on the plate, make yourself a little diagram, and maybe even practice plating them up a couple different ways beforehand to pick the best one. And remember to keep it clean; don’t overload the plate, and wipe up any spills. You’d be amazed to find out that anything can look fancy if plated the right way!
A fancy dinner should always have three or more courses. If you do not count the appetizers, that would make entree, mains, and desserts. If it sounds like too much work, you could skip the entree, but it could be something as simple as a soup (which you can make the day before).
Once mains have been sorted, think about dessert. It needs to be something that will plate beautifully, but also something you can prepare earlier, so as to make your life a lot easier. Something like a chocolate lava cake can be made and stored in the fridge, and baked off a few minutes before serving. Or you could make pudding, chocolate mousse, panna cotta, or any number of desserts that are cooked/plated in advance, and only need to served and devoured on the night of!
8. DIY Decor
Keeping it simple doesn’t mean everything has to be boring. Simple things like a ribbon bow around the cutlery and a few slices of lemon in your water jug can make a big difference.
Also, any good dinner table should have a nice centerpiece, even if it isn’t much. Here are a few simple, yet elegant DIY ideas for a table centerpiece.
Wine Glass Candle Lampshade
Pomander Flower Ball