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How to Host the Perfect Dinner Party on Any Budget

jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline PaumierGuest Blogger
June 02, 2016 · 2.8k Views

Often times our social life seems to take a backseat while watching our budget. It seems like bars and restaurants get more expensive every day, and there may be other priorities that need the extra cash. Skip the $18 sushi roll and enjoy a memorable evening at home with friends and family. Entertaining doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal, in fact, you may be surprised to find just how little you can spend on your dream night in.

There are a number of affordable recipe ideas and creative do-it-yourself decorations that will leave your guests impressed and talking about your party for months. Forward planning is always the best way to stick to your budget. By picking up smaller items little by little you will find yourself fully prepared come party day.

Check out some of the tips below to help you plan your most spectacular (and affordable) dinner party yet.


1. Upcycle decorations

You don’t need to splurge on expensive vases and candles to set the mood, your inspiration can be found right in your recycling bin. Spray paint old wine bottles or mason jars for perfectly color coordinated floral centerpieces.  For even more elegant décor, try floating small tea candles in wine glasses, glass bowls, or even your bath tub.

SEE ALSO: Check out Michaels Coupon Tips That Will Help You Rule the DIY World, and don't forget to bring your Michaels coupons from DealsPlus!

2. Set the mood

Source: The Tennessee Tribune

When it comes to setting the mood, there’s no need for elaborate tricks. The right playlist and a clean home will always do the trick. Make sure you set aside some time to tidy up and switch on a free music site like Spotify or Pandora. Remember, you want your guests to feel comfortable and at ease, not like they’ve walked into a museum.

3. Pick a fun theme

Picking the right theme can actually save you time and money. Themes like fondue night and “make your own pizza” night, saves you the hassle of cooking ahead and doesn’t require buying too many overpriced ingredients. Try this one: for you next dinner party, invite everyone over for a bruschetta bar night. Simply lay out slices of toasted French bread and your favorite toppings such as cheese, deli meat, caramalized onions, grilled corn, or balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The toppings are all affordable, and gives your guests the chance to get creative and tap into their inner Julia Child.

4. Take it outside

Source: Fiestah Blog

As the weather gets warmer, there’s nothing like dining out in the yard. Grab some tree lights, a large folding table and the BBQ and get to it. Make the evening even more affordable by turning it to a potluck, which is generally better received for more casual outdoor dining.  

5. The right dishes

If you are confident enough in your cooking skills, there are plenty of dishes to serve that are impressive and affordable. Meals like risotto, gnocchi, pasta carbonara, or even stuffed mushrooms won’t break the banks come food shopping time while still making any dinner party seem upscale.

 Sur la Table has some great options for plating your beautiful dishes. Check out our Sur la Table coupons!

6. Around the world

Source: New York Food

Have adventurous friends? Try recipes from cultures whose cooking is both exotic and affordable. Ethiopian, Indian, or even Creole recipes will liven up the party and expose you and your guests to something new.

7. Make it ahead

Save time and stress by making decorations and food in advance. Most food and sauces can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in the fridge. This is the same for most doughs and tart shells. Not only will this give you more time to take care of yourself before guests come over, but you’ll also shave lots of time off of cleaning up.

8. Go for warehouse alcohol

Source: Clarion Ledger

Alcohol is often the priciest area of entertaining. Save some cash by purchasing warehouse alcohol in bulk.

Check out Costco coupons to save even more on your warehouse alcohol.

9. It’s all about the details

When in doubt, remember it’s the little details that matter. Download and print creative place holders, add simple touches to napkin rings or design your own personalized menus with clever meal names inspired by the guests. Simple gestures go a long way.

10. Goody goody

Think goody bags are only for kid’s parties? Think again! Give your guests a little something to remember the evening with adult gift bags. One clever idea is to give your guest “hang over kits” by packaging up some water, advil, breakfast bars and ear plugs!


Need extra entertaining ideas? Try the recipe below for a classy appetizer perfect for any budget.

Cucumber Bites with Salmon

Source: Baker By Nature


  • 2 Large Cucumbers, thinly sliced (about 24 slices)

  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise

  • ¼ cup Sour Cream

  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder

  • ½ Large Lemon (Juiced)

  • 24 tbsp worth of Smoked Salmon

  • Chives (for garnish)

Cooking Directions

  1. Thinly slice cucumbers and soak in salt water, then add to a sheet pan and allow to dry. 
  2. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder and lemon juice in a bowl, and mix well.
  3. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag and gently add mix onto each cucumber slices.
  4. Arrange cucumber onto serving tray.
  5. Top cream cheese mixes with smoked salmon.
  6. Allow to sit in the refrigerator until time to serve.
  7. Sprinkle some chive on top to garnish and enjoy!


jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline is a modern day gypsy, who has lived in several countries and has traveled to over 20. A sucker for all things pleasing to the senses; her world revolves around food (any and all food), foreign indie films, and salsa music. The first to jump off a waterfall and the last to say no to sushi, she has been described as a bit of an “extremist”. In her perfect world, no one ever spells “cool” as “kool” and Ryan Gosling has more tattoos. She enjoys spending her free time in her New Orleans home with her Cubano guitarist husband and 1-year-old son.

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