Hosting a Dinner Party on a Budget

DIY, events, lifestyle

This past weekend I hosted a dinner party that doubled as a “Sip ‘N See” for my best friend Melissa.  For those who don’t know what a “Sip ‘N See” is, it’s a little post baby shower. So you can SEE the baby while SIPPIN’ on some champagne to celebrate the momma and babe! My friend Melissa just had her third daughter, Lucia Rey and she is absolutely perfect!

LUCIAREY8

Ever since my husband and I bought our house a couple years ago, I’ve dreamt of hosting beautiful backyard dinners under the stars and dreamy restaurant lights but the down side of buying a fixer-upper house that you are working on yourself is that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is a slow work in progress. And if there’s one thing I learned in this process of fixing up your own home is that no matter how much you put things on a timeline, everything takes 3 times as long and house work is always delayed by other house projects that take precedent or sometimes, life just happens–like having a toddler and running a floral business. So in the midst of working on my flower studio, that’s where I hosted our dinner, I wanted to give my 200% in this but without spending a crazy amount of money on it because 1-gotta save up for finishing my flower studio remodel 2-life still goes on and gotta pay the everyday necessities. However, when it comes to hosting a party, you do spend some money and I LOVE HOSTING PARTIES, which means I spend money. However, I’m a firm believer that the amount of money that you spend does not measure the amount of love you have for whoever you are throwing the party for. So I’m here to share some tricks and secrets to throwing a party on a budget!

LUCIAREY2

Almond sponge cake with cream cheese frosting topped with light powder sugar and fresh flowers. Tip: fresh flowers make everything better! Disclaimer: this cake was not made of scratch so don’t ask me for the recipe LOL. But it sure was freaking good!

Tip #1: Plan ahead!

I planned what style of dinner based upon what I could work with in my backyard.  What I like to do is type up a list.  Yes, I’m a list person.  I enjoy writing things down and checking them off. It gives me great satisfaction. So I wrote a list of: foods that I wanted to prepare and the ingredients that is needed, decor/floral arrangements and the flowers that I need to purchase, table top decor and what cutlery and plates I needed and etc. But planning ahead, I also anticipated the warm weather that we were going to have.  Although, what I didn’t anticipate was the power outage I had hours before the party started and my son thinking it was a great idea to take off his poopy diaper and streak around the house that I just finished cleaning. But hey, these things happen and by planning ahead, you are able to eliminate a lot of unknowns and stress.

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You are going to thank me for this, so I’m just gonna say it…You’re welcome. HONEY BUTTER SPREAD: so simple, yet soon good! Leave a stick of butter to soften then mix with a heck TON of raw honey! And Voila! The most yummiest spread ever on crackers or fresh sliced rolls!

Tip #2: What do you already have that you can use?

As I went through my list, I was able to see what I already had versus what I needed. This helps you cut a lot of costs because sometimes when you plan things last minute and you can’t find what you need, you end up buying it and then finding whatever it was you needed the next day.  Also, get creative and resourceful with what you do have.  IE: I didn’t have enough cheese boards so I used my wood cutting boards as extra cheeseboards since those things can get expensive!

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I used my cutting boards as extra cheese boards.

Tip #3 Food Prep

I tried to choose foods that are easy to make (because homegirl ain’t no chef!) and that everyone can enjoy.  I also kept in mind that it was warm outside so a cold pasta summer salad was perfect! Keep in mind how many people you are prepping for and budget accordingly.  I was feeding 11 adults + 6 kids and although that’s not a huge party, there were husbands involved which means that men eat more than women (lol) so making more was necessary. Also, I have such gracious friends and I got them involved too.  They all helped pitch in with wine, salads, fruits and the appetizer spread.  That eased a lot off my plate (no pun intended) and wallet! Depending on what type of dinner party you are hosting, get your friends involved! I’m so lucky to have friends that love helping and wanting to be involved to making this dinner easy for me and perfect for my friend Melissa!

Cold Italian organic pasta: Trader Joe's whole wheat organic pasta noodles, dry salami, marinated mozzarella balls, heirloom tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, sweet purple onion, fresh minced garlic, EVOO, fresh squeezed lemon, and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together and BAM! Yummy salad! You can also add grilled zucchini and olives too!

Cold Italian organic pasta: Trader Joe’s whole wheat organic pasta noodles, dry salami, marinated mozzarella balls, heirloom tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, sweet purple onion, fresh minced garlic, EVOO, fresh squeezed lemon, and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together and BAM! Yummy salad! You can also add grilled zucchini and olives too!

TIP #4 Make things easy on you

So I totally could have saved on buying plates and cutlery but the ease on using disposable plates and cutlery made everything so simple for me.  Now, don’t go thinking I didn’t do any dishes because my dishwasher still filled up at the end of the night with wine glasses and bowls and such, but knowing that I didn’t have to wash 20+ plates and forks and made the clean up process so simple! Sometimes you just have to spend a little on certain things to make your life a bit easier (pick and choose) and I thought that this was where I wanted to spend my $$ and let me tell you, it was worth it!

I bought nicer clear plastic plates from Party City and also found these vintage looking plastic cutlery! Everyone thought it was real!! I bought IKEA dish towels for $.95 as cloth napkins and cut sprigs of fresh rosemary from my neighbor's garden to add a more earthy touch. It's all in the little added details. Also-I chose dish towels so that I can reuse them afterwards for my home! WIN-WIN in my book.

I bought nicer clear plastic plates from Party City and also found these vintage looking plastic cutlery! Everyone thought it was real!! I bought IKEA dish towels for $.95 as cloth napkins and cut sprigs of fresh rosemary from my neighbor’s garden to add a more earthy touch. It’s all in the little added details. Also-I chose dish towels so that I can reuse them afterwards for my home! WIN-WIN in my book.

TIP #5 Decor

Ok, so besides food, decor will be where most of your money will be spent.  For my son’s first birthday party, I did a lot of DIY (check out his party HERE) but for a more sophisticated dinner, mainly for adults, I opted to spend a little more and do floral arrangements as my main decor.  Then at the end of the night, I gave each arrangement to each of my girlfriends as a thank you for helping and coming! I felt like this was more meaningful and the girls enjoyed this more than a bag full of pink colored M & M’s. Since I’m a florist, I do have access to a flower market up in Carlsbad, CA but for those who aren’t, I suggest buying flowers at Trader Joe’s. When I’m not doing flowers for events and I just want something fresh in the house, Trader Joe’s is where I buy my flowers. Two Reasons: 1. The price is very close to wholesale 2. Because of their lower prices, people tend to purchase more of their flowers so they are constantly restocking their flowers making them fresher than other grocery store flowers. Lastly, refer back to TIP #2. Check out what decor you have around the house that you can repurpose for your party.  I have been collecting vintage brass candlestick holders for my business so I reused those as additional decor. Don’t have fancy candlesticks? No problem! Use those amazing pillar candles or tea lights and scatter them around the table. Adding a little twinkle lighting to your table top decor can add so much ambiance! You can buy a lot of candles for a reasonable price at IKEA.

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I didn’t want to spend a ton on vases but more on flowers so I found these awesome plastic goblets from Big Lots on sale for $1!! The best part, they really didn’t look plastic at all! My girlfriends all thought they were vintage blue glass!

I really hope a few of these pointers help you all to plan a perfect dinner party without splurging too much.  Feel free to ask questions on the comments below!

 

XOXO,

Esther

Be Happy.  Be Floral!

 

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