Hosting a Dinner Party on a Budget
I love hosting dinner parties. Dinner parties are my excuse to gather my friends together and over food wine we swap stories, laugh and catch up with each other’s lives. The experience of hosting a dinner party can be frustrating as well as exhilarating, expensive and time consuming from a preparation point of view. But, the opportunity to break bread with friends and enjoy the shared experience of good wine and food is what makes life worth living. How can you put a price tag on the intangible experience of friendship, wine and food?
Hosting dinner parties more often than not fill me trepidation. I am never sure how things will turn out. Raging success or brutal failure are the only two outcomes in mind. Murphy ’s Law which dictates that if something can go wrong it will go wrong is usually in full effect. No matter how many list I make without fail I end up running back and forth to the store for yet another missing item. However, I have developed some very basic steps that keep me heading towards a successful dinner party.
The first step is your pantry. I look at what I already have and build the menu from there. The second establish a budget while being be realistic. I calculate what I can afford to spend per person so I can maximize the menu. Third step is look for what is on sale. If there is a good sale on meat, poultry or fish I pick up highest quality item at the best price. The fourth step is creating a timetable for the menu. How much prep and cooking time is needed for each part of the meal. The fifth step is prep. Anything and everything that can be prepped in advanced I prepare so that I can spend more time with my friends. The fifth step is to selecting the wines.
On the day of the dinner party I make sure my fridge is an empty as possible so I can prepare and hold foods that need to remain cold. I hack my double sink by using an extra-large cutting board I bought from Ikea creating instant extra counter space. I take out all the pots, pans serving trays and stack everything in order based on when I will need to use them. I generally like to make the most complicated parts of the menu first. Usually I try to have things ready about 1 hour before the first guest arrives. The wines are opened at least an hour before dinner because wines need to breathe. It is important to note that some wines need more than an hour to develop their full flavor. The table setting is kept simple. I like to give myself time to shower and change because I am a mess by time the cooking is done. The rest of the night is about fun and laughter.