Drink Budgeting in Parties

By: Greg Williams

You enjoy entertaining your family and friends, but it can be pricey to have everyone assemble at your place. There is a way that you can entertain your nearest and dearest without breaking the bank...Here's how!

Make Your Own Party Foods

Instead of ordering a deli platter with cold meats and cheeses, make your own. Buy a variety of cold cuts and roll them up before putting them on a serving platter. Pick up a number of different types of cheese and cut them into interesting shapes.

You can do the same thing with a fruit or veggie tray. Buy the items and prepare them yourself. If you are not sure how to display them, stop by a store that offers these items to get some ideas.

Put a variety of rolls (bought in bulk) into a basket and let guests serve themselves. Add a salad, and you have a meal that everyone will enjoy. If you want to serve a hot meal, then choose a rice or pasta dish. These foods are delicious without being expensive.

Dessert doesn't have to be expensive to be delicious and elegant. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream (a premium brand) into a beautiful dessert dish and serve it with cookies.

If You Serve Alcohol, Limit the Choices Available

Serving alcohol at your party will be more expensive than serving nonalcoholic beverages only. If you do decide to provide it, you can limit the choices to beer and wine only. Trying to provide several different types of hard liquor for your guests will put a dent in your pocketbook, that's for sure.

Start Entertaining After Dinner

If you invite your guests over after dinnertime, it will be a less expensive proposition. There is nothing wrong with inviting someone over to your home for coffee and dessert. If this is your choice, then do serve the best brand of coffee that you can afford.

Dessert, in this case, can be more elegant as well. You may want to consider one of the following suggestions:

• Black Forest Cake
• Cheesecake Topped with Fruit
• Carrot Cake
• Apple Pie
• Tiramisu

Another choice would be to offer your guests some fresh fruit salad, along with an assortment of cookies and squares.

Set up a table outside in your back yard or on your deck. Light some candles or start up your fire pit to create an intimate atmosphere for yourself and your guests. Visit a discount store to buy a tablecloth. If you don't own "good" china, no need to despair; go to a thrift store or a flea market to find interesting plates, cups, and saucers.

Your table may be more interesting to your guests if the place settings have complementary colors rather than each one being identical, so don't be afraid to mix and match a bit. Fresh flowers will brighten any table and give your party an air of elegance. Pick up a bouquet of bright, inexpensive blooms the day of the party or pick something from your own garden.

By planning carefully, your guests won't know that you only have a beer budget for your champagne party!

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