Monday, May 16, 2011

Terrible article: 5 Ways To Throw a Party Without Blowing Your Budget

This week, I encountered the most ridiculous article I've ever read on budgeting for a dinner party. 5 Ways To Throw a Party Without Blowing Your Budget, from The Kitchen was a lazy attempt to write about doing dinner on the cheap.

Idea number one was the obvious standby "throw a potluck," but it went downhill from there.

Bring your own booze (BYOB) (idea #3) can be a given depending on the demographic, and many guests show up with a bottle of wine anyway.

But the slippery slope just continued. Unless you're a starving college student, never ask guests to bring their own meat, china or flatware. What a lazy attempt at advice.

To make things worse, the site requires a login to comment, so I decided to use a different outlet to vent my frustration. I now present my own 5 ways to throw a (dinner) party without blowing your budget.

1. Avoid packaged foods. 
Pickle tray with hummus,
herring, pickled eggs and pickled beets,
and pickles
Yes, it's much easier to throw three dozen puff pastries from the freezer into the oven for 20 minutes for an appetizer, but they cost more. E.g., a home-made hummus with freshly-cut vegetables for dipping can be made from scratch for a fraction of the cost.

2. Use in-season fruits and vegetables.
That fancied-up fruit salad with strawberries and blueberries for dessert is going to cost much more in February than it will at the end of the summer.

3. Consider a vegetarian entrĂ©e.
Channa masala, a great vegetarian
choice for a large party.
An easy way to avoid paying for the boneless-skinless chicken breasts for 12 is to not serve them at all. There are lots of tasty vegetarian meals that can easily be prepared. Protein can always be found in other sources such as eggs, beans and tofu.

4. Consider a one-pot main dish.
Many one-pot main dishes (including some casseroles) combine your protein with other vegetables so the meat can go farther per-serving if you choose.

5. Include an inexpensive starch.
Chicken tajine with honeyed tomatoes
and chickpeas
 served on a
bed of couscous.
Offer potatoes, rice or noodles as the base for your meal to sit on. Whether it's Pad Thai, a stir fry, a curry, or a pasta dish, it's also an easy way to eliminate a side-dish.

What are your money-saving tips for throwing a dinner party?

Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen Try other tasty recipes


  1. Those are all really good suggestions, Daniel. Did someone actually suggest that you ask your guests to bring their own meat, china and flatware? Unbelievable!

  2. what? they went to the level of bringing your own flatware and meat, what non-sense. I love your 5 ideas. Of course, we are vegetarians, so, love the fact that we don't have to spend a penny on meat. But, I do love potlucks as that reduces your time you spend cooking and also less expenses for buying ingredients.

  3. Even if I wanted to use packaged foods occasionally, the idea of throwing a dinner party and using them sort of seems counter productive doesn't it? For me part of the fun is the process of preparing the foods!

    Truth be told, if I were throwing a 'Dinner Party' I would not expect my guests to bring anything but themselves. They might bring a bottle of wine which is fine with me but not expected.

    I'll do summer barbecues and/or wine tastings where it's a known entity that everyone brings an appetizer or a dish; those are a bit more casual and work well with that type of effort. But dinnerware and such...I better have that on hand, huh?

    I'm so with you Daniel on the logging in business. If I have to take that extra step, well, it just doesn't happen.

  4. I have hosted potlucks, although they're just that - potlucks among friends - and not an attempt to save cash. I agree that this article was completely tacky. There is an art form to entertaining, and while doing it well can be very time consuming, I enjoy it. And whenever we go to someone's home, we always take something - wine or a nice gift - as an acknowledgement of the host/ess' time and energy in putting on a party.

  5. Glad to see that I am not the only one that thinks some of the stuff on the Kitchen is a waste of space. You are correct Dan, a frugal, home cooked meal will always beat out being cheap. Thanks.

  6. Those are much more usable tips. The tips from that other article sound so broad and lazy that they aren't really tips at all. Good for you for writing a helpful rebuttal.

  7. Bravo! I completely agree with every suggestion! The only other idea I have is that when I'm making cookie dough (or other treats from scratch that this will work for), I always make too much then freeze what I don't use. Then, when I'm having a get-together (or going to one), it's easy to just thaw it, then make it fresh! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  8. thanks for linking to the Frugal Tuesday Tip. very wise words. maybe 'how to throw a frugal graduation party' will be a near future post for me. hope to see a link from you in the future!


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