Cut the cost of dinner parties

13 March 2009

More of us are shunning restaurants and wine bars, and opting to entertain at home instead. Inviting friends or family to a dinner party has rarely been so fashionable - or popular.

Supermarkets report that sales of dinner party food are up 100% from last year, and wine sales have also rocketed by 200%.

But unless you plan ahead, a soiree can end up costing nearly as much as going out. 

1. Go with the times

Forget sending out invites, polishing the silver or hiring waiters - in these credit crunched times, the dinner party has had something of a makeover. Forget fancy surroundings and high dining - keep it simple and focus on the company rather than trying to impress.

2. The numbers game

Don’t invite the world and his wife - a smaller number of guests will not only make your dinner party more intimate, it will also cut the cost.

3. Old-fashioned fare

You don’t have to impress your guests with fresh lobster – a hearty curry, chicken fajitas or a good old-fashioned Sunday roast should satisfy your guests and not break the bank. Switch fancy table settings and flower displays for candles or tea lights in jam jars.

4. Bring and share

Ask your guests to bring a course or dish each, then you only have to provide the venue. Or, instead of the usual formal three-course meal, have a theme like a cocktail evening with simple finger food or a tea party with lots of cake.

5. Bin the cookery books

Fancy hardback cookery books can cost about £20, so get your recipes off the internet for free. Try if you want celebrity-chef recipes or Moneywise's collection of Food for a Fiver recipes.

You could only just type ‘recipes’ into a search engine. You can even pick up free recipe cards from the supermarket. If you must have a cookery book, buy it second-hand, or search online and get it cheap.

6. Switch supermarkets

The cheapest blue stilton cheese at Waitrose costs £3.28 compared with £1.99 at budget supermarket Aldi. Shop for staples at a cheaper supermarket or at least drop down a brand on all your shopping. See how they compare with the Moneywise Shopping Basket.

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