Next up in our series on Overcoming Hospitality Obstacles is “It’s so expensive.”
There is no doubt that you can certainly host an expensive dinner or get together. In fact, it can be tempting to throw the budget out the window and go all out for one event. But unless it’s a celebration of a major life event (aka wedding, shower or major milestone), you are likely to regret that expensive decision.
The good news is that everyday hospitality – having friends, family or even new neighbors over for fun and fellowship – does not have to be expensive at all. If you read Part 1: “I can’t cook,” some of these will seem familiar, but that’s great because they take out two obstacles at once. There are a few new ones as well.
Referring back to Part 1 – who says it has to be a whole meal? Guests love finger foods and appetizers.
Depending on the season, offer at least one hot appetizer. Stuffed mushrooms, potato skins, meatballs or bacon wrapped little smokies are all quick and easy to do.
Dips are always a hit and can typically be made much cheaper than buying. Offer a variety of chips or crudities and you are good to go.
Stick to a couple of main offerings and then fill in with fruit, veggies, nuts, cubed cheese, etc.
Soups are hearty, economical, can be prepared ahead of time, feed a crowd, and are delicious.
A full and flavorful soup can serve as the whole meal. Offering plain or flavored crackers, homemade croutons, crusty bread, cornbread or serving in a bread bowl makes a complete meal without crossing the expensive threshold.
Go-to soups and their delicious, carb-laden sidekicks are pinned here.
Sandwiches, Sliders and Sides
Whether you serve build-your-own subs, pinwheels, sliders, or even old-school Sloppy Joes, you can’t go wrong with sandwiches. Add in a few ways for your guests to customize and everyone will be happy.
Slaw, pasta salad, potato salad or a marinated vegetable salad could complete the meal.
You can find a variety of sandwiches, sliders and their sides here.
Staple Ingredient Entrees
If you really want to serve a traditional hot entree, stick with inexpensive staple ingredients like ground beef, chicken, potatoes, and pasta. Or go with an entirely vegetarian entree.
There are literally hundreds of way to dress up these basics – many that can be made ahead which is always a plus. Many also freeze well which will save you both time and money (by buying simple ingredients in bulk) should you want to prepare for two events at once, or if you just want to have a meal on hand for your family.
Entrees with basic ingredients can be found here.
Ending a great meal on a sweet note does not have to be expensive. If you are a great baker, then go for a tried and true cake. If you are more like me and are best and mixing and chilling, there are so many inexpensive no-bake options to choose from.
Interactive desserts such as sundae bars, top your own cupcake or even designing your own fruit pizza are fun and a great way to get your guests talking and laughing. Just make sure you limit your buffet options to save on costs.
Cost-effective sweet temptations are pinned here.
Set a budget-friendly table
Once you have decided on your meal, take a minute to look around your home to see how you can dress up the table without incurring the added expense. Finding new ways to use what you have on hand is part of the fun for me. (Honestly, you would be surprised how excited a grown woman gets about finding new ways to style a table.)
I’ll be adding posts later on some basic entertaining items that are helpful to have, and inexpensive centerpieces anyone can do, so please stay tuned for that. (Be sure to subscribe to the Behind the Scenes Belle email list below.)
But for now, start by gathering the candles you have. Size doesn’t matter, but it would be great if you have several of the same color – white is always the easiest to work with. Don’t worry if you do not have candlesticks or holders to accommodate the different sizes.
Next look for clear glass containers to hold said candles and/or flowers. Get creative here. Do you save all of your glass jars or bottles? If not, you should start as they can easily add interesting shapes and sizes to your centerpiece options. Do you have extra glassware that could work? How about a glass plate, saucer or serving piece you won’t be using for the meal? An extra mirror used as a base would instantly multiply the glow. These are all great options.
While you are looking, survey your yard to see if there are any pretty blooms or interesting greenery you can incorporate. Nothing there? What about a potted plant that could be dressed up?
And don’t forget the table covering. If you don’t have a tablecloth you love, don’t go out and buy one just yet. (I will be sharing some great options in the upcoming post I mentioned earlier.) Consider using what you have and dressing it up with a runner. Runners can be lengths of fabric, a large scarf, a curtain panel you aren’t using (please tell me I am not the only one who keeps curtain panels for this purpose), or even a patterned wrapping pattern. Or if you have no tablecloth at all, a length of kraft paper is a very simple rustic chic option – especially if you personalize it for your guests.
You could literally spend all day searching Pinterest for table setting ideas that are not expensive, but before you do that, check out the ones I pinned for you here.
Other ways to overcome this obstacle
I hope these few quick ways to address the “It’s so expensive” obstacle are helpful and increase your comfort level with having friends and family in your home. If these suggestions haven’t convinced you that entertaining doesn’t have to be expensive, check out these additional suggestions.
I would love to add your thoughts and tips. Please add them below in the comments.
The next hospitality obstacle we will tackle is: “My house is not clean or nice enough.”
By the way, if this series prompts you to be more hospitable in the new year, please see this post on making hospitality resolutions.
Stay humble, work hard, be kind.
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