The Inexpensive Cocktail Party

Throwing an easy, elegant (and budget-minded) cocktail party is a cinch if you know where to cut corners.

Money Sense

Want to host your next fĂȘte without breaking the bank? Think about these ideas.

  • Forget paper invitations. Instead, use an online service like Evite or Paperless Post. Not only will you save on postage, e-invitation companies offer excellent online tools that let you track your guests’ responses and comments.

Southern Hospitality

If you’re planning a move to the South, take a look at our new homes in Charlotte. Our advice if you do decide to buy? Two magazine subscriptions: Southern Living and Garden & Gun. Both have great entertaining ideas.

  • No one notices flowers. Just dim the lights and go for lots of votive candles. If you want to add extra oomph, place string white lights on your front door, on the fireplace mantel, or up the banister. World Market, Party City, and Oriental Trading are fantastic for all kinds of candles and decorations.
  • Yummy doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re feeding a big crowd, head to Costco or Sam’s Club for frozen quiches, mini hot dogs, and eggrolls, and serve with mustard or duck sauce for dipping. Other ideas include bruschetta and cheeses with sliced bread (carbs are filling), dips and chips, thinly sliced meats like pepperoni, and bowls of spiced nuts.
  • Everyone loves candy. For dessert, showcase a big bowl of colorful candy with goodies you get from a bulk store. Mix nonpareils with pretzels, licorice bits, malted milk balls, and other old-time favorites. Include a scooper or a big spoon so guests can easily help themselves.
  • Create simple choices. Keep it elegant by offering two brands of beer (one light and one regular) and two brands of wine (one red and one white). You can save money by buying double bottles of wine. Just transfer them to glass carafes, if you’d like.
  • Signature drinks are festive. If you want to serve hard alcohol, bypass a full bar and go for one cocktail that features one or two types of reduced-premium booze. Epicurious features tons of drink ideas. Remember to offer lots of non-alcoholic drinks for your designated drivers.
  • Borrow from friends. Don’t have a food processor, an ice tub, or enough platters? Save your money. Just plan in advance and ask your friends for a loaner.

Ryan Homes Tip: What’s the best way to make a party special? Simply be gracious and hospitable. That’s always free!