The recessionista’s guide to: Entertaining
Read on for our top 10 recession-conscious entertaining tips. (They’re so painless, we think you’ll be breaking them out even after the economy improves!)
1 Have guests over for brunch instead of dinner: instant cost savings, thanks to pancakes, eggs, bread and coffee galore. Even if you include Prosecco (for mimosas), chances are you’re saving big compared to a dinner menu.
2 Go back to your penniless college days with a pizza-and-games night. Order in a jumbo pepperoni and pop and spend the evening playing Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, or upgrade to Nintendo or Rock Band. If you serve beer, trade in the microbrew for an inexpensive domestic ale or lager. Split the evening’s bill like back in the day, too.
3 Have friends over for wine and cheese. It will save you money and effort compared to a full-on dinner party. And if you’ve been nursing a pricey boutique winery habit, try crowd-pleasing (that includes wine snobs) bottles like Argentinean malbec, Spanish brut (as an alternative to Champagne) or unoaked Chardonnay (cheaper than oaked Chardonnay). They’re three choices that will save you money without making you feel like the dork with the Tetra pack vino.
4 Go traditional. Skip the pricey sushi-grade tuna steak and wow your guests with a good, old-fashioned Sunday dinner. Consider slow-cooked brisket or a roasted whole chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, buttered carrots or peas, plus a simple green salad: easy to make, inexpensive and absolutely delicious. (Cheaper cuts of meat mean you can maintain your organic, free-range principles without paying through the nose.)
5 Make your next dinner party a potluck. Set a theme (i.e. Spanish or Indian), and exchange notes beforehand via email or eVite to avoid duplication and make sure dessert’s covered!6 Any hostess with the mostest knows fresh flora really sets the tone in tabletop and powder room arrangements. But some blooms wilt quickly, making hardy tropicals a more economic choice. Big decorative leaves like alocasia, and showy flowers like pincushion, heliconia and dendrobium and mokara orchids easily last seven to 10 days (and more), so you can enjoy fresh flowers, but can go longer between flower shop visits.
7 Got kids? Your guests can save on babysitting if you have them bring their kids to your next ostensibly adult get-together. Mingle multi-generationally, but take heart: if there are enough kids, most will prefer to play together in another room anyway. Hire a neighbourhood teen to hang out with them if it will minimize parental worry or “hovering.”
8 One word: Fondue. Inexpensive, easy to make, almost universally adored, on-trend again…and cheesealicious!
9 Serve a foodie-approved 100-mile meal. Particularly during the growing season, buying and eating local becomes easier. Besides being better for the environment (reducing transportation) and the Canadian economy (supporting local farmers), eating local is better for your wallet too (local meat, fish and produce is usually cheaper than imported).
Go whole hog and save even more money (and the environment) by nixing bottled water and serving tap water from a pretty pitcher instead and dressing the table with homegrown native wildflowers. Bonus points if you grew the salad course in your backyard!
10 Put things into perspective. If you’re entertaining, your finances aren’t as bad as some Canadians’. Host an inexpensive pasta dinner and have guests bring a $10 donation for charity instead of wine. (Fair’s fair: you collect the donations and make the food, so you get to cut the check and collect the tax receipt!).