One of the hard things about saving money is feeling like you’re giving up your social life in order to save a few bucks. One of the best ways that I have found that allows me to be social AND save money is by hosting dinner parties for my friends at my apartment.
Going out to eat, even at a relatively inexpensive place every once in a while adds up quickly. It increases exponentially if you’re having a drink or 2 per person during dinner. Instead of spending my money on mediocre food at a restaurant, I like to treat myself to fancy ingredients at a grocery store and make an elaborate meal for myself and my friends. Crazy enough, with all the food I purchase for a large group meal, I still spend less than what I would have spent for Andy and I to dine out.
I like to make my dinner parties feel special by giving them a theme. In the past I have selected regions of the world, so a French dinner, Italian dinner, etc. I like to make the meal feel indulgent by having many courses – salad, soup, main dish, side dish and of course an elaborate, over the top scratch made dessert. Since my guests are usually so excited to have such a great meal and ask what they can do to help, I ask them to bring wine that will pair with the dishes that I am making. It is a fun part of the meal because let’s be honest, everyone loves wine. It also is another level of conversation and allows everyone to try several different types of wine throughout the night. Plus it allows everyone a chance to put their own stamp on the meal and splits the most expensive item of the dinner, the alcohol, across all of the guests.
Having a number of courses also allows everyone plenty of time to sit back, drink wine and enjoy each others company. It’s also a good excuse to bring out the fancy serving platters and bowls that typically sit unused in my cupboard. Come to think of it, it has been a while since my last dinner party. Maybe it’s time to pull out the recipe books and come up with something fun – perhaps an Asian or Latin American theme.