Italian Night Dinner Party: Entertaining on a Budget

Going out with friends every weekend is expensive. But having your friends over for dinner can often seem overwhelming, and all those fancy recipes you feel obliged to make to impress your friends can make cooking at home even more expensive. But don’t let dinner parties overwhelm you or hurt your wallet. Follow our simple steps and recipes below for a fabulous night with friends for less.
1. Ask friends to pitch in. Have one friend bring a loaf of Italian bread. Have someone bring a Caesar salad and have the rest bring a bottle of wine or the fixings for their favorite drink. Just by asking people to pitch in, you save money, ease stress, and make your friends part of the evening. Don’t feel bad asking for help, a bottle of wine is cheaper than a meal out. You are saving them money too!

2. Don’t clean -tidy up. One of the most stressful things about having people over is feeling the need to deep clean your house. Don’t. Just tidy. Pick up junk, sweep and vacuum and you are done. If you have kids, a roommate, or spouse who makes messes like a legion of two-year-olds, first walk through the house with a trash bag and pick up all the garbage. Then, get out a laundry basket and walk around the house picking up clutter and putting in the basket. Then, put the basket in the basement or closet and shut the door. Voila! Instant tidy. After the guest have gone and you have time, sort through the basket and put the items in their proper places. We do this even when we aren’t having guests over, it’s a simple easy way to consolidate clutter and organize the cleaning process.

3. Make your house a home. Simply lighting a candle, opening some windows, or if its still freezing where you are, turning up the heat a little higher than normal, can give your house a cozy feel. When we have guests in the winter, we always crank up the heat before they come so the house is cozy. When they leave, we turn the heat off and go to bed. It helps balance out the extra we just spent on heating. In the summer, before guests come we open the windows and let the fresh air flow through.

baked ziti III Italian Night Dinner Party: Entertaining on a Budget
The Menu

  • Caesar salad – have a friend bring this, they can simply pick up a salad kit at the store and mix it at your house)
  • Italian bread – again, ask a friend to bring this. For less than $5, they can pick up a loaf at the grocery store that is already buttered and only needs to heat up for about 15 mins in the over.
  • Wine – ask a friend to bring a bottle or two. For inexpensive wines, we like the Yellow Tail, especially their Shiraz.
  • Baked Ziti – We love this recipe from AllRecipes.com. It is simple, tasty, easy to make, and the best part is you probably have all of these ingredients in your cupboard. We use Prego spaghetti sauce. It’s cheap, but it does the trick. But, don’t skimp on the basil. If you don’t have fresh and it is too expensive. Just use dried basil. It does the trick.
  • Tiramisu Layer Cakethis cake is delicious! It is so easy to make and we make it even cheaper by substituting coffee flavored liqueur with imitation rum. And instead of instant coffee powder we use our favorite hazelnut coffee drink mix. You can buy this in cans at the grocery store in the coffee aisle. We’ve had no complaints. This cake tastes even better if you make it in the morning and let it sit in the fridge all day. This gives the liqueur/imitation rum a chance to really flavor the cake.
  • Tip Decorate the cake with chocolate shavings by scraping a vegetable peeler against an unsweetened or bittersweet baking chocolate square. Or decorate with raspberries or chocolate covered strawberries.Yum.


    Pictures courtesy of AllRecipes.com