How to Host a Dinner Party on a Budget

If you are like us it is has been a long since you’ve used your good plates. That means it’s time to throw a dinner party!

But you really haven’t the budget to entertain right now. Not to worry.

Even on a tight budget, having a delicious and fun dinner party for your friends is completely possible. And what’s more, you’ll be able to pull it off with such panache that your friends will never believe you did it on the cheap.

Here’s how to make the most of your budget and have the kind of dinner party that everyone gushes about for years.

1. Plan your meal based on ingredients you have

Of course, you’ll need to run to the store to round out the items with fresh vegetables and produce. But working with the other things you already have or even things that you will use after the party is over are your best choices.

Choose a theme too, like Italian or Asian, and you’ll limit the chaos.

2. Stick to tried and true recipes

This is not the time to try that interesting recipe you saw on Pinterest. Stick to things you know will be a hit, or else you’ll be ordering takeout for everyone and busting your budget.

Pick a favorite cuisine from your favorite international cookbook and give a few recipes a try a couple weeks in advance, then decide on your favorites to recreate for the party.

3. Go potluck

Planning a potluck dinner party is great for the budget, obviously. But it’s also a wonderful way for everyone to contribute.

A theme makes it even more fun too, and everyone can choose a different dish to bring.

You can even vote on your favorites and give out a small token to the winner at the end of the evening.


Without libations, a dinner party can be pretty dull. Yet, alcohol can be one of your most costly purchases. You surely don’t want to serve your guests budget beer, so feel free to tell them to BYOB.

Make suggestions for what you’ll be serving. If you’d like to do a wine pairing, ask each guest to help match each course. In this way, everyone can enjoy a perfect pairing with every bite.

5. Set the mood

Use your dimmer switches to create more ambient light. Candles also add an element of mystique and romance to the meal.

Don’t forget the music either. If you’ve chosen a theme, you can use music to match it.

French food? Try a little French music. And even without a theme, choosing something classic is always in style.

Just remember to keep the volume reasonable. You don’t want your guests to have to shout over the music to talk to each other.

6. Look the part

A simple centerpiece that you can make yourself along with a table runner can do wonders for your table.

Add your place settings and it will look like a proper place for dining.

7. Don’t forget the entertainment

Dinner is just the first segment of the evening. Once dessert has been enjoyed, it’s time to take things to the party level. Maybe the music gets a little louder and wilder.

Maybe you pull out some classic board games, a deck of cards, or even go all out with drinking games.  Amazon has a great selection of new and classic dinner party games, like Murder Mystery, TableTopics, trivia, etc.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something fun that everyone can get into.

You’ll know your dinner party was a smashing success when your friends ask you when you’ll be doing it again!

How to Host a Dinner Party On a Budget

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  1. Great tips! I would also add use your grill if you have one. Keeping the heat outside will help with cooling costs as well, especially with a bunch of people crammed into your house.

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