host a dinner party on a budget

Hostess Essentials: Host a Dinner Party on a Budget of $150

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I absolutely love dinner parties. Stories and laughter over wine. Bellies full of homemade meals and hearty company.

Being one of the few 20-somethings I know who owns a home, I often find myself hosting, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. There’s nothing quite like sharing your favorite recipes with your friends and opening up your home to help your loved ones feel warm and cozy. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to give for the low price of deep-cleaning your house (which, let’s face it, we all need reminders to do anyway!) and an extra run of the dishwasher.

And yet, hosting seems to scare people. The two concerns I hear most often? “I don’t have enough space,” and “I don’t have nice things.” While there’s only so much you can do with the space that you have, you can easily host a dinner party on a budget by stocking your kitchen with the essentials. Start with the basics (classic white dinnerware, simple flatware, wine glasses, etc.), add some candles or fresh flowers, put on some music, and voila! Everything you need to host a simple dinner party.

Bonus: You can buy everything that you see below and serve six people for less than $150! Ever better—all are available on Amazon Prime, so shipping is fast and free. Links below.

Hostess Essentials, host a dinner party for $150 or less

01. Dinnerware set for 6
02. Flatware set for 4 (Buy two!)
03. Drinking glasses for 6
04. Serving utensils
05. Wine glasses for 6
06. Serving platters, set of 4
07. Bar set (includes cocktail shaker, bottle opener, wine opener, and other essentials)

What are your hostess essentials?

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salad

Apple Pecan and Cheese Salad

The one thing I enjoy more than spending sunny mornings on beaches is spending hot afternoons on porches alongside breezy bays – peeling shrimp, dipping fish in tartar, and sipping the same, cool beer used to batter the hushpuppies and bake the bread.

It was during one of these very moments alongside a bay in Alabama that I discovered another kind of seafood (and by that I mean the kind of food you eat while at the beach) that warrants some consideration. It’s another s-word like salmon, swordfish, scallops, and shrimp.

What’s that about a new kind of seafood? Oh yes. Salads. Particularly this salad, which features apples, toasted pecans, and goat cheese. Savor the taste for a few minutes as you skim the ingredients.

Apple Pecan and Cheese Salad With a Cinnamon Vinaigrette Dressing
Recipe inspired by Shipp’s Harbour Grill
Photo by Laurel Fan / Creative Commons

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 bag spring mix
  • 1 Red Delicious apple, sliced into wedges
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake pecans for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. In a large bowl, mix pecans, spring mix, apple slices, and goat cheese. Chill until ready to serve.
  3. In a small jar, combine next seven ingredients and mix by shaking jar. Chill at least 20 minutes. (NOTE: Dressing adapted from Southern Living)
  4. Lightly coat salad with dressing just before serving.

Now, I know what you’re saying. There’s no sea in it!

To which I say yes, sort of.

There’s nothing in the salad that comes from the sea, but it’s the perfect bayside dish because it is the sea. It is the crispness that is the waves, the brisk splash of saltwater that hits the small of your back without warning, the sudden breeze that saves you as it flaps against your skin. But it is also the heat of summer, the tingling warmth that overcomes you when you first lay down into sand. It is a hot-cold, breezy day at the beach.

Simply put, it is delicious, so I guarantee you’ll want to try it. At the beach, I ate it as an entree, but I’ve also made it as a side. It’s particularly tasty alongside shrimp chowder. Go figure.

Check out 5 Tips (And Recipes) For Hosting a Dinner Party After Work for ideas about how to incorporate this recipe into your next dinner party menu.