A great party consists of setting a warm, festive mood, great music, and trying lots of new, eclectic food and drink - so let everyone - all of your friends and family be a part of the menu design team and get into the spirit of the season by bringing something.
A Perfect Event:
"My favorite at home parties this season have been where each guest brings a favorite bottle of wine and a food pairing. I have tasted Thai, Australian, Jamaican, German, Southern, not to mention so many great wines I had never even heard of before. In five easy, no cost or low cost steps we are going to share our secrets for a party on a $100 budget.
"First - let's set the mood. Really look around your home, and use items that you already have to create dramatic decor and set the table.
"Try to create a focal point in each room - on a coffee table, a fireplace mantle, a dining table with colorful fabric and vases turned candles. A designer trick is to use sheets as runners, folding under the seams just for a few hours. This is an instant, no cost tablecloth. Cost - zero dollars.
"Another design secret is to always use odd numbers - like a trio of glass vases creating a triangle on the table. These glass vases can instantly become the perfect candlestick with white beans used as an anchor. Total Cost - $15.
"Second - let's set the bar. Using a drinking jar or a collection of glass pitchers on a tray creates an instant centerpiece and focal point at the bar, and something new for all of your guests to taste and enjoy. Plus - a catering secret is to have these premade, prepoured and easy to self serve allows you to focus on guests - not bartending, and for guests to help themselves quickly and easily - so no bartender is needed.
"Prosecco is an Italian Sparkling Wine, and is almost always around $10 a bottle. Mixed with colorful, delicious juices and fresh herbs and citrus slices you have a beautiful first impression cocktail that lasts all night long. Drinking Jar - $24.99, Juice $6, Prosecco $8, Garnishes $5. Total Cost $44.
"Third, a big cost saver for parties is to use your own glasses - you don't need to rent. You can mix and match all different glassware styles, patterns, and types from champagne to wine to water to rocks. A design secret is that this is more interesting - more pleasing to the eye, unique, and personal than if you had rented fifty matching champagne glasses.
"Fourth, a catering secret is to always have something to nibble on at the bar - for guests to enjoy while chatting or perhaps waiting for a drink. These Bobbi Sue's Nuts are from my store, A Perfect Event, where we specialize in small batch, artisan hostess gifts and entertaining details. Place them in small, elegant bowls or even glasses for the perfect snack size display. Cost - $5.
"The same insider secret tablesetting tip also goes for plates - use bread plates, salad plates and dessert plates for small, tasting sized plates at the buffet. Cost - zero dollars.
"Since guests are bringing wines to pair and share, you want to have ice buckets ready at the bar for them to be placed into as they arrive.
"Last, you want at least three tastes premade and preset on the buffet. Nothing is worse than arriving to an empty, bare table at a party. You want to walk in and see an elegant first impression, and taste everything in front of you. For three low cost menu ideas, a catering secret is to pick recipes with just a few key ingredients, but big flavors - keeping your grocery and prep work to a minimum.
"Blue Cheese Walnut Spread with Walnut Crudite to include Grape Skewars, Radicchio, Endive and Apple and Pear Slices is 6 ingredients, takes about 15 minutes to create, and cost us $16. It is the traditional Waldorf Salad, deconstructed for the holiday.
"Proscuitto wrapped Figs with Rosemary is 3 ingredients, takes 5 minutes to create, and cost us $10.
"Flatbreads are the perfect winter party food as they are so easy to combine together with your favorite ingredients that inspire you at the grocery. Pair Goat Cheese (I ask you - what doesn't taste better with goat cheese?) with Peach Pepper Jelly and Fresh Basil, ontop Flatbread in the grocery bakery aisle. 4 ingredients, 5 minutes to make, and cost us $10.
"Everything - costing us just under $100 for the entire party budget - comes from your own kitchen cabinets, pantry shelves, and one quick trip to the grocery store. With these tips and tricks you can throw that last minute New Year's Party with style to go around, and a party budget to spare."
A Perfect Event
3050 N. Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657