I love hosting people! I’ve thrown every type of party imaginable from giant keg parties where you charge a $5 cover (ok, that was in college) to elaborate themed costume parties and casual barbecues. I’ve cooked for 4 and I’ve cooked for 50 (yes, really) and I’ve done the majority of it in small apartments and oddly configured lofts.
Entertaining at home is a cornerstone of frugal living. It might be hard for some people to imagine but restaurants and bars weren’t always a thing. The precursor to both were essentially small boarding houses. Women (especially those without husbands) often opened boarding houses in their homes where they would provide travelers with meals and drinks as well as a place to stay (that’s actually how Jacques Pepin learned how to cook- his mother ran a boarding house). Wealthy people didn’t go out to eat at all because they had chefs and staff to serve them meals every evening at home.
Eventually a hand full of very elite (and prohibitively expensive) restaurants began to crop up in major cities, but even through the 1940s most middle class people outside of major cities didn’t eat out very often. The drive through changed things considerably as did the advent of fast food, but it wasn’t until mid-low range restaurants became ubiquitous that regular people began eating out all the time. Diners, chain restaurants, and automats were suddenly in every town, and bars became something that everyone (not just rough & tumble ne’er-do-wells) enjoyed.
Nowadays people entertain at home less than ever before because going out is the norm, but if you want to live frugally and have a social life I strongly recommend hosting! When you entertain at home you have so much more freedom to do whatever you want and create a unique experience for your guests. If you want to host a casual buffet with cheap beer and a bad movie playing on the projector/tv, go for it! If you want to host a sit down dinner with 4 courses, white linens, and fresh flowers everywhere, you can do that too!
Here’s another great side effect: Entertaining at home is ALWAYS cheaper than going out. Always.
Instead of going out to the cheapest possible place you can be relatively indulgent! Your guests get treated to lots of yummy food and in return you can ask them to bring a couple of things. I always provide all the food and ask people to bring sweets and drinks. I don’t like baking, and providing beverages on top of food would get a little pricey. Plus, no one minds bringing a bottle or two of something and everyone can just bring what they want (beer, wine, soda, whiskey, etc.).
I hosted a small 4 person gathering recently where I went way overboard on the food front (a few people cancelled last minute) and served Shrimp Cocktail, Stuffed Grape Leaves, My Epic Cheese Ball (with a walnut & dried cranberry crust), & Spanakopita followed by BBQ Chicken Sliders, Tortellini Salad, Chips, Potatoes au Gratin, and Baked Beans. Our guests brought loads of delicious drinks and this awesome Dino cake (it was the fella’s birthday).
I spent about $75 on the event (that’s including some cheap decor), which put my cost at $18.75 per person. I could have EASILY cut back on the food (my refrigerator is overflowing with leftovers) and done it for way less, but the up side is I don’t have to cook at all this week or spend any money grocery shopping! Oh, and we have cake in the house now…CAKE!
Here’s to entertaining at home!