PARTY DOWN! Dinner Party Under $100

cheap dinner party ideas

Food and friends are the ultimate mood boosters, so don’t rule out entertaining entirely when you’re trying to save. Yeah, some extravagant recipes can add up, especially when you’re doubling and tripling ingredients. But if you keep it simple and sweet, you can still enjoy quite a feast. Here are some cheap dinner party ideas for a casual, super summer-y, but impressive fete.

If you have dinnerware already, use that! Matching sets are overrated, in my opinion, and a table full of colors is the most festive option anyway. And when you have bright and patterned dishes, don’t worry about formal placemats and chargers. You might expect a guest or two to bring wine, but it’s always nice to have a good bottle on hand. The table:  Dinner plates // Dessert plates // Flatware // Bowls // Moscato // Wine glasses

How to Have a Dinner Party for Under $100…

cheap dinner party ideas

For food, one of my favorite warm-weather dishes is Blog Milk’s Summer Pasta. I love this because:

  • It’s pasta. Super cheap, universally loved, filling, and easy to make a lot of.
  • It’s light, healthy, and tasty.
  • It’s easily adaptable:  Vegetarian/Vegan- nix the tuna; Gluten-free- Use quinoa pasta; Don’t like tuna- Switch it for sausage (which is also cheap!).
  • It can use whatever veggies you already have in your fridge. If you’re starting from scratch, the veggies I think work best are seasonal and cheap, like cabbage and squashes.
  • It just looks so pretty. It’s so easy to make, but will visually impress.

For appetizers, keep it light with edamame, an ultimate communal comfort snack, and miso soup, which uses inexpensive ingredients. Make it look fancy by tossing some greens and mushrooms in.

And for dessert, keep it cool with a sweet grown-up popsicle. So many delicious easy recipes are circulating this summer, like avocado and blackberry yogurt.

All together, you could pull off dinner for around $25.


Any go-to dinners you like make for friends?

Lauren Johnson is a filmmaker/producer living in West Hollywood who enjoys a great foreign thriller, leisure beers, and non-primary colors.  Lauren also writes the blog LOCONCEPTS.


6 thoughts on “PARTY DOWN! Dinner Party Under $100

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  1. zimmy

    I have a friend at work that is putting on a dinner party this weekend and she has spent hundreds of dollars and loads of mental stress trying to put it together. I can never figure out why anyone wants to put these parties on if they end up causing so much stress and discomfort during the planning process.

  2. Mike

    For theming ideas we will bring out the mason jars that some people use for canning to drink out of with grilled chicken and vegetables off the grill.

    I like this idea of pasta (or any grain) as a central piece. Couscous is the easiest I’ve found and you could use barley in place of pasta in a salad.

    Nice post.

  3. Jemma

    Providing a good bottle of wine is definitely the way to go…but the example above, is not a good bottle. If you’re a bit unsure about wine, a handy rule of thumb is to avoid anything that comes in a clear bottle. I also find that cheap reds are usually a bit more forgiving than cheap whites, which can be acidic to the point of sourness sometimes. Cleanskin wines can be found for next to nothing and will usually include the region and vintage of the label, which are handy indicators of quality… cleanskins are usually brands trying to sell excess stock without discounting their own brand and I’ve found some gems in my time. If all this sounds a bit complicated…there are some lovely craft beers which you could offer…which will usually be cheaper than a bad bottle of wine and much nicer.


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