Throwing a dinner party for a group of people can be an expensive affair. When you're cooking for between 6-10 people (or more, if you're super popular), it's not cheap. Those are a lot of hungry mouths to feed, plus snacks to start, dessert for after, and booze just because. The cost of throwing a dinner party can add up fast. But that doesn't mean you can't still have whimsical summer backyard BBQs or cozy fireplace winter fetes. It just means you have to be a bit more creative. The best way to throw a budget friendly dinner party is with a potluck -- where everyone contributes by bringing along a dish -- and this is how you do it.
1. Pick a theme
We're not going to say no to a Mexican three layer dip next to a Greek salad, but it's still a little odd. Choose a loose theme, Mediterranean for instance, for your dinner party, that way all the dishes people bring will make sense together.
2. Allocate and communicate
You're going to have to micromanage a little bit, otherwise you might end up with seven pasta salads. If you don't allocate dishes to your guests (or let them choose themselves and communicate to you ahead of time) you risk having to run to the store last minute to shop for emergency diversity provisions, which means you'll wind up breaking the budget you were throwing the pot luck to keep in the first place.
3. Make booze a team effort, too
If everyone brings one (cheap) bottle of wine, or one six pack of (cheap) beer, there'll be more then enough booze. With the cost spread out evenly amongst guests, no one shoulders the entire burden. Teamwork!
4. Limit ingredients in each dish
If you want to get really budget friendly, challenge your guests to making 3-4 ingredient dishes (excluding spices, of course). It's a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to putting together their plate.
5. Make sure every dish is completed beforehand
The last thing you want is everyone using expensive kitchen things, like oil and finishing salts, that you'll end up having to replace after the party. Make sure everyone is prepared before they arrive, and that dishes don't need to be made or cooked at your place (obviously warming things up is okay!).