Getting our loved ones together can be tricky at the best of times. When you all live far apart and have busy, conflicting schedules it often leads to not seeing the ones you care about as often as you’d like. So when you do manage to meet up, you want it to be special and doing so with good food, drink and conversation is a fantastic way to go about it. And best of all, it doesn’t have to break the bank so it’s suitable for everyone and their different budgets. Here are a few ideas for going about it!
Throw a potluck party
Potluck parties involve all of the guests each bringing a dish they’ve cooked, and you all get to share and sample each other’s cooking. This is great as there’s no major cost on one person, and you get to test all kinds of new recipes and ideas from each other. To make sure you have enough starters, mains, sides and desserts it’s worth assigning a course to different guests. If you base the party on one kind of cuisine then you’ll ensure all of the dishes will work together. For example, if you were throwing a potluck based on Indian cuisine, you could all bring different kinds of curries. Otherwise, you could just keep the theme open and be surprised by what everyone brings! It’s a fun way to throw a dinner party and will suit everyone regardless of their budget. There are lots of recipes on Pinterest which give you ideas of the best kinds of dishes to bring to these sort of parties, and the kinds of things that always go down well. If you know someone isn’t the most confident cook, assign them with a side dish which could be made simply or allow them to bring along a shop bought dessert!
Host a barbeque
A barbeque is always a crowd-pleasing event, delicious meats and veggies cooked over hot coals- what could be better? Again, if everyone brings something along then it prevents you as the host from footing a huge bill. Barbeques can get expensive if you start shopping for the finest steaks and seafood, but can easily be done on a budget. A big bag of frozen chicken drumsticks, for example, cost hardly anything, defrost them and marinate them overnight in some tasty herbs and spices. Precook in the oven and finish on the barbeque for a dish everyone will love. Sausages and burgers can be found cheaply, and at this kind of year, butchers and supermarkets often sell big barbeque bundle packs that can save you money and give you a selection of different meats. Veggie skewers including mushrooms, peppers and onions make a great side dish or mains for non-meat eaters and again don’t cost a lot to put together. Have guests bring a pack of meat, some tasty sauces, some veggies to throw on the grill or even some buns and bread. It will keep the costs down and they might choose things you’d have overlooked yourself making for a more interesting party. Get your garden up to scratch, give it a cleanup and mow the lawn. Jet wash the decking, and add some pretty flowers to pots and dot solar lights around. You’ll have the perfect spot for entertaining guests in the garden.
Invite everyone for a picnic
If all of your friends live in different places, choosing a park in a central location could be a great way to get everyone to meet up. Find a pretty park or garden locally with nice surroundings, and bring some large picnic blankets if there are no benches. Assign things like sandwiches, sweet treats, pastries, salads and drinks to different guests. These things don’t cost a lot of money and between a group of you, you could have a lovely selection of things making the perfect lunch. After you’ve eaten you could take a stroll in the park out in the sunshine, if you have little ones they could play in the park or ride their bikes.
Go out to a restaurant
Going out to a restaurant isn’t always a budget option, however, there are lots of ways you can keep the costs down. Many restaurants have certain days where there are offers on so check their menus online, sites like Groupon always have restaurant deals and there are usually two for one offers and other kinds of money-saving options out there. It’s a lovely occasional treat and if you use vouchers or go about things in the right way then it doesn’t have to break the bank. World style buffets are good options for meeting up as a group as there are loads of different options for food choices, and you can eat what you like knowing it’s only going to cost you a set amount. These kinds of establishments are dotted around all over the place so well worth a look.
Book an afternoon tea
Again, afternoon tea isn’t always the cheapest when you pay full price, but it’s the kind of thing that’s always on offer. You’re almost certain to find a Groupon afternoon tea deal nearby, or check out places online and look at their menu as they’ll have their offers stated on their site. Afternoon tea is a great way to spend an afternoon with your girlfriends, the places that sell them are often pretty and elegant and you get to enjoy a light lunch in a gorgeous establishment. If you want to do something a little different, you can even find afternoon tea in different themes such as an all American afternoon tea with ribs and wings, or one set on a boat! Of course, you always have the option to host it yourself at home. Check online for recipes and the best kinds of things to serve. Scour charity shops for inexpensive cute mismatched china to serve things off and pretty cake stands.
Consider a cocktail party with nibbles
A party doesn’t have to be all about the food, it can just feature as appetisers or nibbles! Cocktail parties can be a lot of fun, and if each guest brings a bottle of spirits and a mixer there are tons of different combinations you could play around with. You could use some larger dispenser containers and premix a couple of different combinations, or you could create a bar area where people can make their own. As the host, you’d just need to supply the ice, glasses and any garnishes like chopped fruit. Create some snacky finger food for people to nibble on, things like mini quiches, smoked salmon on crackers, pinwheels, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and more are all great options. A cheese board or fruit platter is another thing you could consider, and with the right presentation, you can knock people’s socks off! You don’t have to be a chef to put these kinds of things together, choose the right nibbles and they’ll look impressive but with relatively few ingredients and little hassle. Cocktail parties can be a fancier evening affair, or you can keep it a little more casual and throw one in a sunny day and sit in the garden.
Food and drinks are always going to be a fantastic way to get everyone together and ensure they’re having a good time. If you want to socialise more with your loved ones this spring and summer, these are just a few options to consider, even if you’re on a tight budget.