You’ve finished all of your assignments, you’re sitting down to enjoy a budget-friendly bowl of instant ramen and you get a text: huge party at one of the hottest (and most expensive) clubs in Montreal and all of your friends are going.
You check your bank account, realize you don’t even have enough money to buy a Red Bull and come to the sad realization that you won’t be attending the night’s festivities. As students, we’ve all been in that dreaded situation.
However, there are student-friendly ways of getting together with all of your friends that will cost little to no money at all. The solution? Throw a dinner party.
Gone are the days when dinner parties were reserved for awkward family get-togethers and your great-aunt Ruth’s bridge club. Dinner parties are cheap, effective, and more intimate than a bar setting, and I’m going to guide you through the steps to have one of your own.
Every good party takes a bit of planning, and dinner parties are no exception. Make a guestlist and stick to it. Easiest way to send out invitations? Electronically, of course. Because it’s eco-friendly, free and effective. Ask a couple of your closest friends if they wouldn’t mind helping you out in order to make your party a hit. Adding a theme makes it more fun for your guests and helps with your decoration choices. A simple black-and-white theme can transform a dull party into an elegant night with friends.
With more and more websites like Pinterest and Craft Gawker popping up every week online, making simple decorations for a party has never been easier. Paint twigs and sticks you find outside and put them in a simple water glass with a coloured ribbon wrapped around it for an easy centerpiece. If you have a couple of Mason jars lying around, throw some tea lights, which can be found at a dollar store in a pack of 25, in them and place them around the dining area and kitchen to create a mellow mood lighting. If you’re worried about messes and want to add a little panache to your seating area, cover your furniture with cheap cotton fabric, in keeping with your theme, and all of those little crumbs and spills will be that much easier to clean up. Decorate plastic cups using nail polish — it comes prepackaged with its own brush and dries quickly.
I’ve always been a fan of a good, old-fashioned potluck. With a potluck, you don’t end up going over budget making sure all of your guests have full tummies. Make a list of the courses you intend to serve — appetizers, salad, soup, main course, dessert — and save them in a Google Doc that everyone attending has access to. This makes it easy for people to see what others are bringing and also cuts down on an inevitable abundance of chips. All of those black plastic Chinese food containers can suddenly be put to good use by displaying appetizers or holding cutlery. If potluck isn’t your style, there are still ways to keep your dinner fun and have your guests feel like they’re doing their part. A make-your-own-pizza party is a great way to allow guests to be as creative as they like. Pick up a package of frozen, pre-made pizza crusts, some veggies, pepperoni and cheese at the grocery store, lay it out on a table or counter and let your party experiment with different toppings.
The easiest way for you to satisfy your guests’ needs in regards to drinks is to ask them to supply their own. There’s nothing wrong with a good old BYOB. If you want to serve wine with dinner, pick up a box of wine — they’re not all bad, but if it’s undrinkable, turning it into a spritzer with some Sprite or carbonated water is a good way to save the day. All of a sudden your cheap wine becomes a bit classier. Always have options for people who don’t drink alcohol; whether it’s a couple of bottles of soda, ice water or a homemade punch.
There you have it! A couple of elegant ways to throw a party on a student-friendly budget.