Takeout boxes, TV dinners, frozen pizzas, and other dishes of solitude and convenience have a way of piling up. The packaging doesn’t just pile up in your garbage can—that’s not the problem. The problem is that it accumulates in your soul. We know in our hearts what a dinner is supposed to be—food we’ve prepared ourselves to share with one another. For one reason or another, we just can’t get to that point as often as we might like. Cooking a nice meal is too risky to get wrong. Sometimes, we can’t round up the right guest list or there’s just not enough time—and for another Saturday night, delivery it is. Eventually, the pile of packages looms too large to ignore and we finally resolve to throw that dinner party we’ve been meaning to have for weeks, or months, or even years.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier from there. You can’t throw a quality dinner party using only your good intentions. Between food, wine, and all the cutlery, a party worth throwing would appear to set you back at least four figures. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You can try many easy ways to throw a lovely party on a budget and capture the elevation and sophistication you’re after without breaking the bank. Here’s how to procure the look of elegance at a fraction of the cost for your next dinner party.
You Belong Among the Wildflowers—or Do They Belong Among You?
One small but unmistakable difference between a casual dinner and a formal event is something on the table that you don’t even eat from. We’re talking about your centerpiece, which we tend to keep away for our regular meals but make a point to bring out before special occasions. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for what makes a perfect centerpiece—amid the rigorous rules of setting a table, it tends to be an opportunity for personal expression. Some households have family heirlooms that have made their way through the generations only to resurface for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, and special dinner parties here and there. Others who don’t have longstanding centerpieces improvise them with vases full of fresh flowers, and that’s as lovely a choice as any. Stop by your local florist or even just the floral section of a grocery store, and you’ll find that a floral arrangement fit for an elegant occasion is terribly expensive—and it won’t last too long, either. If you have a yard or even just a flower box on your condo balcony, you can cut costs on your centerpiece by growing your own flowers and shearing them for your elegant evening. You may not even need to cultivate them yourself—sometimes, the most beautiful flowers are the ones that grow in the wild.
Cuisine française: c'est presque trop simple
Zut alors! There’s a dirty little secret about French cuisine. Stateside, we’ve come to associate France with unapproachably élite dishes—culinary creations that one can only perfect through years of toiling in the continent’s most select kitchens. It’s true that among the pages of a French cookbook, you’ll find some peak examples of haute cuisine that go beyond haute and straight into haughty. But most of what we know as “French cuisine” doesn’t come from the kitchens of Versailles at all. Rather, it’s peasant food that has ascended to a lofty perch through years of refinement and cultural cachet. This means that you can impart a distinctly Gallic sensibility to your dinner without breaking the bank. For instance, bœuf bourguignon, a signature dish of French cuisine, simply requires beef, red wine, stock, and root vegetables to achieve its robust and earthy flavor profile—all ingredients that are available at your nearest grocery store at reasonable prices. Quiche Lorraine, that savory bacon-and-eggs tart? It’s flavorful but simple, an evolution from the countryside. Maybe a beef stew or a quiche doesn’t have quite the presentation you want for your dinner party. Peruse other French recipes, and you’ll find that it’s easy and affordable to prepare many dishes that will impress your guests. Bon appétit!
We Propose a Toast To Disposable Champagne Flutes
Fine champagne flutes are a big investment for such small glasses. In the perfect champagne flute, we look for lightness, clarity, and a shape that allows celebrants to enjoy the full flavor of the champagne from start to finish, from its various notes to its subtle effervescence. Most flutes achieve this with glass or crystal construction, but with disposable plastic champagne flutes from Smarty Had a Party, you can achieve the appearance of fine crystal without paying budget-busting prices. While a flute is but one shape of champagne glasses in the wide realm of wine-specific drinkware, our flutes come in even more varieties still, with choices between stemmed or stemless and smooth or textured. Whatever their shape, they boast durability that reusable flutes simply can’t. Fragile glass and crystal flutes all but demand that you wash them by hand—dishwashers can spoil fine glasses with films of dried-on detergent or shatter the fragile glasses altogether from the heat and cold. With plastic alternatives, you won’t have to worry about whether your flutes are dishwasher safe. At the end of the night, you can dispose of them with confidence. Here’s to simplicity.
Affordable Elegance With Smarty Had a Party
At Smarty Had a Party, achieving the look of elegance at a fraction of the cost is practically our mission. In addition to our disposable champagne flutes, we feature a range of durable and attractive single-use party supplies, from color-coordinated dinnerware ensembles to eco-friendly flatware and dishes that can go from the dinner table to the compost heap without a layover in a landfill. Check out our full catalog to find everything you’ll need to capture luxury aesthetics at affordable prices—all without having to agonize over the exacting instructions for post-meal cleaning. In short, you should empty out your freezer of all those pre-cooked meals you’ve been eating so often. It’s time to throw an elegant dinner party.