It’s no secret that college students are low on funds and when it comes to planning an event or party you need to be conscious of your wallet. Fortunately, there are ways you can have a good time and host a successful dinner party without breaking the bank. It just takes some thoughtful planning.

Decide on Your Guest List

As with any party, you should start by deciding on your guest list. Having a decided group of people will help you to make informed planning decisions. For example, you’ll know how much food to make based on how many people are coming. Without a guest list, you are more likely to go over budget because you won’t be aware of your party’s specific needs. When creating your guest list, you should be considerate of group dynamics. You want to have a fun group of people who get along well. Make sure every person has something in common with a few other people to ensure that everyone has a good time.

Send Invitations

Sending out invitations is an important step in preparing for a dinner party. You can send these invitations in a variety of ways including through email, text, or as physical invitations. There are plenty of websites available where you can create classy invitations for free. While letting your friends know about the dinner party is essential, you must also emphasize getting a response from people. You need to know how many people are going to attend. This will help you finalize details so you can stay within your budget. Another detail to note is the date provided on the invitation. You want to make sure you pick a day that is open for most if not all of your guests and be sure it doesn’t come right before any major exams or events.

Check for Diet Restrictions

If you want to be a good host, you need to make sure you provide for the needs of your guests. You wouldn’t want anybody showing up only to realize they can’t eat anything. Before your party, preferably before you set the menu, reach out to your guests and ask about their dietary needs. This will help you to either create a meal that suits everyone or to provide satisfying alternatives for those who need it. Making this extra effort will make your guests feel more appreciated and welcome and they are more likely to enjoy the dinner party.

Make Appetizers

Providing appetizers for your guests is a great way to get things started. These appetizers can be put out while your guests are arriving. They can have the opportunity to chat with one another while enjoying little snacks. You can provide a variety of appetizers but try to keep the ingredients simple for your own sake. If it’s easier, you can even purchase appetizers from the store. For small bite-sized appetizers, knotted toothpicks are a perfect way to serve them. Just make sure you have a place for them to dispose of the toothpicks. You should also provide small plates, cocktail napkins, and cups to suit all needs.

Create an Ambience

Completely decorating your home for a dinner party may be outside your budget. However, there are still ways you can create a lively atmosphere without spending too much money. The first place to start is with the lighting. Generally, lower lighting is good for a dinner party. You can use lamps, string lights, or candles to get this effect. If you go with candles, you could also incorporate them into the center of your table. Now, the table is where you want to spend a little more effort. This of course can also be done cheaply. Use what you already have around your house to create a centerpiece. You can even head outside and find some branches or greenery to create a natural centerpiece. Get creative with it! Lastly, you should create a playlist that will set the tone of the evening without being too distracting.

Prep Beforehand

Hosting a dinner party can be very stressful, so you want to prepare what you can beforehand. Just to get it out of the way, you can start by setting and decorating your table. This can be done as far in advance as you need, and it won’t need to be on your to-do list the day of the party. Another option to consider is making your dessert the day before. After dinner is finished, you can just heat it or add final touches and easily serve it to your guests. On the day of your party, start your prep work early on. This could include chopping vegetables, measuring out ingredients, and anything else that will make it easier once it’s time to start cooking. You should also think about washing pots, pans, and utensils as you use them so there’s less to clean afterward.

Plan to Be Flexible

Remember that you’re in college and plans can change for anyone. Someone might not be able to make it at the last minute. Other people might bring a plus one. Make allowances for this as you plan the evening. Most importantly, don’t let last-minute changes stress you out. This night is about having a good time with your friends so roll with the punches and adapt to the situation.

After Dinner Etiquette

You will always have friends who offer to help with dishes, but don’t let them worry about it. They came to have a nice time and relax and as the host, you can handle the after-dinner clean-up. Besides, most guests only offer to be polite. Since you have post-dinner clean-up to handle, and you’re likely tired from all the work that went into the party, you’ll have to signal that the party is ending. Make sure you are polite and emphasize that you appreciate everyone coming and that you’re glad everyone had a good time.

Dinner parties sound like high-end, classy affairs, but that doesn’t mean they have to be outside your budget. Besides, the real fun comes from the time you spend with your guests. Having a college dinner party is perfectly manageable.

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