Entertaining On A Budget: Elegant Dinner Parties

Entertaining on a Budget:  

Affordable & Elegant Dinner Party Ideas

This post is dedicated to hosting affordable, yet elegant dinner parties! Below is a collection of super fun, time friendly, and creative Do It Yourself ideas to help transform a dinner party, no matter how big or small, into an elegant event without spending too much money, nor putting too much time into the planning.  These ideas are from A Lot On Your Plate, as well as seen on HGTV.com, Martha Stewart, and other great sources for all things dinner party.  Enjoy!


“Easy-As-Can-Be” Water-Flower Arrangements (as seen on HGTV.com) These beautiful vases are filled with lemons, water, and short stemmed flowers.  They are perfect for setting an elegant mood for a dinner party while costing only a fraction of a full bouquet of flowers would cost.


Candles, Candles, Candles! When combined, candles big and small, tall or short, are a pretty way to accent a table.  Whatever the theme, white candles are always the one of the most inexpensive, yet beautiful ways to go.

Beaded Elegance Oil-Rubbed Bronze Napkin Ring

Add Napkin Rings.  How easy is that?  Napkin rings could get pricey, but purchasing them  while on clearance or during a sale is the perfect way to dress up a table without over paying.  Overstock.com and Bed, Bath, and Beyond are 2 great places to find gorgeous napkin rings for a very affordable prices. (Shown Above: Beaded Elegant Oil-Rubber Bronze Napkin Ring $2.99 each).


Invest in a Table Runner.  Like the napkin rings, a table runner is a fun way to splash some color onto a table without over doing the table decor.  Etsy.com has some of the most beautiful, handmade table runners that are not only custom made, but affordable as well.  (Shown Above: Rustic Table Runner by Dont Forget The Details; Etsy.com; $23.00)


Plan the Menu and Make Use of It As Table Decor:  It is important to know what you are going to make for the main course way ahead of time to avoid complications down the road. Just remember to keep it simple.  Finger foods are an elegant way to start the party and serve a dish that you feel most comfortable making for the main course.  Pork, Fish, or Chicken make for some of the easiest main dishes.  Once the menu is all figured out, print it up.  You can attach a copy of the menu printed white paper to card stock or download this free printable template from MarthaStewart.com, with printable directions on how to put together this beautiful menu.



Potluck Desserts: After a long night of preparing and cooking, a fun way to get the guests engaged in conversation while having your work cut down a little is by hosting a “Potluck Dessert”.  Each guest can bring a dessert to the party.  Desserts are a great conversational piece and a potluck is just the unique way to try others creations. (Tip: Vanilla ice-cream with fresh berries make for a nice presentation and very clean dessert; Shown Above: Vanilla Ice-Cream photo courtesy of iVillage.)


Shop Around For The Right (Affordable) Accessories:  There are tons of affordable serving pieces that can help you accessorize your dinner party without spending a lot.  Although it is important to make use of what table and silverware you have already, but splurging on an affordable new piece is just as okay. (Shown Above: Mable Serving Tray from Anthropologie $24.99).  


Get Creative with the Mocktails & Cocktails:  This does not mean spending a small fortune on liqueur and wine.  Its actually the opposite.  One of the best parts about a mocktail is that most, if not all of the ingredients are just fruit and club sodas.  Cocktails can be inexpressive as well depending on the ones you make.  You can use TheKitchn.com and Pinterest to find some of most creative and affordable mocktail and cocktail recipes out there today.  Click the photo above to be get the recipe for this mocktail.  (Shown Above: Fizzy Water & Raspberries as seen on TheKitchn.com).


Add Music.  It is important to set the mood with the right music whether its classical, jazz, or something instrumental, to help people unwind after a long day.  Create a play list and save it under “Dinner Party Music” so you can always go back to it for another event.


For tips and tricks on how to make space in your home for a bigger crowd, be sure to read this great article from the DIY Network and be sure to check back for more great “Entertaining on a Budget” categories from A Lot On Your Plate!

Happy hosting!

A Lot On Your Plate





  1. I love the ideas! I agree – a table runner and candles are such easy and relatively cheap ways to make your dinner party chic. And great minds think alike – I used Martha’s menu template that you posted last year for a Thanksgiving party! :)

  2. What a great post and fantastic ideas. I will be using some of them at my next dinner party.

  3. Hi Jess!
    Your site is gorgeous. I love it! Congratulations :)
    Your ideas are great, as always. Thanks for sharing

  4. Congrats on becoming a .com! I am loving the site, it’s beautiful!

  5. Candles are a wonderful way to create an elegant feeling! I also love the Martha Stewart menu – I searched through her wedding site last year for our wedding. She has a lot of great templates!

  6. Such a great post! We love entertaining and I’ve used many of your tips to make the experience not only enjoyable and memorable, but affordable as well! Love the links, especially the one for the Esty table runners! Use table runners all the time and yet have never thought to look on Esty to purchase them!

  7. Loved the post and the new website :)

  8. All the ideas are wonderful, Jess. The mocktail is great, my favorite.
    Blessings to you – Maxi

  9. Love the roses with lemons

  10. Great post and awesome ideas. Loved the lemon and
    Flowers idea.. So elegant and beautiful.

  11. Excellent idea re roses and lemons, might use that in the future!!

  12. Thanks for these great tips! I never thought of printing the menu–so pretty. I highly recommend Goodwill and consignment shops as sources for vases, serving dishes, and other decorative items at amazing prices.

  13. These are awesome tips, love the printable menu! Very inexpensive way to be very dressed up on the table.

  14. I blog quite often and I really thank you for your information.
    The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your site
    and keep checking for new details about once per week.
    I opted in for your Feed as well.

  15. DIY is definitely the way to go! Your list has all the essentials for creating the perfect table settings without the intimidation factor, Very diverse, inexpensive and professional options! Thanks for providing us with some cheaper alternatives without compromising style.

  16. I love cooking and entertaining. You have some great and affordable entertaining ideas. Will be following your blog for more. Thanks!

  17. This is so full of great ideas! Thanks…

  18. I often buy big sized napkins in different colours at IKEA, and then use them with some beautiful napkin rings I got for Christmas. Really frugal, but looks real fancy!

  19. Hello!
    I am loving your blog, thank you so much for all the great ideas. I just nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog” award. http://bunnykitchen.com/2013/06/07/one-lovely-blog-award/
    Keep up the fabulous work. :)

    Random Facts About Me:

    1. I am one of seven siblings, one from the same parents, two step-siblings, two half sisters and one adopted brother.

    2. For high school I went to a boarding academy in the middle of fields in Washington state. When I arrived in the late 80s we could not wear jeans to class!

    3. I ran my first (and last) marathon in 2006.

    4. I have lived in 8 different states over the past 15 years and visited 14 countries.

    5. I became a vegan 3 years ago and have never looked back – I feel so much better!

    6. I hate socks and would like to live in a place where you can either wear boots or sandals all year around.

    7. I want to write a memoir, even if no one reads it!

    Here are the blogs I would like to nominate for the “One Lovely Blog” Award:

    1. http://www.crazyrawvegan.com

    2. http://www.eatingwell.com

    3. http://www.alotonyourplate.wordpress.com

    4. http://www.katelikestocreate.com

    5. http://www.thekitchn.com

    6. http://www.theppk.com

    7. http://www.ohsheglows.com

  20. I really like the idea of potluck desserts! I never thought of that; I’ve been to several potluck parties but never a dessert potluck. It’s such a great idea if you’re hosting the party; one less thing you have to worry about and you’ll get so many varieties of desserts! Love it!

  21. Thanks, Jessica. You have brilliant and affordable ideas and they are still, as you say, elegant.

  22. In this regard mention has to be made of the wooden blinds
    which grow in their physical looks with the passage of time.
    Replace the tilt wand by removing the blinds from the window.
    Vertical blinds are generally the most cost effective.

  23. Hi Jess!!…Thank you for checking out my blog, (Yumtastic Khana) liking my post and following me!!…I love this post of your’s and also the DIY at home facial!!…Quick question…the candles have been placed on a reflective runner in the picture. Is it glass or some shiny fabric??


  24. What great ideas! Great post :)

  25. Storybook says:

    Love the mocktail idea – especially for kids who want to have a grown up party. Thanks!

  26. What beautiful and great ideas! Thank you for sharing!

  27. Love it! Lots of great ideas :)


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