The silverware is clean and shiny. The floor is swept. The yard is mowed. The ice trays are cracked. The Coq au Vin is bubbling away. (Thanks, Grace.) Even though the dining room isn't yet decorated - not formally - she is painted thanks to Amber's Saturday save. Reckon this old mid-renovation home is about as ready as she'll ever be for another influx of hungry, happy people.
Do you entertain much? I notice I have ... increasingly so... since buying this house. Perhaps it's because I have the space. And a good location. And no one, on a daily basis, to cook for. Of course, it's more fun when you find ways to do it on the cheap. Here are my three stand-by rules for dinner parties:
1. Skip pricey bottled water for pretty pitchers filled with cool tap water and lemon slices or rosemary sprigs. And brew your own tea and coffee. Pre-bottled drinks (water, sodas, etc.) will run up a tab very quickly. Likewise, the more food you handle yourself - even breads and salads - the more you'll save. Pre-packaged food, including bagged salads, is so expensive. This week my grocery store had bunches of lettuce on 2-for-$1. Compared to $2.99 for a little bag of wilted-looking greens, DIY salad was a no-brainer.
2. Use cloth napkins and your own dishes and utensils to save on paper products. And look for things around the house or yard or park to serve as centerpieces. Throw in some candles and great music and call it a party.
3. Most importantly, I think, is shying away from buffet-type meals when you're the only one paying and cooking. (Occasionally I'll do a dessert buffet with a hot chocolate bar. Something like that. That's one thing; all-you-can-eat, serve yourself feeding frenzies are another.) When you're doing a knife-and-fork meal and dish up the plates before they leave the kitchen, you can really control the amount of food that's prepared and consumed. And you don't have to deal with leftovers.
It all adds up, doesn't it? Even the napkins and bottled water. I like knowing I can throw a great party on a tight budget. And I like knowing people can come over and enjoy a good meal without me skipping the water bill next month.
So, yeah. Two days, two parties. I've promised myself that this weekend I'm going to be impossibly lazy. I'm going to sleep until 8 o'clock in the morning and eat a cheeseburger and watch Catch and Release and start reading The Glass Castle....
...But first we have to get there.