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entertaining on a budget  
by Patricia Virella
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continued from page 2

just desserts
Dessert, in my opinion, is a necessary ending to dinner. You can make a cheap, very delicious dessert, without investing much money or time, by dressing up ordinary sweets in a more party-appropriate manner. Dollop pudding or custard in a fancy glass, and sprinkle with coconut shavings or nuts, chocolate chips or shavings. Garnish good vanilla ice cream with those cookies that are sold four for a dollar (I like the ones with the pink icing in the middle to add color to the dish). Or keep it really simple, with a scoop of sorbet topped with a fresh mint sprig. Dessert doesn’t have to be extravagant; just sweet and yummy. Other easy recipes are lemon mousse spooned into hollowed lemons, and orange juice and creamsicle frozen cups (to make these fruity treats, simply place a scoop of vanilla or strawberry ice cream in a cup and pour orange juice around. Then freeze until firm.)

delegate the duties
Lastly, think about how the guests can get involved so as to help you save more. One of the easiest ways to spend less on your party is to ask the guests bring beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). This works especially well when you theme up your dinner. If you’re doing a Spanish theme, provide the paella yourself, and ask each guest to bring one ingredient to make the sangria. It’ll make your friends feel more included and keep your check book smiling as well.

o o o

The main thing to keep in mind when you’re having a dinner party is that the focus is on good eating and a great time. So don’t kill yourself trying to make the most expensive extravagant dishes. Spaghetti and meatballs, made well, can give a group of friends the same fulfillment as lobster dinners. Enjoy your company, and make sure that the dishes you’re making won’t prevent you from doing so. Serve family style and talk for hours on end. Have fun…and if the instructions for a dish you’re contemplating serving take longer to read than the dish takes to cook, skip it and make something you’re more comfortable with. In the end, it all comes down to how good the food tastes— not how much time or money you spent making it.


Patricia Virella was born in Spanish Harlem, and grew up entirely in NYC. She currently lives in Brooklyn and works at an advertising agency. She is also a student at the Adelphi University. When she's not throwing fabulous dinner parties on a shoestring budget, she enjoys spending time with her 6 and 9 year old nephews, as well as painting.

check  out these related articles: 
entertaining in small spaces | menu please | hosting a divine dinner party 

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