How to Host a Low-cost, No-stress Dinner Party

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Entertaining friends and family in your home is a much bigger undertaking than many people realize. While it may seem like a more "low-key" option than going out, in reality, there are a lot of things that go into a successful dinner party. It's no wonder that a host can easily get carried away and spend more money than intended. To help combat this trend, read on for tips to help you plan an entertaining, original dinner party without overspending.

Keep it small.
Oftentimes, people go overboard when planning dinner parties, especially during the summer season and the holidays. You can prevent this by limiting your guest list to a number that will fit comfortably into the space you have (comfortably being the operative word). A good rule of thumb is to only invite as many people as can be seated around the table (without cramming extra chairs in the corners). If you're determined to have a larger guest list, you might consider skipping dinner in favor of appetizers and cocktails.

Keep it simple.
Avoid the temptation of going all-out gourmet for your dinner party -- it's extremely expensive and highly unnecessary. Instead, pull out your cookbooks or do some online searching. There are plenty of Web sites that have full menus prepared, which can be searched by occasion, main ingredient, or any number of other identifying factors. And you're bound to find something that will be both delicious and cost-effective.

A good goal to have is to make your event a reflection of you. You want your guests to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. Don't worry about impressing them with fancy caviar or overpriced champagne. Odds are, your guests will appreciate a relaxed, well-executed get-together more than a stuffy, ultra-glam event, anyway.

Embrace technology.
There are hundreds of online recipe and cooking forums. With just a little bit of research, you can find a wealth of great ideas for easy, delicious appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts and even cocktails (or mocktails for the non-drinking set -- always keep your guests in mind!).