Entertaining on a Budget

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By Salima Jivraj, Food writer  Contact: food@masalamommas.com

Planning any party or gathering at any time and for anyone, your main topic will likely be budget. Cutting corners is not always easy, especially when dealing with food. Here’s how we managed to plan a Parisian themed bridal shower with minimal funds for maximum wow factor.


Bringing in a theme


A theme adds a bit of excitement and provides you with inspiration for just about everything. Our bride to be loves pink. She’s also a romantic, a foodie and loves the finer things in life. A few of my fellow co-organizers started researching themes that would fit that persona and Parisian was a perfect match. That sparked our creative ignition and we were all off on our respected areas of food, decor, favours and games to plan the perfect bash.

 

 

 


The dollar store, clearance sections and your grandmother’s basement are your best friends!


Most things like decor only need to last the day because chances are you won’t use it again, so dollar and discount stores are a good place to start. We found these beautiful contemporary white plastic bowls (pictured above) for some of our savory munchies like pretzels and chips for $1 each. Don’t forget the seasonal stuff at higher end stores too like heart shaped cookie cutters bought on clearance after Valentine’s Day (tied with a pretty pink ribbon) as party favours for your guests. Platters, trays etc. are another big expense but it can be avoided by looking through family member’s storage. You never know what else you’ll find! Basements are a great source for our photo booth props as well.

 

Take advantage of the season


We started planning our Parisian pink, white and black theme in late January. Since valentine’s day was just around the corner we decided to add in a candy bar and buy out as much pink candy as we could the day after Valentine’s Day for clearance prices.

 

 


 

Think outside of the box


These days people don’t necessarily need a formal sit down dinner. Things are more casual and often people enjoy the mingling atmosphere of a cocktail style party over a traditional sit down dinner. You’ll only need to serve finger foods and a lot of it can be purchased in your frozen section in bulk for fairly inexpensive. A good tip is to hold it a little later in the evening like 7:30 or 8:00pm. Also, be clear by setting expectations and letting them know what type of party this will be when you invite them.


 

Keeping it simple
Instead of complex menu items that are gourmet and intricate, we keep items bite sized and used inexpensive ingredients like minced meat, potato and eggs. Try and use as much in season produce as possible as they will be sourced locally.

Most importantly, to ensure your event is a hit, be enthusiastic with all aspects of the entertaining because it’s contagious (and free!)

Sriracha Meatball Skewers (pictured above)
Yeild: roughly 35-40 meatballs

Ingredients
2 lb ground boneless chicken legs
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
4 green onions chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger/garlic paste
1/3 cup Sriracha (adjust to taste)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
oil for pan frying
3-4 medium sized sweet bell peppers cubed
35-40 cherry tomato (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients, mixing well, but not over mixing. Form into 1.5” balls (makes approx. 35-40). Heat oil in pan over medium high heat on stovetop. Cook meatballs in pan until just browned. Bake in preheated oven about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow to cool and thread onto 10” bamboo skewers alternating with sweet bell pepper chunks and cherry tomatoes. We used two meatballs and three cubes of sweet bell pepper and/or one cherry tomato.

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