I’ve been sharing all the details of the Christmas Ornament Making Party with you and today, for my final post on the party, I want to share the food with you. I love to entertain, but especially around the holidays, things can really start to add up. I wanted to share with you the great food I made for the party, and how I did it on a budget -all for about $100. Admittedly $100 isn’t cheap. But, I made two hot appetizers, plus other cold nibbles, a dessert table, and drinks. For this quality of food, I think it was a great price.
I know that some people just don’t have time to look for sales, and stop by multiple stores for a party, but if you have a little time, here’s how I did it on a budget. I started out by browsing the grocery store flyers the week before the party. I found a few things on sale, and thought about some budget conscious items that would still be great. I decided against a cheese tray -which is always expensive, and went with pulled pork since I found pork shoulder on sale for a $1 a pound. I went ahead and shopped the week before for some of the things I needed that I knew would keep. The next week, I hunted the flyers again, and what I couldn’t find on sale I bought at a cheaper grocery store. I used what I had in my fridge and pantry, and didn’t include it in the cost breakdown, since you would probably have things like vinegar, onion soup mix, and sugar too. Where I did need something -like eggs and onions, I included it. I did over buy, so in this break down, I only put down the one bag of chips we ate, rather than the 2 we bought, for example. There is a big lesson here when you’re trying to save money -don’t buy too much food. I never want to run out of food and always seem to err on the side of too much, but at least the food gets eaten as leftovers -we had pulled pork for days.
I started out with the pulled pork since I found the pork on sale. This was my main hot item for the party. I found a good crock pot recipe here, which also meant it could be made ahead.
I served it with a homemade coleslaw on slider buns, that were the perfect size. I had a friend who is gluten free attending. I offered her pork and slaw on its own but she didn’t want any, at least it was an option.
I wanted to do another hot item, and I also had a friend who is a vegetarian coming. I made perogies. They were simple frozen ones, garnished with a little sour cream and some fresh chives. They looked great, and were super easy. Simple food dressed up with a garnish and served individually is always a hit.
I also made some homemade humus and served it with some chips I made from pita bread, and rice crackers for my gluten free guest. Humus is really inexpensive when you make it yourself and always a hit. I also made a veggies and dip platter, and offered some kettle chips to go with the dip. Both were good vegetarian and gluten free options.
I wanted to offer my guests a few nice sweets too. Vanilla cupcakes are a fav. of mine. My go-to recipe for vanilla cupcakes has become the Barefoot Contessa’s coconut cupcakes, with the coconut left out, and with a plain vanilla icing.
They were delicious. I loved how retro they looked with the cute little Santas on top. I found the Santa ornaments at the dollar store, and added a toothpick to the bottom to make them into cupcake pics. Then I added a sprinkle of edible glitter.
Since the theme of the party was retro Christmas, I thought it would be fun to do some no-bake cheesecakes, since they’re a little retro too. I used this recipe. I served them in little mason jars, with some antique little spoons and they were really cute.
I wanted to offer some fruit for anyone who wanted a healthier option. I bought some berries -which everyone always seems to feel is a treat. By shopping the sales they weren’t too expensive and they looked great too.
One of my favourite additions to the dessert table were these walnut stuffed dates. I wanted to do at least one gluten free dessert and this was what I came up with. It was also a great option for anyone watching their weight. They were really simple…except for slitting the shell exactly in half. I found a tutorial on-line here, that suggests baking the shells first. I bought about 20 walnuts and ended up with about 16 good halves -which is less than 50% so…plan ahead and buy some extras.
I wanted the dates to look pretty, so I used an olive tray to serve them, and filled it with coarse sugar to keep the empty walnut shells from tipping over. I simply stuffed a walnut piece into half of a date, and placed it in the shell and added a little edible glitter (I promise I don’t have any shares in an edible glitter company, it’s just my new fav. Don’t worry I have enough room in my heart for it and spray paint.)
The last expense was the drinks. The homemade hot chocolate was expensive to make, but I think you could really taste that it was homemade from real milk -get the recipe here. A bunch of the items for the hot chocolate buffet were from the dollar store. I didn’t include the cost off the marshmallows in the breakdown, since I made them earlier in the week and didn’t keep the bill. All I had to buy was the gelatin -so probably a couple of bucks. I already had the Bailey’s and Kahlua, which helped. I picked up a couple of bottles of wine. The punch was a just juice and ginger ale, both found on sale. I already had some bottled water. I probably didn’t need this many drinks, but some of everything was used.
Here’s a break down of roughly what I spent, if you’re interested. As I mentioned, I used items from my pantry and fridge as well, but this is basically what I bought for the party.
pork $5 + onions $2 + eggs $3.25 + $3 slider buns = $13.25
perogies $2 + sour cream $2 + chives $1.50 = $5.50
rice crackers $3.25
carrots $1 + tomatoes $1 + cucumber $2 + peppers $2.50 + radishes $1 = $7.50
chick peas $1.25 + lemon $.50 + pitas $1 = $2.75
raspberries $3 + blueberries $2 + blackberries $2 = $7
dates + walnuts = $4
cream cheese $3 + lemon $.50 + cherry pie filling $2.50 +condensed milk $2.50 = $8.50
foil cupcake liners $2.50 + butter milk $3.50 + icing sugar $2 = $8
milk $4 + cream $3 + choc. chips $2.50 + condensed milk $2.50 + candy canes $1.50 + cinnamon sticks $2 + caramels $1 + choc. spoons $1 = $17.50
cranberry juice $2.50 + ginger ale $1 = $3.50
wine = $20
13.25 + 5.50 + 1.50 + 3.25 + 7.50 + 2.75 + 7 + 4 + 8.50 + 8 + 17.50 + + 3.50 + 20 = 104.75
Basically $100 -Not bad for two hot apps, dessert table, and drinks!
With food this lovely and all for about $100, life really is a party!