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Entertaining on a Budget: 15 Essentials Every Host Should Have

Entertaining on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or fun. Here are 15 essential items every host needs to throw a memorable gathering without breaking the bank.

Gathering around the dinner table is a wonderful way to spend an evening with friends or family.

Enjoying the company of friends, sharing stories, and of course eating delicious food are all reasons you need to plan a dinner party soon.

But what about the cost?

I’m here to tell you that hosting a party at home doesn’t have to be expensive.

With a little creativity and planning you can host a super fun and memorable event without spending a fortune.

Whether you’re hosting a casual dinner party with friends, a girl’s night in, or a family birthday celebration there are several basic items that will help make your gathering a success.

These essentials are staples that I keep on hand to help me entertain on a budget.

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How to Entertain on a Budget

stemless and regular wine glasses and silverware on table

You don’t need fancy dishes, flatware, or glasses to throw an amazing get-together.

Some of the best parties happen right in your backyard with paper plates and plastic cups.

But if you’re planning a dinner party then you may want to pull out some of your dinnerware to serve your guests a delicious meal.

I often use my everyday dishes and serving pieces when I entertain.

If you stick to the basics when purchasing items for your home then it’s easy to use them when you’re hosting a party.

Keep everything neutral when buying dining essentials so that it’s simple to change the tablescape and place settings depending on the theme of your event.

What is an Entertaining Capsule?

stacks of plates and dipping bowls

Have you ever heard of a capsule wardrobe?

It’s a collection of clothing that you thoughtfully curate to allow pieces to be interchangeable in your wardrobe.

The idea is that you’ll need less clothing because you can mix and match your favorite items that you feel great in.

Creating an entertaining capsule follows the same concept as a wardrobe capsule.

You collect basic items that you can use when designing different tablescapes for entertaining.

The pieces in your entertaining capsule should be simple so they coordinate with a variety of party themes.

If you start with a neutral base that can be used for any theme, you can add your other table decor to create an unforgettable design for your party.


neutral place settings on dining tablescape for Mother's day

One of the first things you’ll need in an entertaining capsule is dinnerware.

Although, there are some beautiful patterned dishes available you’ll want a quality set of neutral plates that goes with everything.

I have a set of dishes from Pottery Barn that I absolutely love and have been used in most of my tablescapes.

The Joshua dinnerware set is a bit more expensive but these are my everyday dishes so the quality is important.

Try to use your everyday dishes as part of your entertaining capsule so you don’t have to store another set of plates.

I’d also suggest using white plates so that you can jazz them up with accessories later.

This white dinnerware set from Amazon has great reviews if you’re looking for a more affordable option.

Drinking Glasses

black slate tray with wood handles on wicker table four wine glasses and bottle of unopened wine on tray

A basic set of wine glasses is a good starting point when building your entertaining capsule.

If you’re just starting out you don’t need to have a bunch of different wine glasses for different types of wine.

Get a wine glass that’s a decent size so that you can use it to serve white or red wine or even some cocktails.

Easter centerpiece with faux tulips and neutral place settings

Rather than a separate stemmed wine glass for red and white wine, you may want to invest in a stemless option.

I like the casual feel of these basic stemless wine glasses when entertaining.

Sometimes I’ll set a table with both a regular stemmed wine glass for wine and a stemless glass for water.

And it looks a bit fancy to use both types of glasses next to each other at each place setting.

tray with pitcher of tea, lemons and hobnob glasses on table

Another glass that you may want to consider is a drinking glass.

Our everyday glasses get a bit etched from constantly going through the dishwasher cycles.

I invested in this set of pretty glasses with a hobnail detail several years ago.

They hang on a drying rack on my wall so they double as kitchen wall decor when not being used.


Galentine's brunch placesettings next to floral centerpiece with lit candles

If you were lucky enough to get a set of silverware for your wedding don’t be afraid to break it out and use it when you’re throwing your next party.

Don’t leave it stored away for a special occasion…this is your special day!

Traditional silverware never goes out of style and coordinates with many table place setting ideas.

But if you want something a little more modern Anne and I both have and love this affordable gold flatware set from Target.

Chargers and Placemats

woven jute placemat with wood charger and white plates styled on table

When you’re throwing a party you’ll want to make each place setting look special.

If you’re not using a tablecloth on your table then you may want to consider using placemats or chargers.

Both a placemat and charger can be used to create a beautiful place setting with lots of texture.

These pretty wood chargers from Kirkland’s are perfect for adding warmth to the plain white plates.

I waited a long time to buy these wood charges because they were a bit expensive but then they went on sale and I was able to purchase them

I found a very similar option from Amazon you can see under the sources below.

backyard table styled for Father's day

As you can see here this tablescape is outdoors and has a more casual theme so I didn’t feel the need for a charger and placemat.

Using just a round woven placemat adds so much texture to the table.

A budget-friendly round natural jute placemat is a great basic item to have on hand for entertaining.

They can be dressed up or down depending on the style of your table.

Serving Pieces

dining room buffet table styled with wood risers, wicker baskets and faux greenery

Look around your home for items that can serve a dual purpose.

Do you have a wood tray on your kitchen island that can also be used when entertaining?

Maybe a pedestal or trivet that holds a candle on your console table would make a great addition to your tablescape.

If you’re just starting out then look for neutral pieces like wood, marble, iron, or even glass.

Wicker baskets are perfect for serving crackers, chips, or bread.

White serving bowls and platters will coordinate with your white dinnerware and can be styled for any theme.


view of thanksgiving tablescape with window behind

An affordable way to add color to your table is with linens.

I often use placemats rather than a tablecloth so I like to add cloth napkins to each place setting to bring in color and texture.

However, nothing beats a neutral fringed linen napkin like these in your entertaining capsule.

I’ve used these napkins over and over again because they go beautifully with so many different styles.

Mason Jars

lemons in bowls on top of placesetting with striped napkin, white plate and seagrass charger

You don’t have to own expensive vases and fill them with flowers to create a stunning centerpiece.

Look how stunning average mason jars can be when grouped together.

Use a large 16 oz. mason jar as a substitute vase for flowers and a single stem in each allows you to see the beauty of the flower.

Combine the large regular jars with shorter wide-mouth mason jars used as candle holders.


votive glass candles in mason jars as part of tablescape

Speaking of candles, no party or tablescape is complete without them.

Candles add ambiance to your event, whether they’re tall candle sticks or small votives, there’s just something about the flickering light on the table.

Keep a set of these unscented white glass votives on hand so you’ll always have them for any occasion.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Sources: wine glasses | stemless wine glasses | clear glass pitcher | hobnail glasses | white serving bowls | wood trivet riser | round woven placemat | wood charger | votive candles | silverware set | white dinnerware set | 16 oz. Mason jars | 8 oz. Mason jars | fringed linen napkins | wood pedestal with handle | set of wood serving trays

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact us or leave a comment!

Don’t miss any of our tips, tricks, or stories!

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