Entertaining guests is quite an endeavor. From planning the event to purchasing supplies, crafting the menu, and setting everything up before their arrival, you have a lot to get done. Even the closest family members can make for a tough crowd, and you want to wow your company throughout the occasion.
Ready to make an impact at your next at-home event? Inexpensive tools add style and function to any meal, impressing guests with minimal effect on your wallet.
If you're dining indoors, lighting is key to the event's ambiance. Since you don't want friends and family struggling to see each other, switch out outdated overhead lighting for more modern, daylight-style bulbs. These boost the vibe by adding bright, natural illumination to any room, so your guests can easily catch up on gossip as they pass the next dish. You can purchase a 10-pack for around $30 at big box stores nationwide, and they're easy to find online.
A roasting plank infuses meat and veggie dishes with a distinct smoky flavor, instantly upgrading the entire meal. This affordable tool not only arouses the taste buds, however; it doubles as a stylish serving dish. You can purchase a full set at the local hardware or kitchen store for less than $10, with more expensive versions ranging up to the $50 mark. Available in numerous wood types and colors, you can also polish them with food-safe paint to align with a specific theme, holiday, or event.
If you really want to wow guests, this sleek tool is all that you need. Ideal for serving up edgy artisan cocktails or desserts like crème brûlée, use a torch to incorporate some flambée into the meal and invigorate the crowd quickly. You can find a basic version at most big box stores, with prices around the $10 mark. Classier designs start around $25, and you'll have to head to specialty kitchen shops.
Cheap, rustic, and multi-use, cheesecloth can aid the entire cooking process, helping to strain sauces, capture solids, wrap herbs, and eliminate fats from your favorite dishes, all while adding a rustic touch to the table. A bonus? It's also excellent for preparing fresh fruit drinks and cocktails. Find it by the square yard for about $5, available online or at kitchen specialty stores.
Available in sleek metal, wood, and rubber versions, mallets are ideal for flattening or tenderizing meats, boosting flavor for a fraction of the price of traditional meat tenderizers. Not reserved just for carnivores, you can also crush fruit, ice, and vegetables for an array of flavorful recipes. Every good kitchen should have a mallet on hand, and you can find an assortment of options for just $5 to $10.
Serving multiple appetizers or desserts? Enhance your table with a selection of chic three to five-tiered trays. You can find these in an assortment of colors, styles, and designs; many are available in collapsible versions for more convenient serving. Not only will this elevate your display — quite literally — but you'll have stylish centerpieces that show off your hosting expertise.
Simplify dishing up by grabbing colorful pairs of restaurant-style tongs for each dish, and let guests serve themselves. Convenient for grabbing piping meats or carrying corn across the table, polished pairs in coordinating hues can really up the ante; seek out scalloped tips for increased hold. While prices vary by size and shade, you can find a standard set for around $15 online or in specialty stores.
You'll be refilling bottles and beverages all night, so pick up a funnel to offset any spillage. Invest in a multi-pack with varying sizes, and leave them out so guests can mix and match drinks to their hearts' content. For hosts offering an assortment of mixers, mix-ins, and beverage options, this helps guests participate in the serving process without making a mess. Usually, you can buy a three-pack for under $5, so it's easy to load up.
Give guests a cute, creative way to play with their food. Utility and aesthetics mix perfectly with butter knife sets, available in miniature editions that pop against each guest's plate setting. Mini knives are sold in an extensive variety of designs, so you can find something that plays on your event's theme — or, better yet, to the individual guest. An ideal party favor, your company will appreciate the extra effort and won't have to spend time searching for missing utensils when the cravings kick in.
Up your display game while protecting your surfaces with decorative trivets. Sold in countless varieties within the $10-$15 range, these handy tools are a go-to for any host, keeping hot dishes a safe distance away from the table, absorbing all the heat so that your surface stays safe throughout the event. Choose the type that goes best with your theme or personal style; options range from chic fabric to rustic wood and rubber, and cork, that boosts liquid and stain absorption. Raised feet are also an option for any dishes you'll be handling frequently.