Eating out can be costly! Especially when there is a group of 6 of you and you go for a full 3 course meal
Nectar Card recently gave me the challenge of hosting a luxury dinner party for 6 people (I ended up hosting for 7. Oops. I didn't count myself as a guest) for the sum of £120, or the equivalent of 24,000 Nectar points
Nectar Points can be spent at Sainsbury's, Homebase, Argos, Laithwaite's, Ebay etc. So I had a whole host of places I could purchase from for this project
I started by obviously planning my guest list! Because this assignment is all about luxury, but on a budget, I wanted to obviously make invitations and invite everybody formally. But when the cheapest option to do this is a Facebook event, the Facebook event option will win. So I invited my guests and awaited their RSVP, and laid out the timings as well as the dress code of "Smart and Fancy"
Well, when we dress all smart and lovely, of course the dinner party will feel luxurious
For some reason, I decided to make my menu an Italian themed menu, but my decorations were all about festivities and Christmas. Don't ask me why I chose Italian rather than a festive menu, I have just always really enjoyed Italian food but I also feel like Italian food gives off a certain air of sophistication. Maybe it's the language, but "Strawberry Zabaione" sounds far more luxurious than "Christmas Pudding". You get me?!
I'm also not keen on the spices and flavours associated with Christmas sorry to say! So this is my interpretation of a good ol' christmas dinner party with loved ones, just minus the typical Christmas food
I ended up buying ALL of my table decorations from Sainsbury's, as well as the ingredients for the 3 courses and 3 bottles of wine and 1 Champagne. The other 2 bottles of wine (yes I had 6 bottles in total) I got from Laithwaite's
This was a duo of white wine that costs £20. OR, 4,000 Nectar points if you have that amount available. Cha ching. Money well spent considering the amount of places you can collect Nectar points from. Totally worth it to get free wine
I spent a whopping £100 at Sainbury's! But all of that was thanks to Nectar points and I only had to spend a fiver of my own money because I over-ran the budget wanting pretty things for the table and a small gift for my guests. I mean, I bought a candelabra for goodness sake! All in the name of a luxury dinner table centrepiece
My second order was for all of the ingredients needed for the Starter and Main, as well as the wines! I managed to find a great 2-for-1 offer on a great white wine, and a Champagne reduced down to £13. All of this came to £50.75. Again, I traded 10,000 Nectar points for a £50 voucher so it only cost me £0.75p
I also bought Sainsbury's own products rather than brand names to help keep the costs low, but there is no scrimping on flavour by doing this that is for sure
TIP: Always look out for offers! Such as "3 for this amount" or "2-for-1". Anything that helps you save money, even if you end up bulk buying for future use. I managed to get my wines discounted and the white wine was on a 2 for £10 offer. The Lindt chocolate I gave everybody as a gift was on a 2 for £4 offer rather than being £2.50 each
TIP: Where possible, always use stuff you already own! Like glasses, cutlery etc. I didn't need to buy any of this when I have some already for regular use. Same with the place cards, no need to pay for card when I already have paper within my printer
I even saved money on the entertainment, in that one of the guests can play jazz piano and didn't mind serenading us with some easy listening music in between courses. I also have to give a massive shout out to my friend Louise, as without her, this dinner party would have just been a meltdown of me stressing!
TIP: Utilise your skills, and your guests skills if they don't mind, rather than outsourcing or spending more money
The starter was easy in that it was French bread, pesto, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, a balsamic glaze, garnished with some fresh basil. We also had to make a non Pesto version as one of our guests is allergic to nuts. Me and Louise made several batches of this where guests could then help themselves rather than a formal starter
Even the cat wanted in on our dinner party and was starting to feel left out! The smell of the food and the cooking must have been too much to endure
The main was a Carbonara, and this was made with spaghetti and linguine (because Sainsbury's had to substitute ingredients as they didn't have enough Spaghetti), with double cream and Parmesan for the sauce and pancetta for all of the meat eaters. For the veggies it was asparagus, mushrooms and broccoli. It was served in bowls with lemon dressed rocket forming a ring around the pasta and garnished with fresh Parsley
The dessert was a Balsamic Strawberry Zabaione, which is indeed balsamic vinegar with strawberries. It sounds so wrong, but actually tastes so good! It was made with double cream whisked into firm peaks. Then I had to fold a sugar, egg yolk and madeira wine mixture into the whisked cream and refrigerate until ready to serve. I had to toss strawberries in sugar and balsamic vinegar and I dished those up into the bottom of champagne flutes, and topped with the cream mix which is known as the zabaione
The recipe for the Balsamic Strawberry Zabaione, and the basics of the Carbonara, I got from a new cooking app named CHOPCHOP and you can read more about it here. It's also a free app! Winning. Perfect for hosting dinner parties on the regular
Considering this was the first ever dinner party I had thrown, my guests felt very honoured and excited to have been invited and they tell me they loved our evening of sophistication
What do you think to my Luxury Dinner Party on a budget? Did I manage to succeed and make it seem luxurious and sophisticated?
Nectar Card provided me with 24,000 (approx £120) points to spend for this assignment