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Serve Up An Award-Winning Spread That Won’t Break The Bank

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Entertaining guests can be a taxing task. But, it can also be tons of fun, especially if you’ve got a special event on the calendar. Whether you’re hosting a birthday celebration, a gathering of foodies or a special viewing party, here are some tips on where to save and when to splurge—to make it look (and taste) like you’re the star.

Speaking of plating, you can upgrade almost any dish with fancy flatware

Silver Linens

Save the paper towels and napkins for cleanup and opt for linen napkins instead. And don’t stop at the lap napkin. Go for red-carpet appeal with linen tablecloths, too. If you don’t own either, get creative and try other home linens as comparable replacements. If you’re lucky, you might find perfectly priced white linen hand towels that can double as cloth napkins. And when it comes to utensils, roll them up.

Stemware Everywhere

Regardless of your beverage serving options, serve it up in stemware. Orange juice goes great in a flute. Water looks prettier in a wine glass. And speaking of water, have still and sparkling on hand. If you’re worried about cleanup, plastic drinkware is a viable alternative and can look just as lovely. Some of it even comes glittered with gold.

Lights, Camera, Action!

One of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of any gathering, is lighting. What works best to shine a spotlight on your event night might not necessarily need to be that bright. Set the tone for your party with ambient lighting, electric candles, real candles, whatever you want! For watch parties, dim the lights down low and ensure optimal viewing ability.

And don’t forget to supply ample seating that’s comfy and accessible. Did someone say floor pillows?

Just Say “Cheese” (…and Charcuterie)

An award-winning cheese plate is usually a hit. The addition of delectable dried and cured meats also helps to make it the perfect party starter. There are a few ways to go about this cheesy endeavor. You could DIY it and select your own favorites for sharing. Or, purchase an already prepared tray at the grocery store and re-plate it on a cutting board for a more rustic look.

Interesting Ingredients

Sometimes fine dishes feature the most unusual ingredients. Start your party off with some intriguing previews. Small plates and bitesize bits fit for sharing can be curated with unsuspecting items to pique the palates of your invitees. But that doesn’t mean you have to go right for sea urchin.

Figs are thought of as an upscale fruit and can accompany many dishes, like fig and stilton squares. Always considered a dish for the rich and famous, caviar can be tempting to any discerning palate. Want an inexpensive and easy way to integrate it into your menu? Try 7-minute salmon caviar sushi bites.

Get Saucy

Sauces serve as a great supporting role to any side dish or appetizer. And many are easy to make. Whether you’re setting it out for dipping or spreading it on ceramic to style up your plating, everyone loves a good sauce. Fondue is also an easy-to-make appetizer option for cheese and chocolate lovers.

Dishes to Dine For

Speaking of plating, you can upgrade almost any dish with fancy flatware. Paper and plastic make for easy cleanup but why not go the extra mile when it comes to serving partygoers? And you don’t have to break the bank. Upgrade your cabinet and mix some classics with consignment finds. Resale shops and antique malls are filled with hidden treasures for the dining table.

Tall Orders

If you’re really not a kitchen pro, preorder your portions of beef, poultry, fish or vegetables and have your feature presentation prepared by culinary connoisseurs to ensure proper temperature and the perfect taste. If you have unused points, cash them on your priciest items to save even more on your party prep.

Stay Classy

Even after you’ve used every tip in the book, what if you just want to master making delicious dishes at home on your own? Prep for your upcoming party and play the starring role by taking cooking classes at your nearest culinary school. Gourmet kitchen outfitters, like Sur La Table, also offer classes to help you step up your chef skills.

Whether it’s a star-studded watch party or an intimate dinner for a few of your closest, you can still roll out the red carpet, no matter what your skill level is in the kitchen. Prep accordingly, ask for a little help (potluck anyone?) and just have fun.

This article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide medical or legal advice, or to indicate the availability or suitability of any product or service for your unique circumstances.

Capital One does not provide, endorse, or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

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