Labor Day Weekend is a great time for All-American Food. Many people choose to celebrate with the traditional barbecue and beer fare while others prefer different cuisines to make the holiday special.
The first thing to decide is whether you’re going to be going to host the party at the local park or in your own backyard. If you’re planning on hosting in the local park, check to see if they charge for usage of a picnic area. Usually state parks don’t, but city parks do. If you’re going to get charged, have it at your own home to save money.
Doing It All Yourself
Regardless of whichever one you choose, it’s ideal to have a potluck so that you’re not going to be responsible for providing all the food. To avoid having all main or side dishes with no dessert, assign your guests a category of food to share.
Make a list of items you would like to cook for your party, then list the ingredients you think you’ll need. Before you even begin shopping, go through your kitchen to see what you have and how much you have on hand. You’d be shocked at what you might have on hand.
And if your cookbook calls for a spice that’s very expensive and that you’ll probably only use once, consider purchasing a substitute.
I also recommend buying items in bulk. If you’re having a barbecue, buying your meat from a warehouse store like Sam’s or Costco will save you a lot of cash. And flipping through grocery store ads to see what items they have on sale won’t hurt you either.
If you’re into the barbecuing (What’s more American than barbecuing?), a great way to have a quality barbecue without the price tag is to offer a variety of shish kabobs, burgers (doesn’t have to be the premium kind), and chicken. Having tenderloin, steaks, and ribs are great but expensive. And shish kabobs always look good and beautiful in any occasion.
Plates and Utensils
If you’re hosting the party at your own home, you can use whatever sets of plates and utensils you have at your house. Lugging all that to the park might be inconvenient, but if you’re in the comfort of your own home…..
Worried about not having everything match or hosting the party outside? Then consider going to your local Sam’s Club or Costco, and buying a neutral color themed stack of paper plates. I recommend buying either the Dixie Ultra Large Paper Plates (170 count for approximately $14) or the Chinet Dinner Plates (165 count for approximately $15.50). These are great investments because everything’s cheaper in bulk and you can save these paper plates for you or your kids’ next engagement. We’ve had the same stack of Chinet at our house for 3 years now. If you’re concerned about the same guests’ seeing repeatedly the same paper plate design, then go with the Chinet as it’s a white heavy duty paper plate.
One of the largest items that can break a wallet is alcohol. Instead of providing an open bar full of liquors and mixers, which can total to a rather large sum, consider having a bar of beers and wines.
If you know when your party will be, you can start flipping through your local grocery store ads which get mailed to your house every week and look for deals on beers and wines. I’ve seen 20 bottle packs of Bud Select for $12 before.
With wines, another great way to save is to make sangria. You can use a very cheap wine, dress it with some fruit juice (I recommend tropical flavor) and mix it with fruit. Depending on how you present your sangria, it can look expensive.
And if you must go for the liquors, provide one or two pre-made cocktails that use fruit juices as mixers instead of liqueurs.
Part of our eating experience involves devouring with our eyes. Serving platters can be expensive, and may not even go with the holiday. We wouldn’t want to use that Christmas-themed ham plate to be displayed on Labor Day. But what we can do is to dress that other holiday themed plate with linen napkins to make it look nice and even expensive. There’s a reason that restaurants serve their bread in a basket lined with linen.
Skip out on the mail-in card invitations. Yes, they may look nice, but evite or even a personal phone call will accomplish the job just fine.
Don’t discount the Dollar Store. These days, not all dollar stores mean cheap quality. I’ve bought packs of 50 plastic forks and knives for $1 at my local Deals. And they were the heavy duty kind too.
Quite a few have started carrying food items. I have seen cans of nuts that usually fetch $3 a can at your local Walgreen’s or grocery store in dollar stores. Having a nice bowl of cashews or mixed nuts will add color and variety to your party.