Melissa d’Arabian, Ingrid Hoffmann, and Elizabeth Chambers Hammer on how to blow your guests’ minds — on a budget
The Fourth of July can be one expensive birthday party.
According to 2015 data from the National Retail Foundation, Americans spend more than $6.6 billion on BBQs and cookouts to celebrate our country’s founding.
But whether you’re the host with the most, or it’s just your turn to throw the rosé-filled soirée for your friends, Moneyish turned to some of the biggest names in the food world for tips on how to entertain without breaking the bank — for Fourth of July or any outdoor BBQ bash this summer.
Food Network star and Ten Dollar Dinners author Melissa d’Arabian, Telemundo’s Ingrid Hoffmann of Top Chef and Elizabeth Chambers Hammer of the famed BIRD Bakery dish their money-saving tips to light up any party.
1. Be a station master: Do a self-serve cocktail station with a signature drink — to shave off stress and save on the drink budget. “I like to always make it simple and pick a signature drink. That way you don’t need to stock up the bar with all sorts of alcohol and give people choices,” says Hoffmann. “Rather, set up a self-service station and the signature drink. That dictates the theme of the event — and helps you narrow down your menu.”
2. Try a beer cocktail: “One drink I love is a beer cocktail with tequila and blood orange sorbet,” Hoffman says. “[It’s] super refreshing and, often, beer is inexpensive. You can put one scoop [of sorbet] at the bottom and then throw a shot of tequila in and top it with beer.”
Makes 4 servings.
· 1 lime, quartered
· 1 cup blood orange sorbet
· ¾ cup silver tequila
· 4 (12-ounce) bottles light beer, chilled
· 4 blood orange or orange rounds, for garnish
For each serving, squeeze the juice of 1 lime quarter into a tall glass. Add 1 scoop (about ¼ cup) sorbet and 3 tablespoons of tequila and mix with a long spoon. In two stages, letting the foam subside between pours, carefully fill the glass with beer. Garnish with an orange round. Serve immediately.
3. Less is more: Do fewer dishes, but more of each dish. “When you have a lot of options, people will take one of everything, take one bite and throw it away,” says d’Arabian. “Whatever list you’re making, look at the list and pick one or two things to remove. Cross them out; don’t make them.”
4. Be corny: D’Arabian says, “Do a grilled corn bar — get ears of corn (which are often inexpensive), grill up the corn, and then you can set up a fun condiment corn topping bar with cotija cheese, butter, parmesan, Mexican spices, smoked paprika, or fresh chopped herbs.”
5. Swap out steak to cut costs. Pork butt can cost as much as 50% less than other cuts of pork, like the loin, and can cost even less than other meats, like steak. “For outdoor grilling, pork is always inexpensive because you can find inexpensive cuts. Everybody likes it, and you can combine it with ingredients like pineapple and a nice glaze,” Hoffmann recommends. Pork served with grilled pineapple skewers comes across as sophisticated and fun, but won’t run up the budget, either.
6. Decor counts. How you decorate matters just as what you serve, says Hammer. “It’s really easy to make an impression without spending a lot of money; the first way you can do this is through lighting,” she suggests. Hanging inexpensive string lights over your outdoor space creates an environment that’s “luminescent, magical, and [has] that extra glow.”
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