Slow-cook. You don’t have to serve lobster to have a memorable dinner party. Stewing uses inexpensive cuts of meat, but the results taste great and you get to spend more time with your guests, says Patrick Cuccaro, general manager of Affairs to Remember Caterers, in Atlanta.
Skip costly desserts. Serve premium ice cream instead, Cuccaro suggests. Or fill a fluted glass with an inexpensive Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and drop in a scoop of sorbet.
Buy wine by the case. Many stores will give you a 10 percent discount, says Bob Luskin, proprietor, Bell Wine & Liquor Shoppe, in Washington, D.C. You may not want 12 bottles of the same Chablis, of course, so ask the manager if you can mix different wines in a discounted case.