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Entertaining Like a Millionaire on a Retirement Budget

By Elizabeth Dunkel July 01, 2019 Lifestyle

I have long believed that taking someone into your home and giving them a meal is one of the kindest and most luxurious things you can do. The world is a noisy, busy place.

We are all involved in our own little dramas. And the act of being invited in from the cold (even when it’s hot!) is a true delight. To be treated kindly, to be fed is a luxury of the highest order.

I have a lifetime of entertaining behind me. This includes all the usual events and occasions that raising a family and being a business woman entail. So now, in my retirement, entertaining doesn’t have to be the stress and fuss. It does not require the good china, complicated recipes and champagne.

Just because you are living on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t entertain beautifully.

Remember, style and taste have nothing to do with money. It’s all about positioning, attitude and joie de vivre. It’s about making an effort and making some feel special, which is: priceless.

I wanted to share with you some of the ways I entertain with big heart and not a lot of money. I’m all for ease and casualness, albeit with lots of style thrown in. I mean, who doesn’t like to be cooked for?

Come for Breakfast!

Who says dinner is the only time to entertain? Breakfast is a treat, an unusual occasion to get someone out of the house for a great start to their day. Breakfast foods are not expensive. Eggs and bacon, a sautéed tomato and crispy toast is the ultimate glam. Bake a little something super easy if you like, or maybe some biscuits or muffins.

A lot of wonder for very little money. Plus, it’s a unique time of day and not often considered for entertaining. Your friends will be charmed. Needless to say, brunch is included in this category.

Just remember to add your own special touch. You don’t want to be so casual as to be setting a table in front of your friends. A pre-set table immediately makes someone feel special and waited for. An edible centerpiece can be a pretty bowl filled with always gorgeous fruit (that you’ll eat now, or later). Hot coffee and tea perfume the house and welcome guests whilst you cook up a dreamy breakfast.

I Invite Friends for ‘Breakfast for Dinner’

Here’s a dinnertime invitation with a twist. And who doesn’t love a twist?! A change from the ordinary! Plus, you’ll save on a liquor bill. It’s a meal that doesn’t go with alcohol, but it always garners attention and smiles. And if you do want to serve alcohol, a good Bloody Mary can be inexpensive compared to a bottle of fine wine.

What’s my breakfast for dinner? A pancake supper with different toppings. Waffles with sausages, or waffles with fresh fruit. And for dessert? Waffles with ice cream. Everyone loves an “occasion,” something out of the ordinary, and this is it.

Breakfast for dinner

Let’s Meet Tomorrow in a Cafe. My Treat!

We all love to be thought of, to be invited. Think of it, when you answer the phone and someone says, “I’d like to invite you tomorrow for coffee.” Doesn’t it make you feel cool, special, wanted? And all you’ve spent is for a cup of coffee and maybe a nibble. Cafe sitting is an art, a luxurious time spent talking, dreaming, plotting.

Come for Spaghetti

Or, burgers, or soup and sandwiches. I used to give complicated dinner parties, serving time consuming dishes such as coq au vin or beef wellington. My guests had a good time, I was stressed if something didn’t turn out like I had hoped, not to mention, exhausted.

Now, entertaining has to be fun for me too. I realized that my more successful evenings were when I prepared food that was casual but always super delicious. This allowed me to socialize too. It’s all about delicious, not fancy.

The Comfort Food Dinner

No spending on filet mignon and fresh oysters, candles and champagne. Your friends will feel special and loved walking into a kitchen where a plate of sexy, overstuffed sandwiches and a pot of simmering homemade soup on the stove awaits them. And you can combine it with an occasion.

Who doesn’t like to be invited for a big pot of chili whilst watching the election returns, or the Rio Olympics? It’s all about the presentation and your sense of occasion.

Come for Tea

It’s not lunch, it’s not dinner, it’s tea. Tea time is a throwback to a gentler life. You can only do tea time, really, if you’re not working. Hey, that’s us! I guarantee you, your friends will be positively delighted to be invited for tea. It’s low cost — some cucumber sandwiches, maybe a few Dark Chocolate Crackles or a Sharlotka that you can toss together in a few minutes, and you’ve got a party. If all goes well, it can slip into cocktail hour.

Organize a Pot Luck

People love a person who can organize. All you do is pick up the phone and everyone says, what a great idea, why haven’t we done this more often? You provide the house, they each bring a dish, and it’s a party. Oh, and everyone’s happy. The cost is shared and the pleasure is huge.

We all like to feel special. We all like to be treated well. We get stuck in our ruts and routines. So be the person who calls out of the blue and says, “Come for…” Easy and light hearted is the ticket. You’ll feel good doing it, have a great time, and be invited in return. Win, win, win.

What tips can you share for budget entertaining? Do you like to entertain? Which one of these entertaining ideas appeals to you most? Please join the conversation below.

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The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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