5 Under 5: Entertaining Solutions

In the survey, one of the things many of you indicated as a challenge keeping you from entertaining more, is the expense involved. You also noted that you often feel like you don't have enough entertaining supplies or serving items to throw a successful bash.

I totally understand these two issues, because they're ones that I have to deal with each time I host a party. I own quite a few serving pieces (too many, Eugene might say), but in order to create the atmosphere or theme I'm planning, I usually feel I like I have to go out and purchase a few special items. Whether it's retro platters for my 1960s Cocktail Party or pretty girly plates for a girl's brunch, I always end up spending quite a bit on serving and decorating pieces.

With that in mind, I did a search for some cute entertaining pieces that will look great, and which (best part!) are all $5 or less! I hope these options will inspire you to do your own hunting around. We should all (including me!) remember that stylish entertaining doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag.

Professional Steel Serving Trays

If you're into hosting parties, you NEED to become familiar with restaurant supply shops. You can find them in most major cities, and they're all over the Internet. Most of them will let you buy pieces individually and the prices are AMAZING. If you've ever been to a professionally catered event, you'll have seen the waiters walking around with one of these trays.

Large enough to hold a selection of hors d'oeuvres, the raised rolled edges will keep sauces (or unsteady treats) from falling off the edge as you pass them around. The crisp stainless steel will blend with most themes and will keep you from worry about broken or chipped edges.

Best part? At only $2.65 each for these, you can afford to buy a few and never worry about having enough serving trays again!

Calypso Citron Summer Stemless Glasses

Crate & Barrel is one of my favorites for inexpensive entertaining pieces. They carry products in a range of prices, but I always head right for the cheap stuff.

These gorgeous green stemless glasses are perfect for summer parties (whether in your backyard or in your tiny living room). Handcrafted from recycled glass, they'll be sure to appeal the eco-conscious, and are bright and colorful enough that you won't need much else to set the theme at your party. Don't they just look straight out of a Mexican restaurant or hotel pool bar?!

Use these to serve margaritas, lemonade, or sangria; even ice water with a few lime slices will conjure up those fun vacation vibes when served in these. For a bit more, C&B also carries matching pitchers and stemmed glasses.

Compostable Forks, Knives, and Spoons

While I try to use stainless steel or other reusable flatware as often as I can, there are times when disposable party supplies really do come in handy (during picnics or large gatherings, for example). That’s why I was so excited to discover these Compostable utensils.

Sold in packs of 50 for $5 each, these utensils are sturdy and made from Crystalized Polyactic Acid, an earth-friendly, renewable material that is certified to break down within 180 days in a commercial composting facility. Even the packaging they come in is compostable!

Mini Galvanized Tubs
When I was planning my Clothing Swap Brunch Party a few weeks ago, I found a bunch of these in the dollar bins at Target. I bought a few, not sure right away what I’d use them for, but certain they’d come in handy. I was right! I ended up filling each of them with things like loose candy and dried edamame. They made adorable serving pieces that I distributed around the room so that guests would always have something to munch on, no matter where they were standing.

You could also use these to hold a pillar candle (filling the rest of the basin w/ marbles or stones), or to hold crackers or flatware. Lined with a thick napkin, they would also be good for serving flatbread or pita. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, and the price makes them a great bargain.

Tip: the bigger versions of these, also available on that site and still a bargain at less than $20, are great for holding wine, beer, or sodas; just fill with ice and beverages and let guests help themselves!) Cheap and elegant serving pieces rock!

Mini Porcelain Pie Plates

Another find from Crate & Barrel; these little pie plates are just too cute! Less than two bucks each, you can use these to make (or just serve!) individual desserts for your guests like mini pies or mini tarts. Or make personal savory pot-pies—people just love getting their own individual dish at a dinner party!

The attractive little plates are also cute enough to stand on their own holding candy, nuts, or candles for a centerpiece. Or use them in your bathroom to hold a little selection of pretty guests soaps. Once again, the possibilities are endless!

Now what about you? Have you spotted any inexpensive or clever entertaining pieces lately?

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