At some point in adult life, entertaining graduates from beer and chips to something a little more formal. The first time you host a dinner party can be daunting, for so many reasons. Oh no! People will be coming over to my humble abode! I’ll have to clean it and everything! Fortunately for your pocketbook, thrift stores can provide most of the basic equipment you’ll need to start entertaining. All of these items can be commonly found in virtually any thrift store on the planet and will not require much digging or elbowing of strangers:
– Barware: Wine glasses break easily, but highball glasses? Not nearly as often. Thrifts usually have a good selection of glassware, particularly for specialty cocktails that have gone out of style. There’s no sense in buying a new “Mad Men” inspired glass when you can get the real thing for less. In fact, so many great glasses turn up at thrift stores that my marriage depends on me not buying any more. Hey, more for you to snatch up! It’s high time you invested in a bar cart anyway.
– “Coasters”: Speaking of happy hour, there’s no need to buy coasters when you could rest your drink on No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom or that travesty of an album by The Goo-Goo Dolls. At this point, we have more CDs than we really know what to do with, particularly of 90’s one-hit-wonders. Put them to good use, save your wood table, and take your friends on a hilarious walk down memory lane all at the same time. (If you’re a coaster purist, they probably have regular ones, too.)
– Serving Dishes: One big hurdle for a first-ever dinner party is that you suddenly need things like large plates, serving trays, and chip ‘n dips that you’ve never needed before and, depending on how the party goes, may never need again. Fortunately there are plenty of other people out there who also regretted agreeing to host a dinner party and they kindly dropped off everything you need at The Goodwill rather than have it horde valuable kitchen cabinet space. (Also, it’s perfectly fine to donate these items as soon as you are done with them. Sometimes thrifts act as a kind of dirt cheap rental service and that’s for the betterment of everyone involved.)
– Crystal Bowls: Isn’t crystal supposed to be valuable? Apparently not, because there are always crystal bowls at the thrift store. Maybe they aren’t real crystal. Who knows? Could you, or anyone, tell the difference? Take one home, clean it up, put some fruit in it or something, and you’ll feel super classy. Now you can invite the Queen over for tea.
– Flower Vases: Vases found at thrifts tend to be hideous or completely unremarkable, by which I mean the plain, clear vases that come “free” with flower delivery. But that’s okay. The upside here is that these plain vases won’t clash with your décor or distracted from your pretty floral arrangement. No one will ever notice them at all and sometimes that’s for the best. Plus, say you are planning a wedding shower (or some other dumb, very ladylike function) and need a dozen centerpieces. You’ll save a ton of cash if you grab twelve thrift store vases (no one will notice if they are not exactly the same) and make them yourself.
– Aprons: Vintage aprons have a special place in my heart, particularly if they were made by hand. They come in infinite variety and are insanely cute to boot. But I seem to be the only person who’s interested – thrift stores practically give these treasures away. Usually found in the linen section with the tea towels and doilies (other things no one is interested in), they cost maybe a dollar. In the five seconds in takes to tie an apron on, you can save your prized outfit from spills and also elevate your hostess status to someone-who-looks-like-she-knows-what-she’s-doing.
But will you regret throwing your first dinner party, a phenomenon I alluded to earlier? Yes and no. Not everything will go right. Someone will be late. Someone will drink too much (hopefully not you).
Cutting costs on supplies (rather than food) will take some of the worry out of it. Now you won’t be mad when your neighbor breaks a glass or that klepto you’re friends with walks off with a fork (you can get those at the thrift store, too). It’s better not to end your evening staring at a pile of dirty dishes and seeing the credit card debt it took to get you there. Plan ahead, spend only what you can afford, and the evening will be all the more enjoyable.
Written by Liz