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Fall Dinner Party on a Budget

Here are some tips on hosting a fall dinner party in an affordable way.

We did ours outside because there was more space and it felt more free. Decide where you’re hosting and how many guests you want to serve. We had 8 including the hosts. I feel like this is the perfect amount – it feels full, but you’re not making 100 pounds of food.

We wanted a menu that was fall-ish obviously, but it had to also be easy to cook while hosting and accommodate different dietary restrictions. We chose:

Creamy butternut squash pasta (cheese optional)
Goat cheese salad (cheese optional – just a simple salad with lettuce, balsamic dressing, kalamata olives, tomatoes and cucumbers)
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (paired with optional pumpkin ice cream and hot fudge)

We put out a cheese and meat board appetizer with wine to start the party.

We made the salad and cookies before guests arrived. We cooked the pasta/mingled while the appetizer was out. We served the pasta on individual plates and let guests add their own cheese. We put the salad out in a bowl for people to serve themselves. After dinner, we cleared the table and brought out the cookies and ice cream on bamboo dessert plates.

Now the fun part – setting the table! I wanted a fall, outdoorsy, greenery vibe.

White table cloth ($5) – This is my go to party table cloth. It comes in pink, green or white and is disposable. It’s made from a thicker paper material and looks much nicer than a plastic table cloth. I think you can recycle any clean parts of the cloth and reuse it if it doesn’t get dirty. And the bottoms are scalloped!

Burlap table runner ($8) – I use this for a ton of different parties and themes – it’s very versatile.

Greenery garland ($10-$20) – Michael’s has a ton of these with different greenery options. They usually have a 50% off coupon that you can use too. I chose to do a plastic garland so I could re-use it again (another example with succulents added). I placed this along the center of the table on top of the table runner.

Candle holders + candles ($2 total each) – I went to Salvation army and got two clear taper candle holders, two small orange tea candle holders and I found a bigger orange holder to be the center piece. You can get taper and tea light candles at Michael’s for really cheap, use their coupons! I placed these on top of the runner mixed in with the greenery.

Pumpkins ($1 each) – I got mini pumpkins at the Farmers market – orange, white and a combo.

Plates (Free) – We used our normal dishes that were just plain white. I think any white plate would work for this.

I put out bamboo plates for appetizers and served dessert on them as well.

Napkins ($2.50) – I love the greenery feel of these! They have matching plates and other accessories if you want more. Place this on top of each person’s plate.

Menu (Free) – I made the menu in InDesign and printed it out on brown kraft paper. You can obviously print it on any paper! Put a menu on top of each person’s napkin.

Place settings ($6) – I got little pumpkin clips from the Target dollar section and wrote each person’s name on them. I like how they clipped the napkin and menu together. You could DIY these with any clip or seasonal item. You can also paint over the names if you want to use for something else/another party. OR give them away to each guest at the end of the night.

I clipped a fresh sprig of rosemary in there above the menu as well.

Glasses ($12) – I found green cocktail glasses at Salvation Army – a set for $12. I love vintage colored glassware – you could do brown, black, orange, any other fall color. I put these out as dinner cocktail/wine glasses. I then used our standard clear stemless wine glasses for water.

I put out a separate set of wine glasses (orange and green duh) and a carafe for drinking with the appetizers.

Flatware (Free) – I had a box of old silverware and I spray painted the ends of it gold. Obviously you can just use whatever you have at your house. Or there probably is cool gold flatware at Salvation Army for pretty cheap.

I hung up string lights above the table for when it started to get dark. That with the candlelight really created a vibe!

I think this party cost me a total of less than $150! You can obviously upgrade anything or use more of things you already own. I’d like to do more seasonal or themed dinner parties – they are so fun, easy and intimate.


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