I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest joys in this life is throwing a fabulous party.
All throughout college, my best girlfriends and I LOVED to host people over for a night of drinking, dancing, and …drinking. Together, we effortlessly created a warm and upbeat atmosphere that others loved to soak up. We also had a monster-sized TV that took up half of our living room, where we constantly streamed music videos off of Youtube (because who actually pays for cable). The music videos definitely became our claim to fame, our party staple, if you will. On top of this, we also had an affinity for pouring up too many cheap tequila shots and making disgustingly strong cocktails. All in the name of being good hostesses.
Nowadays, my party style is a little more “refined” you could say. I no longer take pride in having a bright orange 10-gallon Gatorade cooler full of whatever-alcohol-we-could-afford-at-the-moment as the center of the party. At this point, I’ve realized that yes, abundant alcohol and good music are crucial components of a good party, but so are yummy food and quality conversation.
However, being 24 and wanting to host a stellar dinner party is not the easiest feat. Too many bills and too little space, am I right? Well, instead of being way too ambitious and trying to provide guests with a full meal, pairing down to a wine and cheese party can help you save money while still impressing everyone you know. Thanks to the team at Cheeselandia, I was able to throw an amazing wine and cheese party- for less than $100- that provided me and my guests with a memorable and budget-friendly experience. If you are looking to throw a fabulous but affordable, party, I’m going to break it all the way down on how to make it possible.
Wisconsin cheese is the staple of a quality wine and cheese party. The cheeses have all of the bougie flair and diverse flavor of imported cheeses, but are so much easier to find and afford. This will actually be the most expensive piece of your party, so it’s ok to splurge. For about $40-$50, you should have enough cheese to satisfy the needs of about 8-10 people.
Cheeselandia hooked me up with five Wisconsin cheeses for my inaugural wine & cheese party: Merlot BellaVitano, Roth Grand Cru Reserve, Saxon Creamery Big Ed’s Gouda, Hook’s Five Year Cheddar, and Roelli Cheese Haus Dubarton Blue. My faves are the Merlot BellaVitano: a rich, creamy cheese with berry and plum notes of Merlot, and the Dunbarton Blue: a unique cheese that combines the moldy and potent goodness of a blue with the sharpness of a Cheddar. SO LUSH. Each one of these cheeses can easily be found at your neighborhood Whole Foods, too.
A good rule of thumb I like to use when figuring out how many bottles to buy for a party is dividing your guest count in half. 8 people? 4 bottles. But you know your friends better than I do, so use your judgement.
Good wine does not have to be expensive. Apothic wines are my go-to and usually priced around $10 a bottle- which is pretty much the most I feel comfortable spending on wine. 4 bottles of assorted Apothic wines (their Red Blend and Rosé are great) should run you $40. If you are really desperate to save a bit more, Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck can do the trick. However, it is not at all out of line to ask each guest to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to save on the cost. This adds a fun element of surprise to your party, too.
Hopefully you have a Trader Joe’s near you because this is how you’re really going to stretch that next $20-$30. First, head to the produce department: grapes, apples, and pears are cheap and perfect for the occasion. Crackers are also a necessity and Trader Joe’s brings their A GAME here. The Fig & Olive Crisps are a must, as are the Brioche toasts. If you want to add a sweet component, they also have 99 cent dark chocolate bars at the counter that are really all you need. I opted for their holiday chocolate bark which was a bit more expensive, but so beautiful.
Finally, if you have some meat eaters- Trader Joe’s has a great assorted meat tray- Daniele Inc. Gourmet Deli Selection- that is under $6. If you want any jams or dips, this is also the place to grab them. Now, look at that! You have stretched that dollar and can successfully fill the tummies of 8-10 of your closest friends.
I’ve learned in my few years of partying and hosting, that music is 100% THE deciding factor of the party vibe. This is why I cringe when I go to a wedding and the playlist consists of Electric Slide B2B Bruno Mars Anything. Yawn. Been there, done that. Spice it up already. The Queens Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse give a sultry ambiance that really suits a wine and cheese party. But again, you know your guests, so use your judgement. Just please, stay away from Top 40.
Why is a wine and cheese party great for the 24 year old on a budget and space constraint? Simply because guests don’t have to sit down with forks and knives to eat cheese and fruit. All you really need is a counter top or a central table for your spread, and a few chairs. In fact, the tighter space is conducive to people making conversation and getting to know each other.
I opted for a “Grazing Table” design, which basically means a table-sized meat and cheese tray. This setup allows all of your hard work to be the center of attention (you know you love it). It also lets multiple people grab food and drink at once, instead of awkwardly standing in a line. With guests being able to stand on all sides of the table, this again, opens everyone up to more conversation opportunities, and more time to appreciate all of your budget-saavy, but fabulous, offerings.
Thank you Cheeselandia for sponsoring this post, and my fabulous party!