WSVN — You don't have to look like a scrooge when hosting a holiday dinner party. Restaurateur and lifestyle expert Donatella Arpaia knows how to bring glamour and affordability to holiday entertaining.
Donatella Arpaia: "This holiday season we can really do it on a budget, but it doesn't have to look like it. That's the key."
When hosting a dinner party, the main course can often be the main expense, so skip pricey entrees like filet mignon or fish and go for pasta or grains instead.
Donatella Arpaia: "They're rustic, they're homey and there's a lot of ways to bring drama to it. Like this tagliatelle, which is hand cut, gorgeous truffle and egg yolk, beautiful table side presentation. You break the egg and you're mixing and the heat of the pasta cooks the yolk, and it creates this gorgeous creamy sauce."
You can also serve paella as a main dish and inexpensive starters like an heirloom tomato salad and a cold corn soup.
Donatella Arpaia: "This is a cold, corn soup with crab and corn and different spices and sauces. When your guests come, they get it and they get to pour it tableside. Look how beautiful the sauces come in."
Donatella suggests home-making your main courses and then buying dessert.
Donatella Arpaia: "So I will buy really good quality chocolates, different sizes and shapes and mix it up with marshmallows."
When it comes to serving alcohol, cut costs by making one signature cocktail. Instead of stocking a full bar or instead of expensive French champagne, try the Italian sparkling wine Prosecco.
If you're going to serve wine it makes a nice presentation to line up your wine glasses. From white to red to dessert wines.
Donatella Arpaia: "It also takes you through the progression of the night."
Instead of buying holiday plates and dishes, keep it classic and simple.
Donatella Arpaia: "If you dont have a big budget, I say go with white china, but go with different shapes. Also mix in different elements like marble, slate, wood."
For creative tabletops, choose glass cylinders that you can fill with different seasonal elements, and instead of splurging on pricey flowers, go for a glow.
Donatella Arpaia: "I like to use candles. They're very inexpensive and they automatically create a mood that I want to achieve, of intimacy and a beautiful glow."
Donatella also likes to print menus and placecards for the table, and suggests giving guests a parting gift for a special reminder of the party the next day.
Donatella Arpaia: "I make muffins. I wrap them in parchment paper, which is the most inexpensive thing you can buy and you can buy beautiful ribbon. Another one of my favorite parting gifts is to make a signature liqueur like Limoncello. I'll buy little bottles, pour them in, tie a ribbon and that's a great parting gift."
So everyone leaves happy and raves about the party.
Belkys Nerey: "Seating is also key. Donatella says the host should always be seated at the center of the table to keep conversation flowing, and never seat couples together, split them up so they talk to other people."