It seems like every time I say the word “organic” in relation to planning a party or big dinner, I get a lot of suspicious looks. I’ve realized that people tend to jump right from “organic” to “expensive” and shut down. Luckily, with a little research and planning, you too can offer organic fare at your next party without breaking the bank.
I especially like to stay organic when I’m hosting baby showers. Many of the guests tend to be pregnant or nursing moms, so providing quality food for them is a big priority for me. When I start planning, I like to find out who will be attending (old friends, multiple generations of family, colleagues) to start setting the tone for the party.
My favorite time to host a baby shower is a weekend afternoon. It keeps the party from going too long (no one wants to play every shower game in one sitting) and, since no one expects a full meal, will save you money. Some showers will offer alcohol, and that’s okay, but I generally skip it — especially for an afternoon party. The mom-to-be won’t be drinking, so I don’t think it’s necessary that the rest of us do.
I also skip paper products: paper plates, napkins and cups. I know they’re easier to use, but they are wasteful. More than that, though, as cute as they might be they always seem cheap to me. I prefer to use real dishes, ceramics for something rather casual or fine china to add some formal flair. When it comes to baby shower party favors, I usually try to skip candy or food items in favor of something a little more useful. I love mini-photo-frames since I can use them as place cards and favors.
Once I’ve figured out the date and guest list, I send out invitations. You can save money by sending postcards instead of invitations cards — both on materials and postage. Clever design will always look expensive, but it doesn’t always have to cost more. I design my own, print them at home on cardstock and then fill them out and mail them. I also follow up on RSVPs very thoroughly. It gives me a chance to get to know the guests, make sure they know where they are going and what to expect, and with an accurate head count I can plan for the right amount of food and drink.
When it comes to refreshments, I tend to keep things classic and simple. I love serving one or more varieties of infused water, a favorite beverage of mine. It’s tremendously refreshing, easy to put together and it’s all natural. I also serve a lot of hot tea. I provide hot water and a variety of bagged teas. Organic can be pricier, but you will also have plenty of leftovers to enjoy at home afterward. I avoid coffee because, in my experience, either no one drinks it or everyone goes after it, and you’re constantly brewing more.
I’ve found that just a few quality food options will go a long way, especially with a bit of presentational flair. I always do an organic veggie platter based on what’s in season with a homemade hummus and a lighter, seasonal dip. I like to also add a baked option like banana or zucchini bread. I always like to put out some sweets — like cream-filled or chocolate-dipped strawberries. By skipping store bought, processed foods I’m able to keep costs down (potato chips cost a fortune and have no nutritional value) and still provide great options to my guests.