Food can be the biggest source of stress for anyone throwing a party, but this is especially true when the party is a bridal shower. The edibles can be expensive if you don’t closely watch your budget. Still, you can reconfigure your shower plans by choosing a menu that helps cut down on your party planning costs and still impresses the guests and the bride-to-be. You’ve already spent money on decor, games, and gifts – you don’t need to completely break your bank by serving up a pricey feast.
Bridal showers work best if there’s a clear theme for the food, and this is beneficial since creating a theme can help take some of the pressure off of serving an extravagant main course. Instead, you can choose more frugal items that work together as a whole for a sumptuous bridal shower spread.
Cheap Food Ideas for a Bridal Shower
Creating a bridal shower food table that is attractive, delicious, and budget-friendly can be difficult if you don’t have a plan of attack. The trick is to plan for several dishes for a theme, instead of having a single centerpiece. Most bridal showers are the perfect place for finger foods, tasting, and dipping.
1. Bridal Brunch
Instead of planning a bridal shower to take place during the evening, save on food costs and go with a brunch theme. Breakfast foods are typically cheaper to purchase and prepare compared to dinner foods, and you can easily dress them up. For instance, mini pancakes on a toothpick served up with a side of maple syrup is perfect for sampling. Or, create a fruit tray with bright, fresh fruit from your local supermarket or farmers’ market, where you can find a ton of variety for not much cash.
If you choose to serve meats, which are usually the most expensive foods, you can cut things like sausage and bacon into bite-sized pieces to reduce the needed quantity. For drinks, grab some concentrated orange juice and replace the water called for in the instructions with Sprite – instant sparkling juice!
2. Dips Only
When a bridal shower is populated by a bunch of ladies, they often want to sample just about everything on the food table. Make it easier to do so by creating a shower menu based solely on sampling. A “dips only” menu means you save on expensive spreads by instead using ingredients that you have on hand, or inexpensive ingredients like sour cream. By creating a table filled with all types of dips – from veggie-based, to fruit dips, and even dessert dips – you can then offer small cocktail plates so guests can sample and then load up on their favorites for the rest of the party.
3. “Family Recipes” Pot Luck
If the idea of providing food for a huge group of people seems overwhelming, rally the troops and get a little extra help. Instead of shouldering the burden yourself, try throwing a “family recipes” party. At this type of bridal shower, each guest brings a favorite homemade dish, along with a recipe card containing instructions. When you set out all the dishes on the serving table, create small cards for each dish, like “Grandma’s Famous Turnovers,” or “Aunt Miranda’s Broccoli Salad.”
At the shower, everyone gets to “ooh” and “aah” over all of the different dishes and try as many as they want. The recipe cards are gathered and placed in a mini photo album, which provides the bride a cookbook filled with unique and delicious recipes.
4. Dessert Bar
Do you love to bake? If so, you may want to decide to scrap the main meal and focus on desserts. By offering a spread of chocolates, pastries, and cookies, you can use your baking supply stockpile instead of heading to the store for exotic ingredients. Just make sure that you also include some healthier options, like fruit (dipped in chocolate, if you like) and an array of biscuits. And be sure to serve plenty of coffee to complement all of the sweets.
If you plan to create a dessert bar but no meal, be certain that you plan the shower at an appropriate time. Setting a time of 6pm may lead guests to believe that dinner will be served. Instead, schedule your shower to take place during the late morning or afternoon.
5. Tea Party
Tea parties are coming back en vogue, thanks to their girly appeal and relative low cost. To make the treats for the tea party special, offer a variety of teas at a tea station: Set out different bags of tea, hot water, lemon, sugar, honey, and milk so guests can mix up their own.
As for the food you serve, think small. Tea party food is often miniature in size, which means you can easily stretch your food budget. Small cucumber finger sandwiches, tiny cookies, fruit, and even a cheese plate all work well and help to keep food costs low. Most people will be too busy admiring the spread to even notice that you’ve stretched your ingredients with appetizers and skipped the main meal.
If you want to save on your bridal shower food budget, it’s always best to go with a theme – otherwise, it’s very easy to overspend as you try to show the bride that you care. Of course, the bride already knows you’re awesome, so find ways to spend less on food and focus on having a great time. Presentation is everything: Cute table displays, lots of variety, and adorable tags and cards can make bargain basement food look as impressive as pricier offerings.
What are your favorite foods to prepare for bridal shower spreads?
(photo credit: Bigstock)