4. RULE #1: Don’t pour straight champagne until just before midnight.
Otherwise your guests will get all like this.
5. Instead, stretch the champers by mixing it into boozy cocktails.
6. Or a champagne punch.
7. Also, make an ice ring.
This is not a rule because it doesn’t really impact your budget, but IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO because small ice cubes melt too fast and water down your punch. Get instructions here from Bon Appetit or here from Williams-Sonoma.
8. RULE #2: Don’t buy champagne. Buy Prosecco or Cava.
9. RULE #3: If you serve caviar, be smart about it.
BuzzFeed Food is a firm believer in caviar. (Farm-raised caviar, that is. Because many of the fish — especially sturgeon — that provide caviar are overfished and near extinction.) Don’t bother with canned, shelf-stable supermarket caviar.
10. Quick primer on caviar.
1. “Real caviar” comes from three kinds of wild sturgeon in the Caspian and Black Seas: Beluga (best caviar), Ossetra (second-best caviar) and Sevruga (third-best caviar). But you’re not going to buy any of that unless you want to spend a ton of money, get arrested, or spit in the face of Mother Nature.
2. Beluga caviar is illegal because of overfishing. In fact, any caviar that comes from wild fish is an ethical no-no because of overfishing.
3. Look for “sustainably farmed” caviar. Likely from America.
11. We recommend American trout caviar.
In a recent article, The New York Times recommends 15 grams of caviar per person. That means about 5 ounces for a group of 10 people. That’s generous.
The best option is trout caviar (pictured) from Sunburst Trout Farms. It’s the best bang for your buck; $105 for 4 ounces.
The cheapest option isn’t caviar but salmon roe, which is bigger than caviar and about $25 for 125 grams.
12. Portion out the caviar before your guests arrive.
After you eat a couple of spoonfuls straight out of the tin, of course.
19. Or some jerk will eat it all when no one is looking.
20. RULE #4: Pomegranate seeds can fill a caviar void.
21. Because they are like beautiful little jewels.
22. They aren’t cheap, but you don’t need a lot.
One pomegranate has a LOT of seeds.
23. Add them to a butternut squash hummus…
24. or avocado hummus…
We’d recommend skipping the little seeds since people are going to try to get kissed and midnight and stuff. Get the recipe at LA Times.
27. RULE #5: Serve chicken liver mousse in lieu of a fancier pate (like foie gras).
Chicken livers are cheap, duck livers are not. But it still feels fancy. Get the recipe at Bon Appetit.
28. RULE #6: Stretch the meat.
29. Serve that ham with biscuits.
These are sweet potato biscuits, and when you put them out in a way that suggest people eat them with the ham, your ham lasts longer. Get the recipe at Bon Appetit.
30. Make your charcuterie work.
These little soppressata bundles won’t disappear as fast as a straight-up platter of cured meat. Get the recipe at Food & Wine.
31. Buy an inexpensive cut of beef and marinate it for 48 hours.
Find a butcher that will sell you a top round London broil, and give yourself a couple days to marinate/tenderize it. Get a recipe at Food Network.
32. RULE #7: Dress up some budget-friendly cheese.
This is not fancy goat cheese BUT with a few pomegranate seeds and some herbs, doesn’t it look so debonaire? Get the recipe at Martha Stewart.
Bite-size baked brie. Get the recipe at Joy the Baker.
36. Also, for the record, this Trader Joe’s Brie en Croute is delicious.
38. RULE #8: Serve some seafood bisque in a mug.
It is rich. It is filling. It still feels luxurious. Below: Thai Clam Chowder. Get the recipe from Tartine and Apron Strings.
39. Shrimp bisque would be delightful.
Can’t find any pictures of shrimp bisque in a mug. Readers, please fill this perilous hole in the Internet.
41. Mussel bisque: also a good option.
Mussel bisque. Get the recipe at Barefoot Contessa.
42. RULE #9: Make regular desserts sparkly or otherwise extra pretty.
Edible glitter $6 at Wilton.