With summer quickly closing down I want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible during the last remaining weeks. I love to have friends visit and there is one thing I have learned this summer is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. How can you entertain six people for dinner, drinks and set an attractive table for less than $20 per person? I came up with some great money-saving ideas for end of summer entertaining that is sure to impress your guests:

Tapas-style dining creates creative grazing throughout the evening and encourages guests to experience many food flavours throughout the evening. I like to serve a variety of pre-made salads and hors d’oeuvres alongside exotic dips and sauces; this way everyone can customize their grazing experience. Garnish your plates with edible fruits, nuts and vegetables that not only look pretty but can be nibbled between servings. Cost: $25-40.

Find a good wine that everyone will like for under $10/bottle. Piat d’Or wine can be found at most liquor stores across the country for around $9 per bottle. They’ve recently done some re-branding and have got a great white chardonnay and my favourite; red merlot. Cost: $45/5 bottles
Other options: After dinner make a delicious sangria. Put 1 ounce of orange liquor, 3 cups of fresh chopped fruit, 1 cup of white cranberry juice and a bottle of wine in a large pitcher. Let sit for 15 minutes, then serve over ice.

Outdoor entertaining always allows for plastic and paper, but I suggest mixing in some good tableware with the less expensive. I find great tabletop items at Your Dollar Store With More (they sell things that cost $1 and up). Try to keep your colour choices to a minimum of two. This will allow paper, plastic and glass items to remain well co-ordinated. Layer a clear glass salad plate on top of a colourful plastic dinner plate on top of a coloured paper charger. Cost: $25