By Kimberly Holland/Real Simple
September 13, 2019

Game days, season premieres, promotion parties, neighborhood ladies’ nights. The reasons for getting together with your friends over some nibbles and wine are almost endless, and certainly, if you’re eager, you can find excuses in just about anything. (“Mercury is in retrograde! Let’s celebrate!”) But being the hostess, while exhilarating, can be taxing to your wallet. Unless you employ the BYO policy for both food and beverage, the onus is on you to put out a respectable spread for your guests.

At some stores, the total for the most modest of offerings can be downright hurtful. Two bottles of wine and a few snacks could top $50 before you even think of adding a sweet or two.

But that’s not the case at Trader Joe’s. The tropical-inspired alternative grocery store offers a wide variety of party-ready foods that not only save you time (pre-sliced salami, thank you!) but also protect your precious dollars. Here, we put together three excellent menus, each about $30, that offers everything you need for a small gathering, from Trader Joe’s most popular dips and cheeses to a little something sweet—and of course, the wine.

Classic Wine Party Menu

For a few folks you want to impress, this classic snack spread should be your go-to list. Everything here is party neutral: that means it’s exactly what you expect at a nice get-together, and everyone can find a little something to nosh on. If you happen to have bottles of wine already in the cooler, you can skip those on your list and get a second dip, like Avocado & Tzatziki Dip ($3.49), and a whole baguette ($1.99), instead of the demi. If your crew prefers their drinks to their nibbles, skip the almonds and grab a case of Blood Orange and Orange Juice Seltzer Water ($2.99). Make a little cocktail moment with the seltzer water, a splash of OJ, and a bit of gin.

  • Smoked Salmon Dip – $3.99
  • Persian Cucumbers – $2.29
  • Spanish Tapas Sampler – $4.49
  • Italian Dry Salame – $4.49
  • Demi Baguette – $1.29
  • Salted & Dry-Roasted Almonds – $3.49
  • Triple Ginger Cookie Thins – $3.99
  • 2 bottles of Charles Shaw wine – $5.98

Total – $30.01

Movie Night Party Menu

This menu affords a little more fun, but all the snack tray staples are here: a dip, cheese, something crispy, and a little sweet. Set this tray out on a coffee table or footrest so folks can nibble during the flick. If brownie crisps aren’t your style—they’re crispy, chewy, and capture all the best elements of edge pieces in a brownie tray—you can swap in Chocolate & Vanilla Macaroons. That’ll put you over budget by a dollar and some change, but those sweet little bites are worth the extra pennies. Save them for the end of the night when everyone can truly enjoy them.

  • Hummus Quartet – $4.99
  • Mini Goat Milk Brie – $2.99
  • Bell Peppers (one red and one yellow) – $2.18
  • Fig & Olive Crisps – $3.99
  • Thai Lime Almonds – $5.49
  • Brownie Crisps or Petite Brownies – $2.99
  • Berry Lemonade – $2.99
  • Organic Charles Shaw Wine – $3.99

Total – $29.61

Kid-Friendly Party Menu

If your selection of attendees will include kids, you may want to assemble a snack assortment that’s great for all ages. With this list, you can put together a tray kids can pick from while they play, and parents will find things worth grazing, too. If the kids aren’t keen on the Orangina (a sparkling citrus beverage), add a bit of bubbly or vodka to it for the adults.

  • Salsa Autentica – $1.99
  • Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips with Lime – $1.99
  • Chunky Guacamole – $3.99
  • Organic Rainbow Baby Carrots – $2.29
  • Cheddar Cheese (sharp or mild) – $4.99
  • Strawberries – $4.99
  • Original Lemonade – $2.99
  • Orangina – $2.49
  • Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies – $3.99

Total – $29.7

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