It’s hard to escape the coverage of the Occupy movement. It can be maddening to try to discern the hundreds of arguments and causes from one another. Yet one thing seems to be clear: There’s a huge discrepancy of wealth in this country. Some people are referring to this gap as the 99 percent and the 1 percent. While 1 percent of the country is living “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams,” the other 99 percent is living more like “Refinance wishes and unemployment nightmares.”
While your wallet might not be in the 1 percent, there’s no reason you can’t fake it. In times like these, your psyche is begging for a break, so why not give it seven courses of distraction? Dinner parties aren’t exclusively reserved for yacht clubs and celebrating Martha Stewart’s release from prison. Fancy celebrations are a great excuse to bring together kindred spirits, pour a little too much bubbly, and stuff your face with gentrification and cocktail shrimp.
First, set the scene in your mind: Will there be a theme? What will the dress code be? What type of food will be served? Once you’ve settled on a theme—maybe Prohibition or, if you’re feeling a little edgier, a “doomed celebrity couples” dinner—be sure to give your guests as much warning as possible so they can plan accordingly. Paper invites can be expensive, so shoot your friends an e-mail or Facebook message.
If you choose to go with strictly formal attire, it doesn’t need to carry the price tag. Top hats and bow ties can be found online at Amazon.com for cheaper than $5. And yes, a tuxedo T-shirt can count as formal. If you’re in the market for a dress, check local thrift stores to see if they carry vintage dresses, or you could try your hand at sewing.
Next, set the table. Don’t be afraid to think outside the fine china. Mismatched plates and drink ware are all the rage, and you can give your table that refined quality by creating a place-setting card for each guest and finding a few choice decorations (Etsy.com has a great selection of handcrafted items).
For the meal itself, you might want to think about doing something cross-cultural, perhaps making seven courses of traditional Thai food (keeping the dinner limited to four or six guests keeps the budget low, and planning your shopping around the farmers markets can also help). Making a signature drink can also give the evening that 1 percent feel. Give your guests the option of a “fall” gimlet, or, if your party is themed, rename a traditional drink in that vein (a Red Bull vodka becomes the Demi/Ashton). Whatever you do, remember that being the 99 percent can be a lot of fun.
Intern Maeva Considine compiled this week’s Bites. We want a Bite! Send us your food, wine, and related news at firstname.lastname@example.org.