- Max it out: Plan ahead by determining how much you feel comfortable spending on hosting Thanksgiving and stick to it. Cut back on items that may be a splurge, such as specialty ingredients or expensive table decorations, and focus on what is essential for the holiday celebration.
- Delegate: When inviting friends and family, ask them to bring something that enhances the meal — and also cuts down on your spending. From a bottle of wine to a purchased pumpkin pie, requesting guests to provide Turkey Day essentials lets everyone feel as though they helped make the day special.
- Paper products: From paper towels to napkins to toilet paper, load up on paper products, and stash under the bathroom or kitchen sink so you won't have to run out for a roll.
- Kitchen help: Stock up on new rolls of tinfoil, plastic wrap, and zip-top bags to store leftovers from fun meals together and keep your kitchen in tip-top shape. Sure, you might not be getting as much product as higher-priced name-brand offerings, but for a dollar a box, it's still a steal.
- Coffee filters: You'll be making extra pots of coffee, so having coffee filters on hand ensures everyone wakes up happy. And coffee filters can be used for so many other things around the house, which makes having a stash a smart investment. You can also pick up some coffee grounds, too.
- Hand towels: Pick up packs of hand towels and wash clothes at the dollar store so your guests have access to clean towels as needed — and this way you won't need to do laundry every day.
Right about this time of year is when the requests start flowing in. Family and friends make plans to stay with you for the holidays, and before you know it, your place is totally booked until 2014. As stressful as it can be, playing hostess is a pretty special job. You don't just want them to have a good experience though — you want them to have a fabulous one that rivals the vibe of the Ritz. Ahead, check out tips on how to go that extra mile and win the "best hostess ever" award. Just be warned that once the word gets out, you may have even more visitors knocking at your door!
- Come up with a solid preplan: Hosting starts before your guests even arrive! Stock your fridge with snacks they'll enjoy, buy their favorite bottle of wine, ask if they have any allergies to scents or fabrics, and make reservations at your favorite restaurant before it's booked up. Don't forget to give them detailed directions on how to get to your place if you can't pick them up.
- Impress 'em with the details: Whether they're staying in a guest bedroom or on an air mattress, treat the experience as if your grandma were staying with you. Provide clean linens, extra towels, hangers, and essential toiletries. Even more importantly: write down the WiFi password. Another tip is to set aside some space where they can store all their stuff.
- Play concierge: If they want to explore while you're at work, come up with a plan they can follow on their own. Share your favorite restaurants, give them a calendar of events, tell them about all the local attractions — and don't forget a weather report!
- Make them feel at home: Take steps to make them feel welcome, always. Give them enough privacy, and never act like they're imposing (even if they are). Be happy when they're around, and even if something bothers you (like their belongings start taking over your living room), keep in mind that the visit will come to an end sooner than you realize. Especially with foreign guests, understand that their cultures and habits may be different than what you're used to, and that's totally OK.
Above all, enjoy the time you have with your visitors, because it may just be a once-a-year event!
Bring up the topic of karaoke, and you'll be surprised how many closet wailers come out of the woodwork. So why not bring the karaoke night from the bar to your living room? It might seem like a complicated event to host, but with these simple steps, you'll have a home full of singers in no time — for better or for worse.
Get the right equipment. One of the biggest challenges to this at-home party is getting set up. Karaoke machines run anywhere from $40 to $700, but there's an app that will cost you nothing and save you plenty of time. Karaoke Anywhere works on both iPhone and Android and features more than 50,000 karaoke songs. All you have to do is plug your phone into your TV. Plus, it lets you record and share with other people. Just remember to test it out before your guests arrive.
Set the scene. To guarantee a great time, the right atmosphere is key. Make your guests feel like they've been transported to a karaoke club by bringing in colored patio lights or shining a spotlight on the center of attention. For a faux stage, set up a backdrop by using a solid-colored sheet that lets the singing star stand out.
Loosen up. Sometimes it's hard to get people to participate, at least at first. Help guests feel comfortable and get in the mood by having some drink and snack options and making the event fun by giving out prizes for most memorable performances — what "memorable" means is up to you and your guests!
- Head to your local library and check out a book on a subject you're not familiar with.
- Go on a nature walk and collect five things that are beautiful.
- Get out your old photographs and take a look at your past, remembering special moments that were important to you.
- Pick up a pencil or pen and sketch without worrying if you're a good artist. The process is more important than the product.
- Grab a cookbook and attempt a recipe you've never made before. Invite friends over for an impromptu dinner party and share the dish.
- Learn how to arrange flowers into a beautiful display.
- Keep a dream journal and pick up a dream analysis book from the library to learn more about your sleeping brain.
- Tap into your inner child and head to the closest park and swing on the swings. Along with being fun, pumping those legs will get you thinking in a different way.
- Upcycle something you're planning on tossing.
- Volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, elder community, or homeless shelter.
Ladies, never let your budget prevent you from having a party again — promise? Whether you're looking to host a weekend dinner party or have friends over for a movie, it doesn't have to break the bank. With a few essentials under $10 and affordable tips and tricks (potluck please!) a good time awaits. Find out how, and send out that Facebook invite . . . There's about to be a party!
- Playing Cards ($3): Whether it's a game of poker or "go fish," a deck of cards promises a good time with whatever crowd (or age) you're hosting.
- Netflix ($8): A Netflix membership is only $8 a month and allows for endless streaming of movies and TV shows. It's cheaper than heading to the theater with friends and is an affordable way to host a movie night. If you don't want to subscribe to Netflix, simply log in with a guest's account the night of your party.
- Cocktail Shaker ($10): Instead of purchasing premixed drinks or heading out to happy hour, shake up a mean cocktail on a budget with this stainless-steel option.
- Glassware ($4, originally $6): No need for red cups when these stylish, glass tumblers will do the job.
- Watch cute animal YouTube videos.
- Tackle your garden and grow your own greens.
- Clean your home, and you'll feel a lot better coming home to it.
- If you have an instrument, then take it out and play it.
- Watch old DVDs around the home.
- Work out to an exercise DVD if you have one.
- Do a newspaper crossword puzzle.
- Reread old favorites.
- Organize your room, and make it look fresh by moving furniture around.
- Webcam with someone far away.
- Catch up on recorded shows.
- Shop your pantry, and create a meal from your leftovers.
- Upcycle something you're about to throw away into something new and beautiful.
- Shop your closet and create new outfits from clothing you've forgotten.
- Put a puzzle together.
Ah, Summer — a time for pool parties aplenty. If you're throwing a splish-splash bash this season, then you'll probably want the event to be relaxed and carefree. That's where pool party decorations come in to set the scene, and we've rounded up finds that all come in under $15. With that type of savings, you might even throw more than one bash. Have a look, and get ready to host the hottest party of the Summer!
Transform any space into an instant party with the help of these easy-to-make folded paper rounds that can be used as cake toppers, fans, or hanging decorations. We saw this smart idea on Pinterest and had to give it a try ourselves. All you need are remnants of colorful paper and a bag of wooden skewers from the grocery store for this basic DIY. And you can really get creative by adding ribbon and layering the paper, or use colors of paper that coordinate with any holiday or celebration.
It's hard to believe, but just like that, Fourth of July is upon us. As one of the biggest celebrations of the Summer, it's the perfect chance to gather friends and family for a good time. But if you're feeling strapped after all the graduations and vacation planning, then you may be reluctant to throw an Independence Day party yourself. Thankfully there are ways to host a fireworks-worthy bash without having to spend too much. Below, check out some tips for a Summer soiree that's frugal but still festive and, most importantly, fun!
- Food and drink: If you're opting for a traditional Fourth of July barbecue, then make it potluck-style so you're not the only one in charge of supplying the food. And if you live in an apartment or are grill-less, then making a dish like these savory sloppy joes is the perfect way to serve up a meal that's easy on the wallet and the cook time. For drinks, whip up one all-American signature drink (we love the American Beauty) that calls for just a few ingredients. And as for dessert, making a flag cake at home is much easier than you'd think.
- Decor: To dress up your place, you can always follow the two D's: DIY or dollar-store decorations. One smart idea is patriotic candleholders made for just a few bucks. But this Independence Day, you can spend absolutely nothing by downloading festive printables for your centerpieces, banners, and more. Guests will never be able to tell you snagged them for free.
- Entertainment: One of the top rules of entertaining on a budget is to not worry too much about the entertainment. After all, guests will be happy with just drinks and some music. But for this Fourth of July, here's another tip: schedule your party either before or after a big event like a parade or concert so that the entertainment for the evening takes care of itself and you can all head out together. If all else fails, some faux fireworks are always a good idea.
- Dress: Luckily, this holiday is the easiest one to dress for. Don't feel like you have to go out and buy an outfit with the American flag on it. Chances are (very high) that you have some red, white, and blue options in your closet. Don them all at once for a foolproof way to show off your stars and stripes.