entertaining http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/108/all en-US 5 Frugal, Non-Depressing Ways to Spend NYE http://www.wisebread.com/5-frugal-non-depressing-ways-to-spend-nye <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-frugal-non-depressing-ways-to-spend-nye" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000031976168_XXXLarge.jpg" alt="new year&#039;s eve party" title="new year&#039;s eve party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>New Year's Eve can be a dreaded holiday for both singles and frugal families. We all have friends who are jetting off to Vegas or going to the hottest boutique hotel's $250-a-head bash, but you don't have to!</p> <p>Here are five frugal, non-depressing ways to spend NYE:</p> <h2>1. Host a Champagne Potluck</h2> <p>This is a fun and less spendy way to host your own NYE party. Simply get those delicious and cheap hors d'oeuvres from Trader Joe's, or make your own cheap-to-make&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-easy-and-impressive-frozen-puff-pastry-recipes">puff pastry treats</a>. Each person you invite brings different a type of bubbly: champagne, cava, prosecco, sparkling rose, anything. Have a tasting party right up until the ball drops! And the best part? Lots of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-ways-to-use-up-leftover-champagne">leftover champagne</a> for you!</p> <h2>2. Play a New Year's Eve Movie Marathon</h2> <p>Looking for a more casual way to host? Get all your pals together and marathon some favorite movies that feature New Year's Eve, like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00003CXD3/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00003CXD3&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HVL4ARQQWXQXYONT">Trading Places</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00003CXDC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00003CXDC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=SN2OIUAUA2MV2OAT">When Harry Met Sally</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TS5CJW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000TS5CJW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=MNLIR6DOU63DGTSB">Sleepless In Seattle</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0141000198/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0141000198&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XOGC4BKFMGGW5FX7">Bridget Jones' Diary</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000053VB0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000053VB0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=OVJ2OUS3VCFRD3DO">The Cutting Edge</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6305511020/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=6305511020&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=B7LIAQN6BEKY4L3T">200 Cigarettes</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005JL7Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005JL7Q&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DSRZAICKWK3NWBVD">About a Boy</a>, and more. Have fun drinking and heckling the movies together. Bonus: time one of the viewings to match up with the actual midnight countdown.</p> <h2>3. Attend Your City's Free Celebration</h2> <p>If you live in or near a major city, find out if your city has a &quot;first night&quot; or another kind of NYE celebration. For example, Los Angeles has a well-known <a href="http://grandparkla.org/ai1ec_event/new-years-eve-la/">free celebration</a> that attracts thousands. Simply Google &quot;NYE celebration [your city].&quot; Take a lyft or public transit to the event (because parking will be a nightmare) and have fun! Have a family? This is might be your most cost effective option. Single? Bring a wingman/woman with you for maximum fun.</p> <h2>4. Hit the Ice Skating Rink</h2> <p>This is a great way to have fun with other people without dealing with public drunkenness. Bring your family or invite some friends to a fun winter tradition like ice skating, another great <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-fun-winter-staycation-ideas">winter staycation trick</a>. If you don't live near an ice rink, try a classic roller skating rink instead! The per-person cost is similar to bowling, which is also very frugal.</p> <h2>5. See the Stars</h2> <p>Tired of the crowds, stress, and faux-glitz of New Year's Eve? Take a friend and hit the road to the nearest place away from the city, where you can see the stars. There's even a <a href="http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/quadrantids.html">meteor shower happening</a> during NYE. Bring your own treats, refreshments, blankets, and camp out. Reflect on the past year and discuss your goals for next year. Have your own countdown to midnight with sparklers and a thermos toast. It will be a special, quiet NYE you won't forget.</p> <p><em>How will you be spending NYE?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-frugal-non-depressing-ways-to-spend-nye">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-of-the-most-costly-new-years-eve-parties-ever">8 of the Most Costly New Year&#039;s Eve Parties Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-thanksgiving-in-a-tiny-apartment">How to Host Thanksgiving in a Tiny Apartment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-a-great-new-years-eve-party-for-cheap">How to Host a Great New Year&#039;s Eve Party for Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-ways-to-host-an-oktoberfest-party-on-the-cheap">16 Ways to Host an Oktoberfest Party on the Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less">15 Fun Nights Out for $5 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment cheap fun entertaining New Year's Eve new years parties Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:00:11 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1272451 at http://www.wisebread.com People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You? http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-decorating-christmas-tree-509894933-small.jpg" alt="man decorating christmas tree" title="man decorating christmas tree" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Christmas is in the air. Can you smell it? I can! I openly and unabashedly love Christmas. There's something about the way everything comes together &mdash; the middle of winter, the lights, the music, the food. I just love it.</p> <p>And how do I know I love it? Well these 9 signs are a good start.</p> <h2>1. Listen to Christmas Music Early and Often</h2> <p>There is nothing better than Christmas music. Not one single thing. I try to wait until December to listen to it, but some of my Christmas-freak friends listen to it all year round. I will say that nothing gets me into the holiday spirit better, even when I'm stressed or tired, than hearing the music I've heard since childhood.</p> <p>If you're not sure where to start, there are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/evan-bailyn/the-top-20-christmas-songs_b_4459862.html">Christmas playlists</a> all over the Internet. Or you can go through your own music collection and make a playlist for every Christmas mood.</p> <h2>2. Have a Favorite Christmas Movie (or Three!)</h2> <p>I know people who love <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002F6BRE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0002F6BRE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=D5J2O2ICVVD5EPRS">Elf</a>, people who watch <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HT3PPG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000HT3PPG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=W5TIR2AQ6NMCHFKO">Miracle on 34th Street</a> every year, and people who swear by <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HEWEJO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000HEWEJO&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=YO4QHKB5LUP6SS4C">It's a Wonderful Life</a>. Very few people have the same favorite Christmas movie, but nearly everyone who loves the season has at least one flick they return to every year.</p> <h2>3. Decorate With Meaningful Things</h2> <p>It's easy to find cheap Christmas decorations at Target or Walmart, and everyone needs some of these to fill in the gaps. But people who love Christmas save the best spots for decorations that mean something to them. Whether you're hanging the stockings your mother made you or ornaments celebrating the birth of a child, meaningful decorations help you remember to focus on family and on caring for one another, rather than on aspects of the season that make it more stressful.</p> <h2>4. Have the Perfect White Elephant Gift</h2> <p>No matter who you are or what you do, there's almost always some sort of white elephant gift exchange to attend. These can be as fun or as boring as you make them, and people who love Christmas often spend quite a bit of time and energy searching for the perfect terrible gift to add hilarity to these events. There's something fun and oh-so-Christmassy about bringing the gift that everyone (or no one!) wants. I tend to keep my eyes open year round, but I also know people who haunt thrift stores in the weeks leading up to an exchange, just waiting for someone to donate the perfect gift.</p> <h2>5. Use an Advent Calendar to Count Down the Days</h2> <p>One of the best parts of Christmas is that we look forward to it for so long. We know it's coming, and we get the joy of anticipation as we wait for the big day. When people really love this aspect of Christmas, they often buy an Advent calendar to enhance their sense of waiting. And there are so many options for these! You can get one with a piece of chocolate for each day, or you can make one with an ornament you can add to your tree each day, or you can get one <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J4S6U1W/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00J4S6U1W&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ZQHQOAIGBHZL476N">featuring Lego</a>. This year, I'm planning to wrap a Christmas book for my kids to open every day in December.</p> <h2>6. Buy Gifts With Meaning</h2> <p>Whether you like it or not, one of the important parts of Christmas, for most people, is giving and receiving gifts. While trying to get something for everyone and making sure you balance your spending can be hard, many people love Christmas because they get to buy meaningful gifts for everyone.</p> <h2>7. Bake a Favorite Christmas Treat</h2> <p>It's easy to get overwhelmed with cookies, cakes, appetizers, and everything else around the holidays. Many Christmas-lovers, though, have one or two favorite Christmas treats that they bake for themselves and their loved ones during the season. There's something about having that one cookie, the one your mom made for you when you were little, that can make or break the Christmas season.</p> <h2>8. Plan Some Down Time Around the Holiday</h2> <p>When people don't like Christmas, it's often because there's so much to do and so much stress around the holiday. You have to go to parties, get presents, put up decorations, navigate unhealthy food&hellip; It's no wonder people get tired out way before the big day even comes.</p> <p>For this reason, people who adore Christmas often plan down time into the season. Some families go away for a weekend. Others limit their activities to a certain number per week. Do whatever works for you, but you'll enjoy the season more if you're not running around like a crazy person the entire time.</p> <h2>9. Get in Touch With the People They Care About</h2> <p>If you don't want to call your family, for whatever reason, it's okay. You don't have to be with them, or even talk to them, on Christmas. But people who love Christmas do try to get in touch with someone they care about. This can be a friend or a neighbor &mdash; anybody, really, with whom you'd like to share a few moments of this special time of year.</p> <p><em>Do you love Christmas? What do you do to make it special?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season">12 Ways to Have a No-Spend Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-the-craziest-christmas-fanatics-do">7 Things the Craziest Christmas Fanatics Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/teach-your-kids-about-money-with-their-holiday-gift-lists">Teach Your Kids About Money With Their Holiday Gift Lists</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-secrets-to-a-debt-free-holiday-season">8 Secrets to a Debt-Free Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-goals-you-should-set-for-the-holidays">10 Money Goals You Should Set for the Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Christmas entertaining Food gifts Holidays traditions Fri, 05 Dec 2014 16:00:09 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1264074 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Host Thanksgiving in a Tiny Apartment http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-thanksgiving-in-a-tiny-apartment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-host-thanksgiving-in-a-tiny-apartment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/apartment-dinner-party-187088713-small.jpg" alt="apartment dinner party" title="apartment dinner party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've decided to accept the challenge of being the host with the most this Thanksgiving, but there's just one tiny problem &mdash; your smaller-than-small apartment. Time to panic? Nah. Before you cancel the fete, feast on these ways to work with what you've got &mdash; and still deliver an incredible dinner. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-recipes-for-a-frugal-vegetarian-thanksgiving?ref=seealso" style="text-decoration:none;">Simple Recipes for a Frugal Vegetarian Thanksgiving</a>)</p> <h2>Clear the Clutter as Soon as You Decide to Host</h2> <p>All right, hoarders, it's time to get busy; you've let that junk pile up long enough. Take this opportunity to clear out all your clutter so you can have a beautiful, <em>clean</em> apartment with plenty of space for your guests to sit back and relax on the holiday. Do this far enough in advance &mdash; and use your money-saving savvy to make a few bucks on items you don't want anymore &mdash; and you could possibly pay for the entire dinner with the cash you earned and have a few dollars to spare.</p> <h2>Keep the Guest List Manageable Given Your Space Constraints</h2> <p>You know how many people your home can handle, so don't overdo it. Only invite enough people for whom you have proper seats at a table or wherever you decide to eat. I live in a condo that has a breakfast bar that seats four, and I have a sturdy coffee table that guests can use to eat while sitting on the couch. That setup works for my friends and me, but it may not make everyone in your life comfortable. Let your guests know in advance how the dining situation will be arranged so they can make their own decision on whether or not they want to attend.</p> <h2>Ensure That You Have Enough Diningware to Accommodate Everybody</h2> <p>If you live in a small apartment, you probably have limited cabinet space &mdash; which means that you probably have limited diningware. Do a count once the guest list is set to ensure that you have all the plates, utensils, glasses, napkins, serving dishes, and so on that you'll need to host this dinner without a hitch. If you've come up short, you can either choose to buy more legit diningware, or you can opt to go plastic (the high-end stuff for this special occasion, of course), one of the only times I will recommend these otherwise money traps.</p> <h2>Plan a Menu That's Appetizing But Not Overly Complicated</h2> <p>If you like to cook like I do, you'll want to show off your kitchen skills by making fancy dishes to impress your guests at Thanksgiving. <em>Bad</em>. <em>Idea</em>.</p> <p>I've gone this route before and I've spent hours upon hours standing in the kitchen preparing a meal that has a million-and-one ingredients that turns out amazing but that I'm usually too exhausted to enjoy by the time it's ready to serve. And chances are, your guests would have been just as happy with Stovetop as they are with your from-scratch apple-sausage-sage cornbread stuffing. Trust me.</p> <p>What this also means in a small apartment is piles and piles of dishes claiming valuable dining real estate. Are you gonna wash all of them before serving dinner? I didn't think so. Thus, today is a day to enjoy your friends and celebrate the things for which you're thankful; embark on a mission of culinary excess and you'll curse the day you ever heard of Bobby Flay.</p> <h2>Prepare What You Can Ahead of Time &mdash; Like Earlier in the Week</h2> <p>Some dishes can be prepared ahead of time &mdash; like stuffings and mashed potatoes, for instance, and especially desserts &mdash; take advantage of the extra time to keep the dirty dishes to a minimum and enjoy more of your company when the big day arrives instead of slaving over a hot stove.</p> <h2>Assign Certain Aspects of the Meal to Your Guests</h2> <p>Another good way to save time, money, and space this Thanksgiving is to host a potluck Thanksgiving. If you plan to make the turkey, you can farm out the sides to a couple guests and ask others to bring bread, dessert, or a bottle of wine. A collaborative effort can definitely be fun, mind you, but it should be planned as the purpose of your Thanksgiving. What I mean by that is when you extend the initial invitation inform your guests that this will be a potluck meal. It's terrible form to spring this on somebody after the fact.</p> <h2>Rearrange Furniture for Optimal and Maximum Seating Potential</h2> <p>You should, without a doubt, have enough seating for your guests at dinner, but they'll also want to sit down in other areas around your apartment before and perhaps after the meal. In my apartment I arrange the four breakfast bar seats to face outward into the living room, I roll in my two office chairs, and put our metal coffee table against a wall, which creates a circle of seating that allows everyone to converse conveniently while also having a good view of the TV. This particular situation probably won't work for you, but with a little creativity you can create your own game plan to optimize your own relaxation station.</p> <h2>Consider a Buffet Table to Free Up the Dining Table</h2> <p>When I serve dinner for more than four in my apartment, I set up a buffet-style table in the foyer. This keeps the actual dining space clear of serving dishes so everyone can spread out and enjoy their meal with a little breathing room. This table has turned out to be a great investment as I've used it as a buffet table for multiple gatherings, but also to display items at a yard sale, an extra dining table in some cases, and a game-night table with the boys.</p> <h2>Designate an Out-of-the-Way Space for Outerwear</h2> <p>Where, oh where, will all those coats go? You don't want to put them on the furniture because that's taking up much-needed seating, and you really shouldn't put them on your bed for sanitary reasons (you can judge me for this, but I don't want people's clothes on the bedding I sleep on; it's just&hellip; eww).</p> <p>If you have a coat rack or hooks around your apartment, utilize those as well as extra closet space if you have it. Another practical solution is to put the outerwear on hangers and place them on your shower curtain if it's a very sturdy one. Your guests will use the restroom while they're there, but nobody should be showering unless y'all are really tight like that. Save time by pulling the hangers in advance of your guests' arrival so you can take their coats and hang them efficiently. It goes without saying that you should clean your bathroom beforehand so your guests will be comfortable with their coats in there &mdash; and so they don't call the health department on you after they leave.</p> <h2>Make Do and Have Fun</h2> <p>Don't sweat the small stuff. Literally. Just don't do it. Make the best of what you have using these tips and other suggestions in the comments section and around the Internet and you're good to go. Thanksgiving is special, and it only comes once a year. Enjoy it, my friends. Enjoy it hard because the evil that is January is on its way.</p> <p><em>Do you have other tips on how to host Thanksgiving in a tiny apartment? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-thanksgiving-in-a-tiny-apartment">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-frugal-non-depressing-ways-to-spend-nye">5 Frugal, Non-Depressing Ways to Spend NYE</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-thanksgiving-traditions-you-should-skip">5 Thanksgiving Traditions You Should Skip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party">How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-at-white-elephant-parties">4 Ways to Avoid Awkward Moments at White Elephant Parties</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fun-cheap-party-games-you-didnt-know-about">5 Fun, Cheap Party Games You Didn&#039;t Know About</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment dinner parties entertaining parties Thanksgiving Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1257548 at http://www.wisebread.com 20 Ways to Entertain Your Kids for Free http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family-baking-cookies-516622037-small.jpg" alt="family baking" title="family baking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever been stuck wondering what to do with your kids on the weekend, this list is for you. You don't need to spend a dime to entertain your family and bond in the process. Sometimes the best things in life really are free! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend?ref=seealso">47 cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>1. Visit Your Library</h2> <p>We frequent our local library at least every week for free storytimes. Plus, you can pick up books, DVDs, and other materials to entertain your child for free. Many libraries also arrange toys in their children's section, and it's a great place to meet other parents to set up play-dates.</p> <h2>2. Check the Community Calendar</h2> <p>While you're at the library, check your local paper (or click online) and any bulletin boards for any and all events going on in your area. Very often colleges, universities, and other community centers will host family events that are free and open to the public.</p> <h2>3. Crash Store Events</h2> <p>Sometimes book stores, grocery stores, craft stores, toy stores, and other merchants will host free activities. More often than not, these events are intended to get you to come into the store and buy things. So, consider leaving your cash and cards at home and sticking to the zero dollar budget.</p> <h2>4. Make Cookies</h2> <p>Spend a Saturday afternoon in and use your baking powers to mix up a big batch of sugar cookies. Take your time and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Then frost them. Get artistic. Encourage your child to take the lead. Small activities can turn into big learning experiences.</p> <h2>5. Play Games</h2> <p>Start a weekly tradition of playing board games with your kids. I've seen games that allow kids as young as three to participate. You can also try charades with older kids, and a deck of cards is useful in a pinch.</p> <h2>6. Camp at Home</h2> <p>Skip all the site fees and other camping costs and set up the family tent in your backyard. What I love about backyard camping is that you don't necessarily have to sleep outdoors to enjoy all the fun. And you can fire up the grill for a good old fashioned cookout! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-grill-pizza-at-home?ref=seealso">This Is How You Grill Pizza At Home</a>)</p> <h2>7. Create a Sensory Bin</h2> <p>The youngest children get a kick out of <a href="http://www.writingchapterthree.com/2012/08/rice-bins-and-gymnastics-mats.html">homemade sensory bins</a>. Fill a shallow plastic container (choose one with a top) with rice, corn kernels, uncooked noodles, and anything else that boasts some interesting texture. It's like a cleaner version of a sandbox that you can play with indoors.</p> <h2>8. Visit Museums on Free Days</h2> <p>Many museums are either free or donation-only. Those that do charge admission sometimes have admission-free days each month or season. Check the museum's website or call ahead for more information.</p> <h2>9. Reuse Cardboard Boxes</h2> <p>Take all the cardboard boxes you intend to recycle and turn them into something great. You can make race cars, boats, robots, and even entire houses! We often do our grocery shopping at Aldi and use the boxes they stock to transport our food home. Our daughter gets hours of enjoyment! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-never-buy-from-aldi?ref=seealso">What You Should Never Buy From Aldi</a>)</p> <h2>10. Build a Library</h2> <p>Have you heard of <a href="http://littlefreelibrary.org/">Little Free Libraries</a>? They are tiny &quot;houses&quot; you place books into for your neighbors to borrow. (They can leave books for you to read, too!) If this concept sounds cool to you, take a weekend to build and decorate a structure. Then identify a few old books on your shelf that you'd be willing to share. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-books-little-libraries-that-build-community-and-save-you-money?ref=seealso">Free Books: Little Libraries That Build Community</a>)</p> <h2>11. Melt Crayons</h2> <p>Take all those odds and ends of your child's crayons and turn them into neat shapes with swirled colors. You just preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, place crayons in a silicone mold, and <a href="http://comfyinthekitchen.com/2014/03/how-to-melt-crayons-into-molds/">bake for 15 minutes</a>. Let cool completely before using.</p> <h2>12. Ride a Bike</h2> <p>Head to a local park or hit the sidewalks for a family bike ride. You can have a destination in mind, like a playground, or just wander the streets. Sometimes you'll discover more free things to do &mdash; street performers, festivals, neighborhood gatherings &mdash; on the go.</p> <h2>13. Rake Leaves</h2> <p>It may seem like a chore at first, but getting the whole family involved with raking leaves will get the job done faster. Or maybe not. Half the fun of completing this chore with your kids is jumping in them. Make sure you drink a warm mug of cider when you're done.</p> <h2>14. Use Perks</h2> <p>If you have store or restaurant loyalty cards, take a weekend and use as many free meals, ice creams, pizzas, doughnuts, and whatever else you've earned. I like to store my coupons and cards in a plastic zip pocket inside a three-ring binder. That way, I don't lose anything and can quickly check there before heading out the door.</p> <h2>15. Go Geocaching</h2> <p>Take your family on a <a href="http://www.geocaching.com/guide/">real life treasure hunt</a> using your GPS device. You'll navigate to specific coordinates and look for clues to get you to your next destination. Little explorers are sure to love this activity.</p> <h2>16. Create a Home Theater</h2> <p>Save yourself the high ticket and concessions costs and watch a movie at home. Make it legit! Have the whole family wear their pajamas, pop some popcorn in your microwave, and turn out all the lights. You can even make it a double feature for the same $0.00 price tag.</p> <h2>17. Walk in Nature</h2> <p>Grab a bag or container and head into your backyard or local hiking trail. Have your child collect small plants, leaves, nuts, flowers, and any other natural treasures. Then bring them home <a href="http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Page=plantkey.php">and identify them</a>. Your little scientist might also like to make his or her <a href="http://www.mrspotter.com/terrariums-for-kids/">own terrarium</a> and add to the collections as weeks go on.</p> <h2>18. Party at the Beach</h2> <p>Well, now that the weather is getting colder, you won't go to the actual beach. Instead, have an <a href="http://www.howdoesshe.com/beat-the-winter-blues-throw-an-indoor-beach-party/">indoor beach party</a>. Turn the thermostat up a degree, fill up the tub with water and some floatation devices, and have you kid put on his or her swimsuit. You can lay out on the living room floor, pack and indoor picnic, and slip into your sandals.</p> <h2>19. Craft</h2> <p>You don't need an expensive subscription service to do crafts with your kids. Gather up all your crayons, markers, glues, glitters, stickers, pipe cleaners, and other supplies and create <a href="http://www.writingchapterthree.com/2014/09/diy-craft-kits-on-cheap.html">DIY Craft Kits</a>. Whatever you group together doesn't have to make anything specific. The magic is in the creativity.</p> <h2>20. Host a Sleepover</h2> <p>Invite a couple of your child's friends over for a sleepover using some of the activities above. You can make <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-make-restaurant-quality-pizza-at-home">homemade pizza</a> versus getting takeout. Play hide-and-seek with flashlights. Build forts. Play board games. If you kid is a little too young for a whole night, make it an afternoon!</p> <p><em>Any fun, free ways to keep the kids entertained that we forgot? Let us know below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-creative-no-mess-activities-for-kids-stuck-at-home">17 Creative, No-Mess Activities for Kids Stuck at Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do">14 Things Good Hosts Never Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party">How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-frugal-families-love-boardgame-night">8 Reasons Frugal Families Love Boardgame Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-relaxing-ways-to-enjoy-your-kids-first-day-at-school">23 Relaxing Ways to Enjoy Your Kid&#039;s First Day at School</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Lifestyle bored entertaining games kids Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1235098 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 Things Good Hosts Never Do http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-things-good-hosts-never-do" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/party-host-153544612-small.jpg" alt="party host" title="party host" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="144" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I throw a couple parties a year and host overnight guests regularly as an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-rent-your-place-on-airbnb-and-succeed?ref=seealso">Airbnb host</a>, but I'm far from the host with the most. Still, I strive to be better. That's why I polled a few friends and experts to see what's on their list of party fouls that a good host would never commit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-ruin-the-party-11-things-guests-with-good-social-skills-never-do?ref=seealso">Don't Ruin the Party: 11 Things Good Guests Never Do</a>)</p> <h2>1. Expect Gifts</h2> <p>I don't expect anyone to bring me a gift when I'm hosting &mdash; and, honestly, I'd rather they didn't bring a gift unless it's something consumable (who needs more <em>stuff</em>?), and I'm not alone. Relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, author of the critically acclaimed online advice column <a href="http://www.askapril.com">Ask April</a>, agrees. &quot;Good hosts will never insist on gifts. It's great to celebrate your birthday, anniversary or impending nuptials, but insisting or expecting gifts is greedy and bad form. That's not to say you shouldn't be gracious when you do receive presents, but if you're throwing an event to celebrate yourself, make sure the focus is on the celebration &mdash; not the bounty.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Let the Guests Fend for Themselves for Household Necessities</h2> <p>Susan Callender, founder of <a href="http://ohmygaucheinc.com/">Oh! My Gauche</a>, a service dedicated to social savvy and professional skills, says that good hosts will always have information on guest amenities &mdash; like password-protected Wi-Fi, washer/dryer, iron and ironing board, etc. &mdash; available where the guest can easily find them, like in a binder or folder in the guest bedroom. You also can add take-out menus, your home address and phone number (I doubt they have it memorized), and tourism information about your area if you'd like. It'll make the guest's stay hassle-free and more enjoyable.</p> <h2>3. Request That Guests Bring Something (Unless They Insist)</h2> <p>Whitney L. Smith, owner of the lifestyle blog <a href="http://pumpsandcircumstance.com/">Pumps &amp; Circumstance</a>, thinks it's rude for hosts to ask guests to bring an item to any event other than a potluck. &quot;I love entertaining, and one of the things I don't think is proper for a host to do is to request that guests bring something,&quot; she says. There is an exception, however: &quot;If guests <em>offer</em> to bring something it's OK to request ice or beverages, but to ask them to bring food is a no-no.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Let Guests Clean Up</h2> <p>The trash needs to go outside, your guest is on her way outside. Makes sense, right? Wrong. If they offer, great, but otherwise, hosting is not about efficiency; it's ultimately about providing a service to others.</p> <h2>5. Require Guests to Pay Unexpectedly</h2> <p>Maybe you're young, maybe you don't read Wise Bread enough and don't have the savings to throw a party where everything's covered. That's okay. But it needs to be made clear to your guests beforehand.</p> <h2>6. Make a Scene If Someone Brings an Unapproved +1</h2> <p>Gwendolyn Mulholland, owner of the family blog <a href="http://findingsanityinourcrazylife.com">Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life</a>, suggests that hosts suck it up and keep their mouths shut about a guest who brought a date when plus-ones weren't expected. I agree with her &mdash; there's nothing you can do about it now, short of kicking them out, and you don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, do you?</p> <p>However, to the guest who does this &mdash; you should consider yourself lucky when your host doesn't make a scene. Consider that the extra person could throw off the dynamic of the room, especially if guests were invited based on compatibility. Also, the host prepared food for the invited guests, not the surprise guest. What if he or she doesn't like what's being served? What if the host doesn't have enough food? There are a few invariables here that you really don't want to tilt too far. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests?ref=seealso">Quick Pantry Snacks for Uninvited Guests</a>)</p> <h2>7. Allow Anyone Underage to Drink</h2> <p>Advice columnist April Masini chimes in again with another really excellent tip: &quot;Good hosts never encourage underage guests to drink,&quot; she reminds us. &quot;Forget being the cool parent or the cool family friend. If there are underage teens and young adults at your home, you are responsible for what you serve them, and even if their parents say it's okay, it's your house, your rules. You'll save yourself a bundle of hassle if there's a potential accident that you are responsible for by serving underage guests, and if there isn't, you've set the standard at your house and everyone will know for next time. Better safe than sorry.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Run Out of Food and Drinks</h2> <p>When I host parties, I abide by the rule of seconds &mdash; I buy enough food for every guest to have them. Of course, some guests won't have seconds, so there may be a generous amount of food left (par for the course; it's always better to have more than enough than not enough), in which case you can do a few things:</p> <ul> <li>Send guests home with a plate for later.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pack the leftovers for lunch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Donate the food to a local organization whose volunteers might enjoy the home-cooked or catered food.</li> </ul> <h2>9. Neglect to Clean and Properly Stock the Bathroom Prior</h2> <p>Now we're getting into serious territory. If you've failed to stock your bathroom with the necessary essentials, you may very well embarrass the person who needs to call someone to bring the TP. Can you imagine? I'd die of humiliation and then come back to life as the ghost that haunts that terrible host forever. Also, there's this related tip from a friend: &quot;A good host would never invite someone over when their toilet is clogged. Been to a house party like that. Awful, awful experience.&quot; Let's leave it at that.</p> <h2>10. Stash Away the Good Bottle of Wine That the Guest Brought</h2> <p>&quot;A good host should always open a nice bottle of wine that a guests brings to a dinner or party,&quot; says Kelsey Graves founder of the party-inspiration site We Heart Parties. &quot;It is not polite to keep the nice bottle for yourself. Be sure to open it and share it with your guests.&quot; Another way to put it is: Stop being stingy, you lush!</p> <h2>11. Serve Themselves First</h2> <p>Let your guests have first dibs on the food that you've prepared &mdash; just like your grandmother did; she didn't eat until everybody else was fed, remember?</p> <h2>12. Allow Pets to Annoy Guests</h2> <p>I love dogs &mdash; I have a dog myself &mdash; but my husband and I take measures to ensure that he won't annoy guests when we host an event. For shorter gatherings, like a brunch at our house, he's fine in our bedroom for a couple hours. But for longer parties &mdash; like around the holidays &mdash; it's best for us to send him to daycare for the night where he can play with his furry friends while our guests can enjoy themselves without an animal begging for food or attention.</p> <h2>13. Fail to Introduce Guests Who Don't Know Each Other</h2> <p>If the party is heavy on mixed company, it's the host's job to acquaint everyone at the beginning. Make a habit of making introductions as soon as a guest arrives, so you don't get preoccupied, forget about the person, and let him fend for himself. Some people just aren't comfortable going up to strangers and making small talk. Not that I'm at all bitter or speaking from personal experience, of course.</p> <h2>14. Invite the Wrong Mix of People</h2> <p>If you're inviting a mixed bag of people who don't necessarily know each other, it's wise to consider the potential compatibility of guests as well, especially for a sit-down event or an overnight excursion.</p> <p>I tend to invite singles that I think might compliment each other and couples with similar interests. For an intimate dinner, for example, I'm definitely not inviting my very religious friends to dine with my LGBT-activist friends. While I'm all for rousing dinner conversation, there are some things better left unsaid. It also wouldn't be very fun for a single friend to attend an event filled with only couples. While not every person will become besties, you at least want the group to enjoy each other's company for a couple hours.</p> <p><em>What are some things that you think good hosts should never do? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-out-of-social-obligations-that-break-your-budget">How to Get Out of Social Obligations That Break Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free">20 Ways to Entertain Your Kids for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party">How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-a-good-and-memorable-first-impression">Making a good and memorable first impression.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-can-do-in-denver-that-you-cant-do-anywhere-else">8 Things You Can Do in Denver That You Can&#039;t Do Anywhere Else</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Lifestyle dinner entertaining guests host party pot luck Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1160904 at http://www.wisebread.com 50 Fun, Free Ways to Have a Great Time With Friends http://www.wisebread.com/50-fun-free-ways-to-have-a-great-time-with-friends <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/50-fun-free-ways-to-have-a-great-time-with-friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-dv442025.jpg" alt="friends" title="friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="181" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Meeting friends for dinner and a movie is one way to spend a weekend night. But sometimes, you may not have the budget or the desire to hit the town. Fortunately, you don't have to venture out to have a good time. Whether you're getting together with three or ten of your closest friends, here are 50 fun, free things you can do when you invite friends over. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends?ref=seealso">10 Frugal Ways to Hang Out With Friends</a>)</p> <h2>1. Post Videos to YouTube</h2> <p>Get creative and come up with a comedy skit, a short movie, or commentary on an important or trending event. Upload your video and share it with your friends on social media; and you might become the next viral hit.</p> <h2>2. Host a Spa Day at Home</h2> <p>You don't have to spend hundreds to enjoy a spa day. Invite a few of your closest friends to the house and give each other makeovers. Check out online tutorials and experiment with hairstyle and makeup tricks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-spa-treatments-you-can-do-at-home?ref=seealso">DIY Spa Treatments</a>)</p> <h2>3. Watch Reruns of Old Shows</h2> <p>Pick a classic show, such as &quot;Star Trek: The Next Generation,&quot; &quot;Saved by the Bell&quot;, or &quot;Good Times,&quot; or whatever your favorite is. See if these episodes are available on <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-11443443">Netflix</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DBYBNEE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DBYBNEE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Amazon Prime</a>, and binge.</p> <h2>4. Make a Bucket List</h2> <p>Ask each person to write a list of 10 to 20 things they want to do before they die. Compare lists to see if you have anything in common with your friends. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-s-on-your-travel-bucketlist?ref=seealso">What's on Your Travel Bucket List?</a>)</p> <h2>5. Play &quot;Michael Jackson: The Experience&quot;</h2> <p>Get moving and enjoy a few laughs at the same time. Turn on your Wii, pop in the disc, and spend the next couple of hours reliving the '80s and '90s. Or play another fun, movement-based video game.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/50friends-sb10061547bt-001-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h2>6. Musical Chairs</h2> <p>Childhood fun doesn't have to end just because you're a little older. With only three or four people &mdash; and one less chair &mdash; it'll be a night that you'll never forget.</p> <h2>7. Write a Parody of a Song</h2> <p>Take a popular song and alter the lyrics to poke fun or ridicule the original work.</p> <h2>8. Bake Cookies</h2> <p>Satisfy your sweet tooth using ingredients already in your pantry, such as flour, eggs, milk, and sugar. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-easy-and-scrumptious-microwaveable-desserts?ref=seealso">Microwaveable Desserts</a>)</p> <h2>9. Explore YouTube</h2> <p>Search YouTube and find the next undiscovered viral video. Make sure you share this video across your various social media networks.</p> <h2>10. Sing Together</h2> <p>Pull out the karaoke machine or connect your iPod to speakers and sing along to some of your favorite tunes.</p> <h2>11. Host a Slumber Party</h2> <p>Ask everyone to bring their favorite game, drink, and junk food. Your friends can hang out all night and drive home in the morning.</p> <h2>12. Host a Cinema Trilogy Marathon</h2> <p>Have a marathon where the group watches some of the best trilogies in one night, such as &quot;Back to the Future&quot; or &quot;Star Wars.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-an-awesome-frugal-movie-night?ref=seealso">How to Host a Movie Night</a>)</p> <h2>13. Play Monopoly (or Any Other Board Game)</h2> <p>Break out the Monopoly board and you're guaranteed three to four hours of fun.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/50friends-156725311-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h2>14. Make Your Own Ice Cream Creation</h2> <p>Start with plain vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and then add toppings according to what's available in your kitchen. Maybe a crushed candy bar, peanuts, cookies, and any other sweet treat hiding in your cabinet.</p> <h2>15. Water Balloon Fight</h2> <p>Maybe the beach or pool is too far away. Fill a bunch of balloons with water, and enjoy classic summer fun with your friends.</p> <h2>16. Roast Marshmallows</h2> <p>All you need are graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate &mdash; and of course, a fireplace or outdoor fire pit.</p> <h2>17. Design T-Shirts</h2> <p>If you have tie-dye dye, tell your friends to bring over an old white T-shirt, tank top, or scarf. It's a fun way to get in touch with your creative and hippie side.</p> <h2>18. Play Poker</h2> <p>This isn't the smartest choice if you're broke or trying to save money. But if you play with candy, chips, and cookies instead of cash, you can have an enjoyable time without going broke.</p> <h2>19. Play Spades</h2> <p>Here's another fun card game that doesn't involve spending your hard-earned cash. If you're bored with spades, head online and check out instructions for <a href="http://www.pagat.com/">new card games</a>.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/50friends-162242215-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h2>20. Pillow Fight</h2> <p>Grab a few throw pillows from the couch or pillows from the bedroom and have a playful smack down.</p> <h2>21. Soul Train Line</h2> <p>Put on some disco or R&amp;B tunes from the 70s or 80s and show off your classic dance moves.</p> <h2>22. Play Twister</h2> <p>Relive your childhood with a game that's certain to end with laughs and new memories.</p> <h2>23. Reminisce</h2> <p>Think back to when you first met each other. Was it a funny or unique circumstance? Share this memory with the group.</p> <h2>24. Play Tug-of-War</h2> <p>All you need is a jump rope and two or three people on each side. The losing team has to buy drinks the next time you go out.</p> <h2>25. Play Bartender</h2> <p>Using only what's available in your cabinet and refrigerator, come up with new drink concoctions. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tasty-two-ingredient-cocktails?ref=seealso"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#1155cc;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">20 Two-Ingredient Cocktails</span></a>)</p> <h2>26. Tell Scary Stories</h2> <p>Turn off the lights and tell scary stories &mdash; either true or fictional.</p> <h2>27. Play Truth or Dare</h2> <p>This is the perfect opportunity to get answers to your most burning questions. And if your friend chooses dare, make it a good one.</p> <h2>28. Blind Taste Test</h2> <p>Blindfold a friend. Give this person food or a drink to taste, and have him guess what it is.</p> <h2>29. Build a Snowman</h2> <p>Enjoy a snow day and build a snowman. If there's enough snow on the ground, build a snow mountain and slide down.</p> <h2>30. Make Up a Funny Story</h2> <p>Start a story and have each person in the room add a funny line. Turn on your recorder if you want to be able to laugh about it later.</p> <h2>31. Wii Tennis Tournament</h2> <p>If it's too cold to hit the actual pavement, invite a few friends over for an indoor tennis tournament. Each person will play the winner from the previous game until there's one man standing.</p> <h2>32. Make Paper Airplanes</h2> <p>Construct paper airplanes and have a contest to see whose design flies the farthest.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/woman-5029902-small-ggnoads.jpg" /></p> <h2>33. Play in the Rain</h2> <p>As long as it isn't thundering, flashing lightning, or too cold, enjoy a game of frisbee or kickball in the rain.</p> <h2>34. Play Hide and Seek</h2> <p>With no room off-limit, you can have a fun game of hide and seek throughout your entire house.</p> <h2>35. Play Marco Polo With a Water Hose</h2> <p>You don't need a pool to enjoy this kind of fun. Have the &quot;it&quot; person hold a water hose and spray in the direction of voices.</p> <h2>36. Look Through Your Old Yearbooks</h2> <p>Look at old photographs and poke fun at your unique and outdated styles.</p> <h2>37. Play the Telephone Game</h2> <p>The more people you have playing, the better. Whisper a long sentence into the first person's ear, and this person will whisper the same message to the next person, and so forth. Have the last person say the message out loud, and see what you get.</p> <h2>38. Play Pictionary</h2> <p>You don't have to be the best artist to enjoy this game. As a matter of fact, the inability to draw is part of the fun. And you don't even need the official board &mdash; <a href="http://www.thegamegal.com/2010/11/06/pictionary/">all you need is a word list</a> and a few rules.</p> <h2>39. Play Indoor Foot Volleyball</h2> <p>Grab a soft, plastic ball, and using only your feet, try to keep the ball in the air.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/50friends-450744153-ggnoads.jpg" /></p> <h2>40. Play Digital Hot Potato</h2> <p>You'll need a camera with a timer to enjoy this game. Set the timer, and then pass the camera around the room. Each person should hold the camera for two seconds before passing it to the next person. You're eliminated from the game if the camera snaps while in your hands. Keep going until there's one person left in the game.&nbsp;</p> <h2>41. Host a Poetry Night</h2> <p>Get in touch with your cultural side and invite over a few poetry lovers. Each can share his or her personal poetry or recite a favorite poem written by another person.</p> <h2>42. Name That Tune</h2> <p>Grab your iPod and play a snippet of a few songs. The first person to identify the song should blurt out the answer.</p> <h2>43. Learn Something New</h2> <p>Have a friend who knows how to play guitar? Have her teach everyone&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13px;">&mdash; and when someone else is playing, everyone can sing along!</span></p> <h2>44. Gargle Songs</h2> <p>Take a sip of water and then gargle your favorite song as your friends guess the tune.</p> <h2>45. Play Limbo</h2> <p>Grab a broomstick and your most upbeat playlist, and see how low you can go.</p> <h2>46. Play Six Degrees of Separation</h2> <p>This is by far one of my favorites. Pick two celebrities at random and have each person in the room write down how they're connected either through their movies or romantic past. The friend with the shortest link wins.</p> <h2>47. &quot;Would You Rather&quot;</h2> <p>Another fun game. Give a friend two choices and ask which one he would rather do. The more bizarre the choices, the more fun you'll have.</p> <h2>48. Watch Cult Classics</h2> <p>&quot;Sixteen Candles,&quot; &quot;The Breakfast Club,&quot; or &quot;The Lost Boys&quot; &mdash; if anyone in your group hasn't seen any of these flicks or other cult classics, spend a night playing catch-up.</p> <h2>49. Have a Craft Night</h2> <p>Using items you and your friends have around, have a craft night! You can make cards, knit, or do whatever else you feel like.</p> <h2>50. Wooden Spoons</h2> <p>Blindfold the &quot;it&quot; person and give this person a pair of wooden spoons. The object is to touch and identify another person using only the spoons.</p> <p><em>Do you have other fun, free activities that you and your friends can do when they come over? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-fun-free-ways-to-have-a-great-time-with-friends">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beat-stress-with-these-28-inexpensive-pastimes">Beat Stress With These 28 Inexpensive Pastimes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-frugal-families-love-boardgame-night">8 Reasons Frugal Families Love Boardgame Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-more-hobbies-you-can-start-for-free">10 More Hobbies You Can Start for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free">20 Ways to Entertain Your Kids for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-save-money-by-subscribing-to-an-addictive-game">Could you save money by subscribing to an addictive game?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living entertaining free fun games Mon, 17 Mar 2014 10:36:43 +0000 Mikey Rox 1130643 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Fun Nights Out for $5 or Less http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/night-80405954.jpg" alt="friends" title="friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After all my fixed expenses are accounted for in my budget, there's not a ton left for the extras. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to entertaining myself on the cheap. And it's easier than you might think to find things to do. It just takes a little research and a lot of creativity, but you can certainly spend $5 (or less) and have an enjoyable time out. You may even learn something new! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-beat-the-sunday-night-blues?ref=seealso">How to Beat the Sunday Night Blues</a>)</p> <h2>1. Get Your Sweat On</h2> <p>Looking for a healthy way to spend Friday night? Search around to find yoga studios and other fitness establishments in your area. Many offer complimentary or low-cost classes to first-timers. Make plans with a friend to stretch and strengthen your muscles, and then grab a smoothie afterward. Just be sure to call ahead and ensure there's enough space in the class you want to attend (as well as if there are any potential hidden charges).</p> <h2>2. Check Out Some Art</h2> <p>Many communities large and small offer once-monthly (or sometimes weekly) art walks highlighting local painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, etc. The one in my area is called &quot;First Friday,&quot; and it's free to attend. If I'm on a budget, I skip a meal out and opt instead to grab a drink with a friend. Then we stroll along the streets and take it all in. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-diy-ideas-for-creating-inexpensive-art?ref=seealso">How to Make Art on the Cheap</a>)</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/night-81176328-ggnoads.jpg" /></p> <h2>3. Scope Out Local Festivals</h2> <p>The same goes for all those open-air concerts and festivals happening in your hometown. As we get into the spring and summer months, there are more and more free events held by cities and towns, cultural groups, churches, and many more organizations. In our area alone, we have festivals celebrating Italian, Greek, and Ukrainian cultures and cuisines; Jazz, Classical, and Folk music; Chocolate, Strawberries, Garlic, and other local foods; and much more. These events often take their low admission costs and toss them back into the community.</p> <h2>4. Listen to Music</h2> <p>In my city, we are lucky to have a state university with a solid music program. The events calendar is teeming with student recitals that are free and open to the public. Many of these concerts are during the daytime hours, but every so often there are evening offerings as well. I've seen everything from a solo soprano to a small jazz ensemble perform, and I love knowing that I'm helping students practice their craft for an audience.</p> <h2>5. Sing a Tune</h2> <p>If you'd rather <em>make</em> music than sit in the audience, a rousing night of karaoke might be for you. Many bars offer this type of event for free, so the rest is up to you for how much you want to spend on drinks and food. I like to eat something beforehand and then grab a beer and some free popcorn (or whatever other type of complementary munchie is on the bar). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends?ref=seealso">How to Have a Cheap Night Out</a>)</p> <h2>6. Challenge Your Mind</h2> <p>One of my favorite activities is heading with my husband to our favorite bar and getting a team together for trivia night. If we get enough people, we can split a pitcher of cheap beer and even a pizza, making it a very affordable night-out option. The best part? We learn some fun, useless information and &mdash; if we come in first &mdash; we win gift certificates or cash to afford free eats the next time we want to play.</p> <h2>7. Soak in Some Screen Time</h2> <p>While this one might not be specifically for you night owls, when I became a parent, my definition of &quot;night out&quot; also came to encompass the afternoons or whenever we can secure babysitting. Though traditional matinees might come in over $5 a person, local colleges and universities sometimes have cinemas on campus that are open to the public with lower ticket rates. We used to live in Ithaca, NY, and daytime weekend movies at Cornell Cinema came in at just $5 a person. We saw some really interesting stuff there we might not have heard of otherwise. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free?ref=seealso">Watch Movies in the Theater for Free</a>)</p> <h2>8. Make It Social</h2> <p>Are you a member of a local club or organization? If not, you should see what's available in your area. Where I live, there are groups focused on hiking, running, photography, parenting, and just about anything else you can dream up. And many of these groups host free or low-cost events for members. Just recently I took a 90-minute Hot Yoga for Runners workshop through our club for less than half the normal price, and I got to spend time with my friends to boot!</p> <h2>9. Pack a Picnic</h2> <p>When the warmer weather hits, I love to come up with a fun menu of packable foods and head to a local park for a simple picnic. It's an intimate way to spend an evening, but definitely a nice change of pace if you're inside all day long. Don't forget a blanket, candles, and utensils. Since there aren't any costs besides food, you can get as creative as you'd like and even use up items from your pantry to make it free.</p> <h2>10. See the Sights</h2> <p>Many areas have museums that offer either free or inexpensive admission. Even if there is a higher cost associated, check out the museum's events calendar to discover special discount nights &mdash; most have them at least once a month. If you're a history nerd like me, you can spend hours wandering around. While we often take these places for granted, it's incredible to see the different exhibits on display. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-free-things-to-do-in-any-city-you-visit?ref=seealso">Free Things to Do in Any City</a>)</p> <h2>11. Go Literary</h2> <p>Along these same lines, many educational institutions, libraries, and book stores offer free poetry and prose readings by writers from the local community to the international scene. Again, it's all about checking out those event calendars and getting there early to grab a spot in the crowd. Grab a coffee with a friend afterward to discuss.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/night-79767132-ggnoads.jpg" /></p> <h2>12. Volunteer</h2> <p>There are lots of great causes and organizations that need help morning, noon, and night. Consider getting a group together &mdash; or heading out on your own &mdash; to give the gift of your time. You might meet some awesome people and form long-lasting friendships in the process. Plus, it's free.</p> <h2>13. Sample Local Flavor</h2> <p>Head to your local brewery, winery, or wherever else serves up samples and tastings, and get a flight of their current offerings. If a flight is too expensive (prices range wildly across the country), grab a pint or glass of something you've never tried before and sip slowly to savor. Some of these places have specials too, so be sure to ask around and make some mental notes.</p> <h2>14. Kid Around</h2> <p>Remember bowling, mini golf, ice skating, and batting cages? All this stuff we found fun as kids can be just as entertaining now that we're adults. The cost for a bowling game at our local alley is an incredibly low $2 a person with a $1 shoe rental. Add a pitcher of beer at $2 a person, and you've got yourself quite a nostalgic night.</p> <h2>15. Use Your Perks</h2> <p>Depending on where you work or go to school, many companies and institutions offer free or discounted rates for the various local establishments in the examples above. Find out what perks are due to you, and you can certainly whittle down your entertainment costs and start doing more for less with your evenings and weekends.</p> <p><em>Obviously not all these activities are priced the same in every location, so I'd love to know what fun activities you fill your time with for less than $5 a person. Even better &mdash; what nights out have you enjoyed for free?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-and-romantic-dates-at-home">18 Frugal and Romantic Dates at Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-frugal-non-depressing-ways-to-spend-nye">5 Frugal, Non-Depressing Ways to Spend NYE</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends">10 Ways to Have a Cheaper Evening Hanging Out With Friends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-can-do-in-denver-that-you-cant-do-anywhere-else">8 Things You Can Do in Denver That You Can&#039;t Do Anywhere Else</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free">How to Watch Movies in the Theater for Free</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment cheap dates cheap fun entertaining Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:36:34 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1129401 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Have a Cheaper Evening Hanging Out With Friends http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-5336095-small.jpg" alt="friends cooking" title="friends cooking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The fact that you don&rsquo;t have a lot of money doesn&rsquo;t mean spending your evenings at home, alone. For some, hanging out with friends is an excuse to blow all their extra cash on drinks and food. But having fun isn&rsquo;t about how much you can spend &mdash; it&rsquo;s about the quality time you share with those close to you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-free-ways-to-show-you-care">Free Ways to Show You Care</a>)</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking for cheap fun on the weekends or after work, here are 10 ways to hang out without going broke.</p> <h2>1. Go to a Cheap Movie</h2> <p>If you want to see a movie, but don&rsquo;t want to pay $10 to $15 for a single movie ticket, head to a second-run theater. These ticket prices are far cheaper than normal theaters, averaging $1.50 to $5. You can save more by skipping popcorn and soda. But even if you decide to purchase snacks, what you spend on the entire night may still be cheaper than a single regular ticket.</p> <h2>2. Hit the Bowling Alley</h2> <p>Maybe the movie theater is too quiet, and you need a bit more excitement. Bowling is another fun, cheap way to spend your evening. You&rsquo;ll pay about $2 or $2.50 for the shoe rental and around $4.50 per game. Play two games, eat before you arrive, and purchase no more than two drinks; and you can enjoy the entire night for under $20.</p> <h2>3. Sing Karaoke</h2> <p>It doesn&rsquo;t matter how bad you sing, a night of karaoke creates memories. Go to a local restaurant or other nightspot, split an appetizer with your friends, and prepare to have the time of your life. And if one of your friends has a karaoke machine at his or her house &mdash; even better. For a cheap night, bring your own drink and share the cost of pizza and wings.</p> <h2>4. Lounge at a Sports Bar</h2> <p>Whether it&rsquo;s football, basketball, or any other sporting season, get off the couch and take the fun to a local sports bar. You can watch the game while catching up with friends. To keep costs to a minimum, choose sports bars with evening deals like half off appetizers or alcohol.</p> <h2>5. Watch Seasons of a Television Show</h2> <p>Do you have a subscription to Netflix or HuluPlus? If so, get with some friends, pick a television show that none of you have seen, and watch the entire series beginning with season one. Take turns at each other&rsquo;s houses watching three or four episodes at a time over popcorn, pizza, and drinks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained">8 Alternatives to Cable TV</a>)</p> <h2>6. Free Wine Tasting</h2> <p>Search online or check the newspaper for free wine tasting events in your area. This is an entertaining and inexpensive way to sample a variety of wines, and there&rsquo;s usually no obligation to make a wine purchase. Events are normally held at restaurants, wine stores, and wineries. The perfect choice if you&rsquo;re looking for a change of pace &mdash; just make sure there&rsquo;s a designated driver.</p> <h2>7. Trivia Night</h2> <p>Most big cities have a handful of bars and restaurants that host weekly trivia nights. Grab four or five friends, and test your knowledge at some of the most wacky, random questions. The fun typically starts around 8 or 9 p.m., and prizes can range from free appetizers to cash. And since many establishments have food and drink specials on trivia nights, you don&rsquo;t have to worry about breaking your budget on eats.</p> <h2>8. Cook Together</h2> <p>Maybe you&rsquo;re in the mood for a gourmet meal, but you don&rsquo;t have a gourmet bank account. A cheaper evening with friends doesn&rsquo;t always mean pizza and wings. You may not be able to afford a night on the town, but who says you can&rsquo;t prepare a fabulous meal at home? Get with your friends, plan a nice menu, and split the cost of ingredients. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a>)</p> <h2>9. Go for Dessert</h2> <p>Some of the best evenings can be spent simply talking with friends. But don&rsquo;t sit around your living room. If you&rsquo;ve already eaten and want to hit the town for a couple hours, call up your friends and go to a nearby frozen yogurt bar. Pile your bowl with the tastiest toppings, grab an outdoor table, and enjoy a few laughs. If frozen yogurt isn&rsquo;t your thing, split a dessert at a restaurant.</p> <h2>10. Take a Class</h2> <p>Are you ready to try your hand at something new? Spice it up and take a one-time class with friends. Check with your local community center or lifestyle center for upcoming classes. You may stumble upon a variety of pay-as-you-go classes costing as little as $10 per session. Dancing, cooking, fitness, pottery &mdash; take your pick and have fun! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-classes-that-can-pay-for-themselves">10 Classes That Pay for Themselves</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you hang out with your friends without spending much?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-and-romantic-dates-at-home">18 Frugal and Romantic Dates at Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less">15 Fun Nights Out for $5 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free">How to Watch Movies in the Theater for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-cheap-summer-date-ideas">23 Cheap Summer Date Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do">14 Things Good Hosts Never Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment cheap dates entertaining friends Tue, 22 Oct 2013 10:24:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1041946 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Frugal and Romantic Dates at Home http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-and-romantic-dates-at-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-frugal-and-romantic-dates-at-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-3671546-small.jpg" alt="date" title="date" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're a parent, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-on-babysitting-without-ending-up-on-the-local-news">paying the babysitter can use up your whole date night budget</a>. And even for couples without children, if money is tight, the cost of dining at a restaurant or buying tickets to the movies can be out of reach. Meeting in public may be important when you're first dating and need the opportunity to leave quickly if things don't go well. But once you're a couple, the occasional at-home date night becomes awfully attractive, both budget- and comfort-wise. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/classy-dating-on-a-budget">Classy Dating on a Budget</a>)</p> <p>Really, what is a date about? It's about putting aside several contiguous hours to focus on enjoying your partner's company. There's nothing stopping you from doing that at home, if you take time to prepare something more special than what you'd normally be doing, and make sure that you won't be bothered by home responsibilities. Clean or tidy up the area where you'll have your home date in advance, so you won't be distracted by housekeeping duties. If you have kids, put them to bed or in front of a video, or banish teens to their friends' houses for the evening. Then, relax and indulge in one of these date night ideas.</p> <h2>1. Enjoy a Candlelit Dinner</h2> <p>Particularly special if you usually spend the dinner hour cutting up little ones' meat or reminding other &quot;diners&quot; that we do not shout &quot;gross&quot; at the table. My husband and I like to use the occasional dinner for two as an opportunity to order takeout that the kids would hate &mdash; like spicy Indian food &mdash; or cook something they wouldn't appreciate like filet mignon.</p> <h2>2. Take in a Movie</h2> <p>Watching TV at home with your sweetie might not seem like anything special, but you can ratchet up the sense of occasion by picking a new release movie in advance and stocking treats, like a good bottle of wine and gourmet popcorn. At our house, we find that if we are just browsing Netflix, we tend to pick something short and &quot;easy&quot; like a TV series. To mark those serious dramas off our to-watch list, we need to set a date.</p> <h2>3. Do Dessert</h2> <p>Don't want to make yourself a whole separate dinner? Sometimes that's just too much work. Why not buy something indulgent from that bakery you've always wanted to try, or just acquire some super-special dessert ingredients and make something together? The blog <a target="_blank" href="http://couponistaqueen.com/30-frugal-date-ideas/">Couponista Queen</a> suggests making sundaes at home.</p> <h2>4. Play</h2> <p>A game, that is. Put out a bowl of chips and sit down with Scrabble or another good two-person game, if you're into that kind of thing. A board game date is great because it forces you to sit down and spend a few hours together without getting distracted. One friend suggested strip Scrabble, but with the length of the average Scrabble game, that sounds...drafty.</p> <h2>5. Puzzle It Out</h2> <p>When my husband and I started a difficult, many-piece puzzle recently, we found it led to us spending <em>many</em> evenings together, without the benefit of a date plan. We could not stay away from that puzzle until it was finished, and in the process, we had a lot of nice talks and watched a few movies to boot.</p> <h2>6. Breakfast in Bed</h2> <p>Who says dates have to be at night? The blog <a target="_blank" href="http://www.tammileetips.com/2013/01/frugal-date-ideas/">Tammilee Tips suggests breakfast in bed</a>. Prep an indulgent breakfast the night before and either surprise your honey or just treat yourselves. If it's Sunday, stay in bed and do the New York Times crossword puzzle together.</p> <h2>7. Have a &quot;Console-Ation&quot; Date</h2> <p>You can't afford to go out, but you still have a game console. Get it?? Maybe you're the type of couple who loves to mow down terrorists together, but even if you're not, chances are a karaoke game or Just Dance will get you laughing together.</p> <h2>8. Schedule a Massage</h2> <p>A shoulder rub between spouses may be routine, but again, preparation can up the ante here. Invest in a massage oil with that great minty scent that spas have. Set up the massage area with music and pillows to approximate the desired setting as best you can. Whether you're going for the atmosphere of a pristine spa or a seedy bathhouse is your own business.</p> <p>If you have a budget for the date, you could use a Groupon for an in-home massage therapist or two to come work on you, suggests Marta Segal Block, blogger at <a target="_blank" href="http://advicefrommarta.com/">Advice from Marta</a>.</p> <h2>9. Take a Dip</h2> <p>Have your own pool? When's the last time you took a moonlight swim for two?</p> <h2>10. Stargaze</h2> <p>If you live in an area with low light pollution, this could be a nice way to feel like you are getting out &mdash; way out &mdash; without leaving your property. Borrow or buy a nice telescope to make this really special.</p> <h2>11. DIY a Drive-In</h2> <p>Nowadays, any place within the reach of your Wi-Fi connection can be a movie theater if you have a laptop with a big screen. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/blogs/smitten/2013/05/date-ideas-for-memorial-day-we.html">Glamour magazine suggests a blanket on the lawn</a> for your movie night, or try a comfy love seat on the deck, if you've got one.</p> <h2>12. Set Up Your Own Wine Tasting</h2> <p>Boring night in &mdash; open a bottle of wine, slug it down between loads of laundry. Date night in &mdash; write some keywords from Wine Spectator reviews on a little chalkboard <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-wines-under-10-dollars">in front of each bottle</a>, line up glasses with tastes, swish it around in your mouth and throw around words like &quot;hints of leather.&quot;</p> <h2>13. Cocktail Party for Two</h2> <p>Again, a simple drink at home is everyday. But when's the last time you crushed fresh lime for a real mojito or made sangria at home? Pull out all the stops &mdash; and the fancy glassware.</p> <h2>14. Backyard Campfire</h2> <p>If your area allows a fire pit, this is a great way to feel transported without leaving your property.</p> <h2>15. Take an Online Class Together</h2> <p>Did you meet in college? Miss those days when you'd lose track of what the teacher was saying because you were busy making googly eyes at one another? Plug in those laptops and start ignoring the teacher together again.</p> <h2>16. Have a YouTube Festival</h2> <p>You've seen <a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uDuls5TyNE">Maru the cat</a> with your coworkers, but it's even more fun to laugh with the one you love. Queue up a bunch of short videos on a theme, get comfy, and click &quot;play.&quot;</p> <h2>17. Make Something Together</h2> <p>I don't mean like, whoopie. You don't need me to tell you how to do that. I mean: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">a craft project</a>, a batch of cookies, a birdhouse. For some couples, these are fun times. For others (I'm not naming names) a joint project is just an opportunity to practice those &quot;feeling words&quot; your therapist taught you.</p> <h2>18. Make Out in the Car</h2> <p><em>What?</em> It was romantic when you were in high school, so why not now? If your house is now full of nosy teenagers, maybe it's time to escape them the way you once escaped your parents. And chances are, you now have more comfortable upholstery.</p> <p><em>What have been your best home date-night dates?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-and-romantic-dates-at-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-evening-hanging-out-with-friends">10 Ways to Have a Cheaper Evening Hanging Out With Friends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less">15 Fun Nights Out for $5 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free">How to Watch Movies in the Theater for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/53-fun-nights-out-for-10-or-less">53 Fun Nights Out for $10 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-cheap-summer-date-ideas">23 Cheap Summer Date Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment cheap dates date night entertaining staying in Wed, 29 May 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Carrie Kirby 976222 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Ideas for Entertaining on a Budget http://www.wisebread.com/13-ideas-for-entertaining-on-a-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-ideas-for-entertaining-on-a-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fun-4950529-small.jpg" alt="karaoke" title="karaoke" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hosting a party at your home doesn't always have to drain your wallet &mdash; you can be a hostess with the mostest on a littlest budget. The main thing you have to keep in mind is to focus on the experience. If the activity is fun enough, then there's no need for expensive decor and fancy appetizers. (<a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Cheap-Ways-Treat-Yourself-22129255" target="_blank">RELATED: 22 Cheap Ways to Treat Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>1. Music Swap</h2> <p>Ask friends to come over with <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Music-Exchange-Party-29638308" target="_blank">their favorite songs</a>, make sure you have speakers set up for all to hear, and listen to some jams all night.</p> <h2>2. Board-Game Potluck</h2> <p>Invite over a handful of friends, and ask each person to bring his or her <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Budget-Friendly-Party-Ideas-21246007" target="_blank">favorite board game plus a snack</a> to share. Take care of the drinks yourself or ask guests to pitch in if things become costly.</p> <h2>3. Nail Party</h2> <p>Do something different from the usual movie or board-game night this weekend &mdash; organize <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Throw-Nail-Party-24592436" target="_blank">a nail party</a> with your girlfriends. Use this as an opportunity to try out fun nail art that would cost a lot of money to get done in a salon</p> <h2>4. Magazine Article Club</h2> <p>This weekend, instead of hosting a book club, <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Hosting-Magazine-Article-Club-28472320" target="_blank">plan a magazine article night</a>. It's very simple: just pick an article you find interesting and ask your friends to read it, too. Then you can all come together over a glass of wine to discuss what caught your attention, what was missing, and more.</p> <h2>5. Clothing Swap</h2> <p>Save money and revamp your wardrobe all at once by <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Host-Clothing-Swap-21486470" target="_blank">hosting a clothing swap</a> with your friends. Not only will you get a chance to clean out your closet, but you'll also be able to add new items for free.</p> <h2>6. Travel Party</h2> <p>While you might not be able to take trip this weekend, <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Travel-Themed-Party-Ideas-26889641" target="_blank">you can still get away</a> &mdash; sort of. Plan a night in centered around travel, and you'll feel like you're in vacationland from the comfort of your very own home without spending too much.</p> <h2>7. Painting Party</h2> <p>Turn your <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Host-Art-Party-26218588" target="_blank">living room into an artist's studio</a> and knock some of those must-try projects off your (ever-growing) to-do list.</p> <h2>8. Makeover Party</h2> <p>Invite your girlfriends over for a <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Girls-Night-Ideas-Hair-Makeup-Party-25838151" target="_blank">beauty workshop of sorts</a>, and make a night of it. With help from YouTube tutorials and your friends, you'll go from novice to expert in five minutes or less at hardly any cost.</p> <h2>9. Karaoke at Home</h2> <p>Karaoke is one of those activities that most people enjoy but don't get the chance to do very often. Throw a <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Karaoke-Home-25404939" target="_blank">karaoke party at home</a> by downloading <a href="http://www.karaokeanywhere.net/" target="_blank">Karaoke Anywhere</a>, which 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.</p> <h2>10. Wine Tasting</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Host-Wine-Tasting-Party-25300003" target="_blank">Wine tasting</a> has become a big trend, but you don't need to plan a trip to Napa or the South of France to join in on the fun. Instead, try hosting a wine tasting party in your own home. When you invite your friends, ask them to bring a bottle to contribute. You'll cut costs and not have to worry that you'll run out of drinks.</p> <h2>11. Adult Sleepover</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Throw-Adult-Sleepover-25086035" target="_blank">Slumber parties</a> were a form of entertainment for us back in the day. Not only was it a way to pass a Friday or Saturday night, but it was also a way to bond with our friends. As we get older, the venues we meet our friends in don't give us the same type of quality time a sleepover gives us; bars are way too noisy, and everyone can hear your conversations at a restaurant. Do something different this weekend, and invite your friends to your home for a nostalgic sleepover.</p> <h2>12. Sewing Party</h2> <p>Throw a <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Throw-Sewing-Party-24814139" target="_blank">sewing party</a> with your girlfriends, and use it as an opportunity to mend or alter clothing you've been meaning to deal with.</p> <h2>13. Book Club</h2> <p>Starting a <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Start-Book-Club-19308497" target="_blank">book club</a> may be for you if you find yourself constantly gushing over books with your friends or having heated debates on which character is more swoon-worthy. Getting a bunch of like-minded bookworms together for a book club is a fun and frugal social activity that will enrich your minds and friendships.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite fun and cheap get together activities?</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> If you&#039;re not careful, your at-home shindig can cost as much as going out. Keep your gatherings fun and affordable with these creative activities. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com" style="border:none;"><img width="300" height="95" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u921/POPSUGARrgb.jpg" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/"><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/DIY-Dessert-Tray-28383434">Savvy&nbsp;Chic:&nbsp;Dollar-Store Tiered Tray<br /> </a></li> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Entertain-Small-Apartment-26232872">5 Tips for Entertaining in a Small Space<br /> </a></li> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Make-Chalkboard-Paint-26203305">DIY&nbsp;Chalkboard Paint: Make Your Own Unique Party Supplies</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/popsugar-smart-living">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ideas-for-entertaining-on-a-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-and-cheap-things-to-do-in-seattle">Free and Cheap Things to Do in Seattle</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do">14 Things Good Hosts Never Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-and-romantic-dates-at-home">18 Frugal and Romantic Dates at Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-dinner-party-for-6-feed-em-for-under-20">A Dinner Party for 6: Feed &#039;Em for Under $20</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment affordable entertaining cheap activities entertaining Tue, 14 May 2013 10:36:32 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 974033 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Frugal-but-Classy Appetizers http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-but-classy-appetizers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-frugal-but-classy-appetizers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/appetizers.jpg" alt="appetizers" title="appetizers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Appetizers are one of those things that are so essential for successful entertaining, but can often eat up a big chunk of your entertaining budget. There are few things that make a party as fun as sipping wine and nibbling on a choice morsel while you wander about the room catching up with friends. Great appetizers can also set the tone for a comfortable, delicious dinner by taking the edge off guests&rsquo; hunger and giving them a chance to warm up conversationally.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to spend a lot on appetizers. Good quality seafood, such as smoked salmon, shrimp, or oysters, will run you a pretty penny. The same thing goes for popular charcuterie such as prosciutto, speck, and paté. With just a modicum of prep work, however, you can make several delicious appetizers without spending a lot of money. Add a bowl of olives and a bunch of grapes, along with some inexpensive wine, and turn on the music; and you&rsquo;ve got yourself a party. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-easy-and-festive-cream-cheese-appetizers">Quick, Easy, and Festive Cream Cheese Appetizers</a>)</p> <h2>1. Stuffed Mushrooms</h2> <p>Grab a couple packages of large button or crimini mushrooms at your local supermarket. Clean them and remove the stems, and stuff the caps with herbed goat cheese or Boursin (an herbed soft French cheese). A little bit of cheese goes a long way. Top with breadcrumbs if desired, and pop into a 350⁰F oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm.</p> <h2>2. Fancy Cheese and Crackers</h2> <p>You might want to go a little fancier than Cracker Barrel Cheddar with your cheese and crackers, but great inexpensive cheeses can be found at stores like Trader Joe&rsquo;s or Costco. Try Gouda, Manchego, or an inexpensive Brie (huge wheels can be found at Costco for next to nothing). Place slices of cheese on multigrain crackers or inexpensive water crackers. Top with a thin slice of Granny Smith apple, some chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of honey.</p> <h2>3. Dumplings and Potstickers</h2> <p>Nowadays you can find really good quality Asian dumplings and potstickers at your local supermarket, and they are one of my go-to easy appetizers. I keep a bag stashed in the freezer at all times for an impromptu snack or appetizer for unexpected guests. They are cheap, you can cook them right from frozen, and they take hardly any oversight.&nbsp;</p> <p>Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the frozen potstickers, making sure that each one has contact with the skillet surface. Add &frac14; cup of water, cover, and let the potstickers steam-fry for 6-8 minutes. Uncover skillet, let the rest of the water evaporate, and fry for a minute or two longer to brown the dumplings. Serve hot (keep hot in a low oven) on toothpicks with a simple dipping sauce of rice vinegar and minced ginger.</p> <h2>4. Caprese Salad Skewers</h2> <p>On bamboo skewers, stick cubed mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil. Done! If fresh basil is expensive in your area, substitute with a bit of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-with-basil-21-uses-for-jarred-pesto?wbref=readmore-3">jarred pesto</a>.</p> <h2>5. Mango Salsa</h2> <p>Mangoes can be expensive if they&rsquo;re not in season, but you just need one for this delicious salsa which can be made several hours in advance. Dice up one large ripe mango, 4 medium tomatoes, &frac12; large red onion and mix together. Add minced cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.</p> <h2>6. Rosemary Breadsticks</h2> <p>Grab a package of refrigerated pizza dough at the supermarket (they usually run $1-3). Roll out the dough and cut into strips. Twist each strip to make a stick and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, chopped rosemary, and shredded Parmesan (optional). Bake at 425⁰F for six minutes or until golden. Cool and serve standing up straight in a glass.</p> <h2>7. Bacon-Wrapped Dates</h2> <p>Simple bacon is a cheaper alternative to more expensive cured meats. Dried dates, while not dirt cheap, are definitely affordable. This simple appetizer is super easy but so delicious with its combination of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sweet-and-salty-snacks-you-can-make-at-home">salty and sweet</a>. Cut bacon slices in half crosswise and wrap each half around a large pitted Medjool date. Place seam side down on a baking sheet and bake at 450⁰F for 10-15 minutes until bacon is cooked and crisp. Serve warm on toothpicks.</p> <h2>8. Hummus or Edamame Dip</h2> <p>Everyone loves to gather around a bowl of dip. Hummus is both cheap and delicious, and you can dress it up any way you like. In a food processor, purée two cans of garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained), 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil or tahini, a pinch of salt, and just enough water to help the processor to blend all the ingredients. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, and serve with pita chips. For an Asian twist, substitute edamame (green soybeans) for the garbanzo beans &mdash; buy inexpensive frozen shelled edamame and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute to thaw. Finish with a sprinkle of wasabi powder and serve with rice crisps.</p> <h2>9. Simple Crostini</h2> <p>Grab a baguette, slice it into thin rounds, and toast or grill the rounds. Top with a variety of toppings such as simple tomatoes and basil, mashed avocado and sea salt, sweet tri-color peppers, or browned buttery mushrooms. Drizzle everything with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cooking-oils-for-your-heart-and-wallet">flavorful olive oil</a> and serve.</p> <h2>10. Sliced Sausages</h2> <p>Pick up a selection of good quality bratwurst at the deli and grill them. &nbsp;Using a sharp knife, cut them diagonally into rounds. Arrange them on a platter and serve with an assortment of mustards and sauces. For example, try a whole grain mustard, a Dijon mustard, and a &ldquo;curry&rdquo; ketchup (available at German markets or Cost Plus). Since each guest will only be sampling a few slices, you can keep your costs down.</p> <p><em>Do you have a go-to appetizer that is both frugal and elegant?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-but-classy-appetizers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-moonshine">How to Make Moonshine</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eight-natural-ways-to-make-water-more-flavorful">Eight Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/win-your-next-potluck-with-one-of-these-23-cheap-easy-potluck-dishes">Win Your Next Potluck With One of These 23 Cheap, Easy Potluck Dishes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-surprising-uses-for-empty-beer-and-soda-cans">9 Surprising Uses for Empty Beer and Soda Cans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-halloween-treats-you-can-make-in-an-instant-pot">9 Halloween Treats You Can Make in an Instant Pot</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Food and Drink budget parties entertaining frugal appetizers Mon, 10 Dec 2012 10:48:36 +0000 Camilla Cheung 955894 at http://www.wisebread.com The DOs and DON'Ts of Great Hostess Gifts http://www.wisebread.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-great-hostess-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-dos-and-donts-of-great-hostess-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dinner_party_wine_bottle.jpg" alt="Guests at a dinner party" title="Guests at a dinner party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="132" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you&rsquo;re attending an evening soiree or crashing in someone&rsquo;s pad for a week, you&rsquo;re likely to find yourself in a position of needing a gift for someone you don&rsquo;t know that well this holiday season. Giving a good &ldquo;thanks for hosting&rdquo; gift isn&rsquo;t necessarily about spending a huge wad of cash or about DIY-ing until you drop, but by being thoughtful in your gift selection process. A little host gift etiquette can go a long way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/have-houseguests-how-to-be-the-host-with-the-most">How to Be a Host With the Most</a>)</p> <h3>DO: Learn About Your Host</h3> <p>When choosing an appropriate host gift, you&rsquo;ll need to know a little bit about your recipient. If you already know your host well, you&rsquo;re ahead of the game, but what about parties or get-togethers where the host is a complete stranger? Then it&rsquo;s time to do a little Host Recon, my friend. Ask around. Find people who know your host or hostess, and ask what kinds of small gifts might fit into their lifestyle. Are your hosts voracious readers? Get a gift certificate to a local book store.</p> <h3>DO: Make Sure the Gift Fits the Occasion/Setting</h3> <p>The scale of your gift should be proportional to the amount of effort that your host has expended on you (or saved you from). Just like there&rsquo;s no need to bring an ornate flower arrangement and French champagne to an NFL party, you don&rsquo;t want to skimp on a gift if someone has hosted a fancy party or allowed you to stay as a houseguest.</p> <p>A petite potted rose is a nice gift for a hostess who has spent hours making a prime rib dinner for an at-home party. A potted plant would be cumbersome, however, if the party was being held at a fancy hotel or restaurant. In that case, send or deliver the gift to the host or hostess's home the day after the party. Crashing with someone for a week? You&rsquo;ll want to up the ante &mdash; think fancy soaps and an artisan crafted soap dish, or a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant. Consider what you would have spent on a hotel, and plunk down at least &frac14; of that on your gift.</p> <h3>DO: Consider an Experience-Based Gift</h3> <p>Most of us have spent the recent economic downturn learning how to make do with less stuff, which means that giving items is less fashionable now than giving someone an experience. This can be as simple as a gift certificate to your hosts&rsquo; favorite restaurant or as decadent as two tickets to the opera or whale watching. Just be sure to give gift certificates that offer flexible scheduling, so as not to inconvenience the recipient.</p> <h3>DO: ALWAYS Follow Up With a Thank You Note</h3> <p>Even if you knocked it out of the park with your gift, you should follow up within a week of the event (or your stay) with a quick note showing gratitude for your hosts&rsquo; effort. It&rsquo;s not only polite, but it&rsquo;s also a good networking method, because it makes you more memorable than the other schlubs who came to the party (but who never wrote a thank you note).</p> <h3>DON'T: Assume Booze Is a Safe Bet</h3> <p>A nice bottle of wine is often enough to make your gratitude known to your hosts, but this obviously doesn&rsquo;t hold true for hosts who have religious objections to alcohol or a history of substance abuse (which you would hopefully learn about during your Host Recon).</p> <h3>DON'T: Feel Obliged to DIY</h3> <p>Giving a gift to someone you know well, and want to make your prezzie stand out a bit? If you are not naturally inclined to making things, then there&rsquo;s no shame in a little store-bought something. That said...</p> <h3>DON'T: Be Afraid to DIY</h3> <p>If you already have a <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/edible-gift-idea-cocktail-mixers-132828">cocktail mix</a>, <a href="http://www.nwedible.com/2011/03/good-from-garden-rosemary-salt-rubbed.html">salt rub</a>, <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/271591/quick-breads-easy-presents?backto=true&amp;backtourl=/photogallery/hostess-gift-ideas#slide_1">cake-in-a-jar</a>, cookie platter, or handmade candle recipe down pat, then by all means, give your host a handmade gift. It&rsquo;s a sweet gesture, and most hosts will be flattered. Check out Myscha&rsquo;s article on holiday-themed <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-hostess-gift-ideas-for-the-holiday-season">foodie gifting goodness</a> inspiration.</p> <h3>DON'T: Be Offended by Potential Regifting</h3> <p>Giving a regiftable present is actually a good thing, because it saves your host the trouble of finding an appropriate gift the next time he or she is heading off to a cocktail party. This isn&rsquo;t to say that you should aim to give such hideous gifts that your host can&rsquo;t help but part with it immediately, but if your host is more of an acquaintance than a friend, avoid overly personalized presents.</p> <p>I sometimes include a little note with a hostess gift that says something like, &ldquo;Feel free to regift; my feelings won&rsquo;t be hurt!&rdquo; It takes the pressure of the host to find another place to store yet another knickknack or doodad, and might make their holiday party attendance a little easier. Similarly, if you receive a gift that was obviously <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">regifted</a>, be gracious. If you hate it, you can always donate it to charity or pass it along to someone else.</p> <p><em>Are you an expert gift-giver? What tips do you have for ensuring that your holiday hosts feel appreciated?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-great-hostess-gifts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-couponing-5-reasons-why-i-ll-pass">Extreme Couponing? 5 Reasons Why I’ll Pass.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-make-money-on-halloween">15 Ways to Make Money on Halloween</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-choose-traditional-books-over-e-books">5 Reasons to Choose Traditional Books Over E-Books</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-never-pay-full-price-for">25 Things to Never Pay Full Price For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Shopping Christmas party ideas entertaining hostess gift Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:24:24 +0000 Andrea Karim 825734 at http://www.wisebread.com Quick, Easy, and Festive Cream Cheese Appetizers http://www.wisebread.com/quick-easy-and-festive-cream-cheese-appetizers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/quick-easy-and-festive-cream-cheese-appetizers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/party_food.jpg" alt="People enjoying food at a party" title="People enjoying food at a party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you need a party snack or appetizer really quickly? You can combine a few items from your pantry and refrigerator with cream cheese for an impromptu party at your home. Or, if you are heading to someone else's place but haven&rsquo;t had time to prepare anything, you can make a short trip to the grocery store or your local market and pick up a few items on the way and assemble the dish when you arrive. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests">Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests</a>)</p> <p>Try these no-bake appetizers that all follow this simple formula:</p> <ul> <li>Unwrap and place slab of cream cheese on a serving plate.</li> <li>Pour or spread a special ingredient on top.&nbsp;</li> <li>Decorate with colorful add-ons (like spices or candy sprinkles) if desired.</li> <li>Serve with your choice of accompaniment: wheat crackers, celery sticks, tortilla chips, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-topping-ideas-for-rice-cakes">rice cakes</a>, etc.</li> </ul> <h3>Sun-Dried Tomatoes</h3> <p>Buy chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. Cover cream cheese with tomatoes. For a festive look, sprinkle with dill. Serve with wheat crackers.</p> <h3>Pesto Sauce</h3> <p>Use your own homemade <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pesto-sauce/">pesto sauce</a> or pick up sauce in the produce area (jarred) or dairy case (container). Pour over cream cheese. Serve with vegetable crackers or crisps.</p> <h3>Crushed Pineapple</h3> <p>Pick up a can of crushed pineapple in the canned goods aisle, or buy fresh pineapple and chop into smaller pieces yourself. Drain liquid, saving pineapple juice for a holiday punch or a cup of brewed tea. Pour pineapple over cream cheese. Serve with rice cakes.</p> <h3>Dried Cranberries</h3> <p>Find dried cranberries (aka craisins), or pick your favorite bite-sized dried fruit. Gently press cranberries on cream cheese. Garnish with cinnamon. Serve with rice cakes.</p> <h3>Pepper Jelly</h3> <p>Get red pepper or green pepper jelly in the condiments section of the grocery store. Pour over cream cheese, either generously or sparsely depending on the hotness of the jelly and your preferences. Serve with plain or wheat crackers.</p> <h3>Tapenade</h3> <p>Get your favorite kind of tapenade. Spread tapenade on cream cheese. Serve with crackers or crisps (try plain versions to make sure that the taste of the tapenade is not overpowered by flavored accompaniments).</p> <h3>Chopped Ginger</h3> <p>Grab a jar of chopped ginger. Spread sparingly over cream cheese. Shake red or green sugar sprinkles over the ginger to liven the look of the appetizer. Serve with pita chips. Use extra ginger in salad dressings or stir-fry dishes.</p> <h3>Horseradish</h3> <p>Get prepared horseradish from the produce or condiments section. Spread a thin layer over cream cheese; top with lemon peel for added texture and flavor. Serve with vegetable crackers.</p> <h3>Peanut Butter&nbsp;</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/homemade-peanut-butter-recipe">Peanut butter</a> is a staple in my house, so I can easily grab a jar from my pantry to make this dish. Spread peanut butter over cream cheese. Serve with graham crackers or vanilla wafers for a kid-friendly appetizer.</p> <h3>Fruit Spread</h3> <p>Grab fruit jam, jelly, etc. Dot fruit spread on cream cheese. Serve with graham crackers.</p> <h3>Honey</h3> <p>Drizzle honey over cream cheese; sprinkle with chopped pecans or walnuts. Serve on crackers or rice cakes.</p> <h3>Salsa&nbsp;</h3> <p>Pick up a jar of your favorite salsa and spread over cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips or wraps.</p> <h3>Guacamole</h3> <p>Make some <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/guacamole/detail.aspx">guacamole</a>, or buy a freshly prepared version. Pour and spread over cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.</p> <h3>Hot Sauce</h3> <p>For a fast dish, pour your favorite hot sauce, like Texas Pete's Chipotle Hot Sauce, over cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Pimiento Cheese</h3> <p>Stretch the cost of freshly made pimiento cheese (produced at home using this <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/pimiento-cheese-recipe3/index.html">cheddar-based recipe</a> or acquired from your local market) by spreading over cream cheese. Serve with pita chips or celery sticks.</p> <h3>Cranberry Sauce</h3> <p>Cranberry sauce seems to be plentiful during the holiday season, so you can find some in displays at the grocery store or on the shelf in the canned fruit section, or pull out a <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cranberry-sauce/">homemade batch</a> from the refrigerator. Stir and pour over cream cheese. Serve with crackers.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite fast-to-make appetizer?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-easy-and-festive-cream-cheese-appetizers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-but-classy-appetizers">10 Frugal-but-Classy Appetizers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-the-holiday-season-entertaining-and-being-entertained-on-a-budget">Surviving the Holiday Season: Entertaining (and Being Entertained) on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party">How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-meal-prep-subscription-boxes-worth-it">Are Meal Prep Subscription Boxes Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink appetizer cream cheese entertaining Mon, 05 Dec 2011 10:48:11 +0000 Julie Rains 802969 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dinner_party.jpg" alt="Women at a dinner party" title="Women at a dinner party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="132" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&rsquo;m excited to announce that we are fast approaching one of my favorite times of year. No, not Thanksgiving, or the holiday season, or even the New Year. No, it&rsquo;s none of those things &mdash; it&rsquo;s Dinner Party Season! I love dinner parties because they provide a fabulous excuse to dress up, decorate, and catch up. I love that they&rsquo;re different from the standard weekend schedule, which generally involves small gatherings or loud bars. I also love that they give me a reason to not hibernate during the cold winter months. With all these reasons to love dinner parties, what&rsquo;s to stop you from throwing one every weekend? Oh, right &mdash; feeding all those people can get <em>expensive</em>. Don&rsquo;t let that ruin your fun, though! Instead, try these tricks for throwing your very own fabulous-yet-frugal dinner party. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/class-without-tons-of-cash-frugal-cocktail-party-ideas">Frugal Cocktail&nbsp;Party Ideas</a>)</p> <h2>Themes</h2> <p>People love theme parties because they add to the feeling that this is not just an everyday occasion. They also allow your party to take on aesthetically appealing flair without having to spend a lot of dough (unless, of course, your theme is opulence...maybe you should avoid that one). If you don&rsquo;t have a specific theme already in mind, try picking one based on the party&rsquo;s main dish. Twice-baked potatoes might suggest a harvest or fall theme, for example, while pulled pork tacos or chicken fajitas would go nicely with a Mexican theme. Notice that those main dishes are ones that fit squarely within a frugal budget, which leads me to my next section...</p> <h2>Main Dishes</h2> <p>In order to get the most bang for your buck when serving a big group, choose a main dish that can be made inexpensively. If you know, for example, that broiler chickens are steeply discounted at least once a month, pick one or two up to make a great <a href="http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/roast-chicken-with-rosemary/detail.aspx">rosemary roast chicken</a>. Or go for a main dish with a protein that&rsquo;s not meat. Try something like the <a href="http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/ultimate-twice-baked-potatoes/detail.aspx">twice-baked potatoes</a> mentioned above. Of course, you probably don&rsquo;t want to feed your guests ramen noodles in the name of frugality, although <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ramen-recipes-to-write-home-about">ramen noodles do have their place</a>. Spend money where it counts by adding one or two upgraded ingredients to your main course, like gruyere cheese for your twice-baked potatoes or a béchamel sauce (white, milk-based sauce) for a <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/baked-rigatoni-with-bechamel-sauce-recipe2/index.html">pasta dish</a>.</p> <h2>Appetizers</h2> <p>When planning dinner party appetizers, a few simple rules will take you a long way: stick with your theme, keep it simple, and, like with your main dish, throw in some luxury. Sticking with a chosen theme will keep your appetizers from being all over the board and will save you time by narrowing down possibilities right off the bat. Keep the appetizers you do choose simple, in terms of number served, number of ingredients per appetizer, and how you choose to serve the appetizers. The caterer&rsquo;s rule of thumb is that, for a dinner party of 8-10 guests, three appetizer options are appropriate, with about 10-12 bite-size portions per person. Even though you&rsquo;re keeping it simple and using as few ingredients as possible per appetizer, add some extravagance to your starters by using a few more expensive ingredients sparingly. For example, this is a great place to use <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-seafood-appetizers-to-impress-your-guests">seafood</a>, which is generally a more expensive protein.</p> <h2>Drinks</h2> <p>To keep you dinner party more on the frugal side, consider making it BYOB. Like potluck dinners, BYOB dinners work because they satisfy a guest&rsquo;s desire to contribute while satisfying your need to be economical. If you don&rsquo;t want to ask guests to bring their own drinks, consider serving one signature drink (like <a href="http://therecipegirl.blogspot.com/2008/02/red-wine-sangria-recipe.html">red wine sangria</a> for a tapas party or <a href="http://thatssomichelle.blogspot.com/2011/10/hot-buttered-apple-cider-rum.html">buttered apple cider rum</a> for a holiday party). This is always less expensive than offering a full bar. Or, if you&rsquo;re a real wine-lover like myself, head on over to your local Trader Joe&rsquo;s for a great, cheap wine pairing. I once bought an entire case of completely respectable and drinkable white wine for less than $60 for a party. If you&rsquo;re not lucky enough to live close to a Trader Joe&rsquo;s, or you live in a state that doesn&rsquo;t sell liquor in grocery stores (I&rsquo;m talking to you, Pennsylvania), try finding a general type of wine to complement your main dish at <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/beverages/food-wine-pairing-guide-00000000008252/index.html">Real Simple&rsquo;s wine pairing guide</a>, then do some online research to find inexpensive yet enjoyable labels of that variety.</p> <h2>Invites</h2> <p>Save money on invites by foregoing the old-fashioned mailed kind in favor of electronic ones. You could create a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/">Facebook Event</a>, or try one of the many free websites like <a href="http://www.punchbowl.com/digital-invitations?gclid=CIrR7LS5tqwCFcjb4Aod9D_DHg">Punchbowl</a>, <a href="http://www.smilebox.com/invitations.html">Smilebox</a>, or <a href="http://new.evite.com/#home">Evite</a>. Of course, if you&rsquo;re having an impromptu dinner party, word-of-mouth and phone calls may be all you need.</p> <h2>Presentation</h2> <p>Even <a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/sassy-water-368368">water can look fancy</a> with sliced fruit or a few other ingredients in it. Don&rsquo;t forget the old rule that we eat with our eyes first. To that end, consider how to present each course in a creative way (bonus points if you can tie the presentation into your theme as in, for example, serving a Chinese dish in cardboard take-out boxes). Other examples include making ice cubes infused with fruit or herbs, serving appetizers or desserts in shot glasses, dishing up a soup course in a bread bowl or giant mug, and adding garnishes where necessary. But wait, aren&rsquo;t these extra serving paraphernalia going to cost me, you ask? Why, so glad you asked! This brings me to my next point...</p> <h2>Using What You&rsquo;ve Got</h2> <p>Don&rsquo;t buy new serving dishes; use things you already have around the house to serve up food in creative new ways. For example, I have some martini glasses that have yet to be used (I love martinis; I just don&rsquo;t drink them at home). I could put those to work as adorable appetizer vessels, or as innovative serving containers for, say, chocolate mousse. My big glass hurricane, once it&rsquo;s washed out, would be a great way to serve a <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/double-chocolate-mocha-trifle/detail.aspx">dessert trifle</a> or, alternatively, it could be filled with just about anything to make a centerpiece to match the party&rsquo;s theme.</p> <h2>Getting the Group Involved</h2> <p>Of course, the most frugal (yet still fun) way to throw a dinner party is to go potluck. The upside to this one is that people generally feel compelled to bring something to a party anyway &mdash; this just formalizes the process. Also, the meal is not only cheaper for the host; it&rsquo;s also usually less expensive for each guest to bring a dish than to make dinner for themselves at home. I would suggest sticking with a theme for your potluck, so you don&rsquo;t end up with, say, a seaweed salad appetizer and a lasagna entrée (although I love both seaweed salad and lasagna, I think it&rsquo;s a little incongruous to mix the two in one sitting). I would also assign people specific courses (appetizer, salad, sides) so you don&rsquo;t end up with a dinner entirely composed of shrimp cocktail appetizers.</p> <p>Progressive dinner parties are a variation on potlucks; however, not only does each guest provide a dish, but they also provide the venue &mdash; their own home. At a progressive dinner party, each guest agrees to provide one stage of the meal (appetizer, main course, dessert) and to play host for their particular course. One of the major benefits of a progressive dinner party is, of course, that the cost of providing one course of a meal is a lot less than providing the entire meal. It&rsquo;s also nice to have a change of scenery, too, and progressive dinner parties spread clean-up duties over a number of households. Of course, a progressive dinner party works best when guests live relatively close to one another.</p> <h2>Games</h2> <p>Throwing a frugal, fabulous dinner party entails more than food and drink. Keep your guests entertained with some games, too. I&rsquo;m not suggesting you pull out the old Twister mat (although you can if you&rsquo;re so inclined), but games are a great way to bond with old friends and get to know new ones too. Games are also easily had for free; if you don&rsquo;t have one of the classics, chances are, one of your guests will. To get an idea of which games are especially suited for dinner parties, check out this list of the <a href="http://www.thedailymeal.com/11-best-games-dinner-parties">top dinner party games</a>, or try my personal favorite, <a href="http://www.target.com/p/Classic-Game-Collection-Mexican-Train-Dominoes/-/A-12858403#?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&amp;AFID=Google_PLA_df&amp;LNM=%7C12858403&amp;CPNG=NoCPNG&amp;ci_sku=12858403&amp;ci_gpa=pla&amp;ci_kw=">Mexican Train dominoes</a> (yes, my friends think I&rsquo;m 80 years old for loving this game, but I promise you, they love playing it).</p> <p><em>Have ideas that aren&rsquo;t included here? Share them in the comments! </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/janey-osterlind">Janey Osterlind</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-the-holiday-season-entertaining-and-being-entertained-on-a-budget">Surviving the Holiday Season: Entertaining (and Being Entertained) on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-cheap-or-free-ways-to-make-the-most-of-the-weekend">40+ Cheap or Free Ways to Make the Most of the Weekend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-an-awesome-frugal-movie-night">How to Host an Awesome Frugal Movie Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do">14 Things Good Hosts Never Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-dinner-party-for-6-feed-em-for-under-20">A Dinner Party for 6: Feed &#039;Em for Under $20</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Food and Drink Lifestyle dinner parties entertaining frugal food weekend Wed, 23 Nov 2011 11:24:48 +0000 Janey Osterlind 795610 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Tips for Hosting Holiday Houseguests http://www.wisebread.com/15-tips-for-hosting-holiday-houseguests <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-tips-for-hosting-holiday-houseguests" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_christmas.jpg" alt="Family during the holidays" title="Family during the holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you hosting a holiday this winter? Are friends and family flying in from out-of-town, ready to gobble down your holiday turkey, use all your guest-room towels, and partake of your hospitality? Make your home cozy and comfortable for guests and keep celebrations going smoothly by following these easy tips and tricks for holiday hosting. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-simple-rules-of-excellent-houseguest-etiquette">11 Simple Rules of Excellent Houseguest Etiquette</a>)</p> <h3>1. Put Out Throw Blankets</h3> <p>Nothing&rsquo;s cozier on a cold winter night than a few wooly throw blankets on the living room sofa. IKEA is a great source for inexpensive fluffy blankets. Have them on hand for when the kids get tired and need a nap, or for your Aunt Bertha&rsquo;s cold feet.</p> <h3>2. Stock Slippers</h3> <p>Speaking of cold feet, one of my favorite hosting tips is to have a variety of warm slippers in a basket by the door. You can buy slippers for cheap at Walmart or Target. Since everyone is going to be taking off their snowy boots, having a cozy alternative in which to walk around the house is a thoughtful touch.</p> <h3>3. Embrace Indirect Lighting</h3> <p>Bring on the lamps &mdash; the warm glow they cast says &ldquo;holiday&rdquo; much better than glaring overhead lights. Dim them to an attractive yellow glow, allowing candles, fireplaces, and other sources of lighting to shine.</p> <h3>4. Provide Warm Drinks</h3> <p>Cut down on the time you&rsquo;re serving your guests and make them feel more at home by having a variety of hot drinks available on the kitchen counter. Packets of hot chocolate and tea and a carafe of hot coffee are all that&rsquo;s needed. For a special holiday treat, have a large pot of mulled wine simmering in the slow cooker, with cups nearby so guests can serve themselves.</p> <h3>5. Put a Wreath on the Door</h3> <p>I don&rsquo;t know what it is about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homemade-christmas-wreath-ideas-with-style">front-door wreaths</a>, but to me, they make a home so much more welcoming. The same goes for fall flowers or poinsettias set on the front stoop. Learn how to make your own <a href="http://www.designsponge.com/2011/11/outside-in-bittersweet-and-rosehip-wreath.html">autumnal wreath</a> at Design*Sponge.</p> <h3>6. Utilize Aromatherapy</h3> <p>In the winter, I love the smells of gingerbread and pumpkin pie. If you&rsquo;re not a baker, scented candles in warm winter scents like cinnamon, cranberry, and pumpkin spice really set the tone for winter celebrations.</p> <h3>7. Prepare Guest Necessities</h3> <p>Make sure guests have easy access to all the necessities &mdash; extra towels, bottles of water, soap, and shampoo. If you have many guests (a common occurrence over the winter holidays), put towels in a big basket by the bathroom door so guests can help themselves.</p> <h3>8. Set Out Games</h3> <p>Help children and the young-at-heart to feel right at home by setting out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fun-family-friendly-games-for-your-holiday-party">board games</a> on a low table in the living room. Traditional games like Chinese checkers and backgammon are easy to play, and more modern games like Settlers of Catan, Cranium, and Ticket to Ride will draw board-game enthusiasts.</p> <h3>9. Play Soft Music</h3> <p>Have soft music playing in the background to set a festive mood &mdash; whether that&rsquo;s holiday classics or Coldplay&rsquo;s latest album.</p> <h3>10. Keep Toilet Paper Stocked</h3> <p>Keep fresh rolls of toilet paper visible and within easy reach, so guests have no excuse to go rummaging through your bathroom cabinets.</p> <h3>11. Have Midnight Snacks Around</h3> <p>As I recently had occasion to learn, some guests (like pregnant women) are perpetually ravenous and need sustenance at all hours of the day and night. For hungry guests on the prowl late at night, keep a stash of cookies and snacks available on the kitchen counter for guests to help themselves. They don&rsquo;t have to be homemade; use store-bought snacks for greater convenience.</p> <h3>12. Stock Family Friendly Movies</h3> <p>For those times when guests need some down time, keep an assortment of classic family friendly DVDs available that kids and adults will enjoy.</p> <h3>13. Enlist Help</h3> <p>Your guests don&rsquo;t expect you to be their slave, so enlist their help to clear dishes, prepare food, and set the table. Getting everyone involved evokes togetherness and holiday spirit, and prevents you from going crazy. Delegate!</p> <h3>14. Keep Meals Simple</h3> <p>You&rsquo;re already providing a place to stay for your houseguests, so don&rsquo;t feel that you need to be Martha Stewart when it comes to the menu. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-quick-homemade-breakfasts">Breakfast</a> can be store-bought croissants and orange juice, and lunch can be a self-serve buffet of deli meats and fruit. Suggest going out or ordering in (and splitting the bill) to save yourself money and time. If you&rsquo;re hosting big family meals like Christmas or New Year&rsquo;s, prepare the main course yourself and delegate side dishes to other family members.</p> <h3>15. Don&rsquo;t Stress the Small Stuff</h3> <p>So your centerpiece is looking a bit lopsided? Relax! Your guests won&rsquo;t notice little details and certainly won&rsquo;t be judging you on not being the perfect host. Toilet overflowing and sending sewage-scented water down through the living room ceiling? Now that might merit a minor freak-out.</p> <p><em>Do you have any useful tips and tricks for hosting houseguests this winter?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-tips-for-hosting-holiday-houseguests">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surviving-the-holiday-season-entertaining-and-being-entertained-on-a-budget">Surviving the Holiday Season: Entertaining (and Being Entertained) on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-simple-rules-of-excellent-houseguest-etiquette">11 Simple Rules of Excellent Houseguest Etiquette</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-good-hosts-never-do">14 Things Good Hosts Never Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free">20 Ways to Entertain Your Kids for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-a-fabulous-and-frugal-dinner-party">How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle entertaining holiday guests houseguests Wed, 16 Nov 2011 11:00:45 +0000 Camilla Cheung 787804 at http://www.wisebread.com