5 Ways to Entertain Your Guests for £0

A shrinking budget does not necessarily mean your entertaining days are over. In this financial climate, low-budget party ideas are even more valuable and helpful for hosts or hostesses in need of top entertainment at a low cost. Most of us can no longer justify nor afford top-of-the-line parties costing more pounds than are monthly groceries—it is just not realistic for the average person. Here are 5 ways to entertain guests with no cost out of your pocket.

1: Bring Your Own Beverages

Getting together with family and friends is commonly around food. That’s just how it is today. Eating and drinking has become a social thing; but, that does not mean the host or hostess must supply the food and drink every time. When sending out your invitations, include a small note at the bottom requesting your guest bring their own beverage of choice. This puts the cost in their lap letting them spend what they can afford. If they want to drink water, you probably have that covered—set out some nice glasses, freeze some water for ice and put some good o’le fashion tap water in a pitcher. No one will care come party time. They will be too busy chatting with others and socializing. For those wanting a stronger beverage, allowing them to bring their own also ensures that they can enjoy their favourite all night long. You might suggest checking out some online wine shops that offer discount codes, like From VineyardsDirect, Giordano Wines and Majestic wine—and plenty others under the Wine & Champagne category.

2: Let’s Share a Dish

Similar to the tip above, there is nothing wrong with making your event more of a “potluck” style. If you do not like the sound of “potluck,” then simply note in the invite a request for each guest to bring a dish to share. As the hosting party, it would not be a bad idea to connect with guests that RSVP yes to coordinate the dishes so that you do not end up with 5 dishes of mac ‘n cheese but no main dish. You will find, though, that most guests are willing and prepared to help out with the event. When they ask what they can do, take them up on the offer and ask them to bring something. If it is a less formal event, there is no harm in asking your neighbour to bring the buns or a couple bags of chips. It all adds up with the important part being that it does not all come out of your budget.

3: Use Your Own Music

A DJ or band is not a pre-requisite to a fantastic party. Although nice, you can enjoy the sounds of music in the background without this hefty cost. Pick out a few of your favourite CDs and play them with a CD player, or simply have the radio playing throughout the party. Another increasingly popular choice among hosts is to use your laptop to create a Playlist with an online music library. This DIY entertainment gives the effect of a DJ’s specially selected music but without the cost. This style of party entertainment is also fun for guests who want to review the Playlist and pick out some of their favourite tunes to hear.

4: Create Your Own Invitations – Offline or Online

Invites can easily be created with your own computer using word processing or publishing software. You can also order invites online taking advantage of online discounts from card shops like Hallmark and VistaPrint, among many others that can be found in the Greeting Cards category.

To avoid the cost of stamps, you could also use websites to send invites via email from which guests can RSVP directly. These are great ways to monitor your guest list and coordinate dishes since you can easily communicate with those attending throughout the invite website or direct email. There are many design options available; so cute and classy invites certainly does not need to go to the wayside when entertaining on a budget.

5: Decorating with Less

Finally, we cannot discuss entertaining without talking about the decorating. When decorating on a budget, aim for less. In fact, any party should heed to the “less is more” concept as too many flowers and streamers can sometimes lean toward tacky. This is especially true if your party is at your home. Use what you have, if anything, and just keep it simple.

The recent blog “Celebrate New Year’s in Style but Frugally” offers some additional tips on entertaining on a budget, tips which can be used for New Year celebrations and anytime of the year.

Cheap Gifts That Will Make Your Better Half Melt this Winter

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and birthdays are all about making your special someone feel just that—special. Although the words “I love you” are priceless, most like to express their feelings occasionally through gifts and presents. It is a natural desire but can be challenging when the purse strings are tighter than the heart strings. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap gifts you can give your partner that will make them melt just the same if not more than hefty priced gifts. Here are some cheap gifts ideas to express your feelings and make your better half melt this winter.
Gifts for Her

Flowers, chocolates and jewellery are easy top picks for the special woman in your life but the cost of these popular gifts can add up quickly. A dozen roses and a box of chocolates could quickly put you over £50.00.  Considering the flowers die and the chocolates are gone almost as quickly makes the money spent seem all that much greater. And, there are alternatives to pricey jewellery that can send just as strong of a message, if not more. Consider of the following ideas that may take some time and effort but that which is well worth it in the end:

  • Poem written by you
  • Framed photo of you both together
  • Romantic dinner prepared by you
  • Handmade card and “memories” box
  • Tickets to a local symphony or play for a night-out
  • Gift certificate to a nail salon
  • A pre-arranged night out to her favourite place
  • Homemade candy
  • Photo collage of the family
  • A “Special Day Off” Coupon
  • A night out with her friends for dinner and a movie

Gifts for Him

The same concept can be applied for that special man in your life also. Gifts that will mean the world to a man do not have to cost a bundle. Think about how many pricey ties and shirts you have bought that are never worn. Here are some ideas for cheap gifts that may go further than some of the more traditional gifts.

  • A photo collage of his buddies
  • A framed photo of his “biggest catch” (for the fishers out there)
  • Breakfast in bed (with you of course!)
  • Prepare a special meal and invite his buddies over for a  night in of sports watching
  • Hire a local handyman to help with some overdue projects
  • Subscription to his favourite magazine
  • Gift certificate to his favourite hobby store or sports store
  • A day out golfing or fishing (or his sport of choice)

If none of these gifts for him or her ideas will work, the internet is a great place to find many other cheap gift ideas for your partner. Gift giving is not about how much you spent, or at least it shouldn’t be. Get back to the core of giving and go with the gifts that carry the largest meaning, not the biggest price tag. Also, keep in mind that planning in advance is a great way to get that expensive gift you have wanted to buy for your partner but at a far more reasonable price. Voucher codes, online promotions and money saving deals are so readily available today. Many times, it is just about timing. Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for your gift. You could be missing out on a great deal and a terrific opportunity to show your loved one how much you care but without spending a fortune.

Light up Your Christmas Tree with Inexpensive Handmade Decorations

You do not need to spend a lot to enjoy a beautiful Christmas tree that radiates the holiday spirit. Ornaments and tree decorations are one aspect of the holidays that are endless in possibilities and can be enjoyed by all. Ornaments come in so many different colours, shapes and sizes to match your décor theme, budget and holiday joy. Handmade decorations are one of the best ways to add that special touch to your Christmas tree to bring out your family’s style and personality. Here are some ideas for cheap Christmas decorations for your tree and home to help you get started.

Handmade Ornaments and Decorations

A little creativity, a walk outside and quick look in your cupboards may be all you need to decorate your tree and home. Pinecones, popcorn, paper and dried cranberries can easily be transformed into garland and ornaments. In fact, pinecones are one of the more popular holiday crafts enjoyed among kids and adults alike. You can add a festive touch to a pinecone with some gold or silver paint, sparkles or glitter. String it up with a ribbon to hang it from the tree, or place it in a basket for a beautiful decoration piece for any room. Pinecone ornaments are even sold in the stores but may be more fun and less costly to just make them at home with your loved ones.

Making garland out of colourful paper such as construction paper or old wrapping paper is another fun way to decorate the home with inexpensive Christmas decorations. Also consider stringing dried popcorn or cranberries (or both) to create a beautiful, natural-inspired garland for the tree, stairwell or walls. Stringing popcorn can actually be quite fun. (Just make sure you have enough fresh popcorn to eat!)

Homemade Salt-Dough Decorations

Flour, salt and water—these are all you need to make your own salt dough ornaments. Combine one cup each of flour and salt with a half cup of water, and knead until smooth. You can roll this dough flat and make different Christmas shapes with cookie cutters, or just roll into balls for a round-shaped ornament. Once you have all of the shapes formed, place a paperclip into the top of each shape. This dough will dry solid hard in 2-3 days (thicker ornaments need more time to dry completely). Once dry, string a ribbon through the paperclip and paint with acrylics and spray with a sealant so the ornament will last for years to come. Of course, you can also decorate the ornaments with glitter and sprinkles. These ornaments are a fantastic way to decorate for inexpensive Christmas trees that are rich in memories and fun.

Used & Discount Decorations

Finally, never underestimate the possible finds at consignment shops and thrift stores. People collect decorations throughout the years with many eventually ridding of it at thrift stores, either to downsize or make room for new decorations. Turn their extras into your treasures at a discount price. It is not uncommon to find a huge collection of ornaments, centrepieces and other holiday decorations. Also, be sure to open your mind to hand-me-downs from family and friends who have decorations and ornaments they are no longer using.

If you prefer new decorations, a little advanced planning can save you tons by shopping the after-holiday sales on decorations. This is a great way to enjoy costly and more lavish decorations at a fraction of the price, sometimes saving 75-90%. Actually, even if you do find some great used decorations, the after-holiday sales are definitely worth checking out when it comes to decorations for the following year. Stores are usually over-stocked and want to clear out the shelves in preparation for the next holiday—a move that can be to the shopper’s benefit.