Don’t Spend the Farm on Entertainment

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Whether you choose to entertain inside your home or out, there is no reason to exceed your budget. There are many wonderful ways to enjoy good entertainment that don’t require you spending a fortune. Even a formal dinner party can be managed with aplomb and a limited amount of cash, as I’m sure you know. Why spend more and not get more?

Entertaining for the Holidays

With the holidays always around the corner, we are all bracing for additional expenses, but truly traditional foods just aren’t that expensive if you know how to shop. For example, when it’s close to Thanksgiving time:

  • Turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas are on sale, so buy two.
  • Find a store that offers a free turkey when you purchase a certain amount of groceries, and cut that expense completely.
  • Make your own side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy or green beans. They are cheaper and tastier than any you would find at the store.
  • Stick to generic products wherever possible and spend your money on the wine if you must.

Another wonderful and inexpensive way to entertain is to arrange a pot luck and gift swap. Randomly hand out names so everyone will get a gift, set a limit on what each person spends. Then, have everyone drop in one afternoon a couple of weeks before the big day and bring a dish as well. No one spends too much but a great afternoon is guaranteed. All you have to do is prepare paper goods and mull some cider.

Out on the Town

If you find yourself in the position of having to entertain out, plan ahead. With so many companies arranging holiday parties, you may need to reserve several weeks in advance. Couple simple points to remember:

  • Lunch is always cheaper than dinner.
  • Finger foods are less expensive than a sit down meal.
  • If you plan to have a bar, make it a pay bar or give a certain number of tickets to each attendee and let them pay beyond that.

Sometimes the best restaurants are the hidden gems. They will be thrilled to have your business and will work on price with you, unlike bigger, well established restaurants. If you know of such a prize, call them well in advance and see what you can work out. If you guarantee a certain number of people and pay beforehand, the savings are substantial.

Other Entertainment Tips

Even if you are just planning on your own entertainment, you can cut costs with some forethought.

  • Rather than renting movies, get them from the public library free.
  • Don’t buy microwave popcorn but make your own. It is healthier and actually more convenient.
  • If you must go to the movies, matinees are cheaper than evening shows, the same holds true of the theater or ballet, and dress rehearsals are often watchable for even less. Many places, like a wholesale warehouse, sell movie tickets for at a discounted price. Don’t forget those too.
  • There is no time that isn’t good for potluck. Invite your friends, pull out some good board games and make an evening of it. The conversation and laughter will more than make up for a limited budget, and the opportunity to get together with people you truly enjoy makes an evening memorable.

Remember, it isn’t the price tag that makes entertaining great, it is the people.

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  • basicmoneytips says:

    There are some good points in this article. Generally speaking, planning ahead can also serve you well. There are countless other points to add to this article. For example, you can buy summer clothes in the Fall much more cheaply because stores are reducing the inventory. The list goes on.

    I do not worry about movies too much, with Redbox booths everywhere, $1 is reasonable for a movie.

    I like the article however, many nice points that can help us save money. That is never a bad thing.

    • Opal says:

      Let me add my vote to checking out movies at the library. Redbox only carries the latest releases and they’re due back the next day. Last year we had a Lord of the Rings marathon. All checked out from the library for a week. Older movies and TV shows that may be better choices for great-grandparents are available at the library. We checked out the first season of Andy Griffith recently for my grandmother’s visit.

  • James Ward says:

    You can also save your entertaining dollars by checking out DVDs from your local library – No charge unless, of course, you return it back to the library late.

  • Cd phi says:

    Yes, finances can get so carried away near holiday seasons and vacations. It’s hard to keep a budget in mind but it’s actually for the better because once that time passes, your wallet won’t be depleted of its funds.

  • bhleigh says:

    My family would have large gatherings for the holidays and the food bills would get outrageous to prepare that big holiday dinner. A simple trick is to have a small buffet of small dishes that people can snack all day. We would make Fruit Soup (I don’t know what its really called but it had pears, peaches, apples, cider for broth, and mulling spices) and anytime you were hungry during the day you would get a bowl. Along with the fruit soup, my mother would make swedish meatballs from Costco, cheese & pepperoni crackers, and mozzarella & tomato slices. By the time it came to eat the big meal, most people were half full and so my mother didn’t have to make as much. The best part is that these four simple side dishes cost very little (about $50) and fed people for the entire day.

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