The Sneakiest Tricks To Holiday Entertaining On A Dime

There's no doubt about it; we want to be merry, bright, and in the spirit of the season, but going broke is not on our wish lists. Luckily, Santa's not the only one with a few tricks up his sleeve. We, too, have a couple surprising ways to create our own ooh, aah moments that can be done on a dime. To help formulate some of these sneaky entertaining how-tos, we enlisted the help of a few experts behind design blogs that really know how to make an lasting impression. Hey, you may not all have Martha Stewart's entertaining skills or bank account, but that doesn't mean you can't fake it to the top.
holiday-2Bring The Outdoors In
"There's nothing better to decorate with for the holidays than fresh greenery, and it can be done with little or no money at all," Ally from From The Right Bank tells us. Use what your mamma (nature) gave ya and make use of winter branches, loose sprigs, and even scraps from the Christmas tree to recreate createpieces and other home adornments. "A big bunch of bare branches in a large pot can go on the floor, and shorter greenery in a low vase is perfect for a dining-table centerpiece. Smaller stems in bottles can be scattered throughout the house for added pops of green."
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Touches Of Sparkle
It's no secret that we're all about the sparkle this season. Give your home the same twinkle treatment for less. Kate Pruitt of Design Sponge gave us a few tips on how to get those elegant essences: "To save tons of money and put on an equally beautiful affair, opt for a rustic, organic style with touches of sparkle and luxury," Kate says. "Gold charms from a bead store make elegant table decor — scatter a few on the table, and tie one to each cotton napkin with a bit of baker's twine." In addition, we love Kate's cute how-to for revamping your holiday stemware. "Dress up cheap glasses with a gold-leaf for festive drinkware. With a little creative thinking, you can outfit your home for a beautiful, elegant fête for next to nothing."
Use Unexpectedly
Perhaps you won't always have a bunch of matching, tiny serving bowls laying around to present a yummy treat to your guests, but this is the time to be resourceful. Keep the cardboard boxes and plastic bags at bay, and use what you already own. Have a bunch of stemware that was a housewarming gift? Use them to create individual servings of your prized dessert. Break out the vase you never use or glass shaker that's never seen a single martini — these can now be used as the perfect container for snacks on display.
Scott Zwiesel Bar Collections Carafes, $19.99, available at Sur La Table.
Photo: Courtesy of From The Right; Via Sur La Table, Courtesy of Design Sponge
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Festival of Lights
Decorating can take a huge chunk of change out of your purse that, frankly, could be better spent on presents, food, or heck, your savings. No matter which holiday you're celebrating, lights can be the easiest way to double-duty decorate. If you want to achieve that twinkling light atmosphere, go the basic route and use classic string lights that can be purchased for as low as $6 to $7 per package. Get fancy with your layout and fashion new ways to string lights that will look pretty and create a warm, intimate, and affordable glow. We love CB2's own inspiring idea that gives new meaning to stringing up a tree.
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Dress Up The Dish
When it comes to the meal, it's all about presentation. First, plan your meal with a budget in mind. Opt for ingredients that are inexpensive and zhuzh them up for a wow-factor. For instance, use a simple pastry bag to pipe your classic (and easy-on-the-purse-strings) mashed potato side dish into lovely swirls next to your guest's entree. Our mouths were watering for this easy-peasy recipe from Simply Recipes that can be recreated with the help of a standard pastry bag and piping tip. Another inexpensive tip for big impact is to use frozen (or freeze your own) berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, or cranberries, to add some festive color to your guest's glass. Finally, when it doubt, a beautiful serving platter can do the trick to dress any meal to the nines.
Guggenheim Store Hand-Painted Oval Platter, $100, available at The Guggenheim Store; Limited Edition Gold Zag Tray (and other awesome servingware), available at Up In the Air Somewhere Etsy shop.
Help Yourself
Put a little extra spirit into your party with your own self-serve bar. Skip the expensive mixes, top-shelf liquor (they'll never know, believe us), and overbuying just to satisfy all your guests' different tastes. Mix your own homemade specialty drinks into individual carafes, onto which you can fashion your own festive labels. Just give your guests a few tasty options, rather than fully stocking your apartment with alcohol and mixes that may never be used.
Bormioli Rocco Giara Clear Glass Bottle With Stopper, $4, available at Amazon.
DIY Decor
It's not just gifts that we love to DIY. Put your crafty skills to work with a few easy pieces of statement decor that can really make jaws drop. You know those clementines that you buy by the carton? Take a stab at this adorable instruction video we found on Apartment Therapy for how to turn your favorite fruit into your favorite homey accessory. Really!
Photo: Via CB2; Via Guggenheim Store; Via Simply Recipes; Via Up In The Air Somewhere; Via Amazon.
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