Monday, February 16, 2009

Entertain At Home

Tip #70 - Entertain At Home. One of the cheapest ways to entertain or to be entertained is to do it at home. You don’t have to live in a fancy home or have the latest kitchen appliances to entertain well. All you need is a warm manner and welcoming attitude. The main purpose of entertaining is to have fun, to enjoy your company, and to socialize – whether that be over dinner, games, snacks, or a movie. No one is inspecting your house for cleanliness or expecting the trendiest furniture. And if they are, then you probably don’t want to entertain those people anyway.

Most people today are thrilled to be invited over someone’s house. Nowadays it seems like whenever people want to get together, they suggest eating out at a restaurant, drinking at a bar, or shopping at a plaza. I suggest taking entertainment back to the home. It not only is a warmer atmosphere, it is cheaper as well. The cost for two couples for dinner at a regular run-of-the-mill restaurant can easily be $80 or more. For this price, you may be talking over loud music, rushing through a meal, sitting on uncomfortable seats, or eating a dish that is not to your liking. By inviting a couple to your home, you can make a nice meal for 4 people for $20. You can sit in the comfort of your own home, have the music and atmosphere just the way you like it, and take as long as you want to eat. If you don’t want to go to the trouble to cook dinner, you can invite a couple over for coffee and dessert, drinks and appetizers, beer and cards, or a movie and snacks. All of these cost a fraction of what even a simple night out will cost you. And by entertaining in your home you may bet setting up a pattern of doing things in each other’s homes rather than out on the town. This will keep your entertainment budget to a minimum.

If you have children, invite their friends over for a game night, movie night, or a mock sleepover. It is always a thrill for children to have their friends over in the evening. And for pennies on the dollar they will have a great time, while you get some cleaning or relaxing done in the house. Oftentimes the other parents will be thrilled with the “night out” that you are giving them, and they may even return the favor sometime.

In Real Life (IRL) – One of my favorite shows is House Hunters on HGTV. I love looking at the houses others are considering buying. And I like to critique the homes they select. One statement, however, stands out in my mind that I hear repeated over and over again by these potential homebuyers. It is, “This room (or house) will be great for entertaining.” I hear this statement so much, that I always think, “Are people really entertaining so much that they're buying their houses based on its layout for company? And if there is so much entertainment going on in each others homes, how come I’m never invited?” ;-)

Seriously, I hear that repeated over and over again. Now I know there are people out there who are entertaining others every weekend, but they are few and far between, I’m sure. More of us should start entertaining in our homes. Some people have spent thousands of dollars upgrading their kitchens to be showplaces, and then go out to eat. Or they buy the house based on its open floor plan which will be great for company, and then they hold their parties outside the home. I am trying to change that trend, at least in my neck of the woods, even though I don’t have a gourmet kitchen or an open floor plan.

On Valentine’s evening we invited a couple over for dinner. We had benefits many times over from this small gesture. It forced my husband and me to straighten up the house. I made a good, healthy meal. I pulled out and used my bread machine – an appliance that hadn’t been used much in the 9 years we’ve been married. Our children were able to go to bed while we were ‘out’ having fun. My husband’s friend gave him some ideas on how to fix a something that had puzzled my husband. Most importantly, we got to spend a nice, relaxing evening with friends we don’t see very often. All of this cost about $10 plus a bottle of wine that we already had in the house.

The next night I had five of my daughter’s friends to our home for a movie night, since there was no school the following day. (I figured since the house was clean, I should continue inviting people over!) The girls came over for three hours for pizza, popcorn, brownies, and a movie. Each and every mom was grateful that I invited her child over for the evening. Seriously, it was so easy and inexpensive. I used the bread machine (again!) to make pizza dough. I used a brownie mix to make some brownies, and I air popped some popcorn with my 20-year old air popper. I set up the basement with blankets and pillows and popped in the DVD that my daughter got for Hanukkah. Judging by the laughter and squealing, I think the girls had a good time. Afterwards they acted out the movie until it was time to go home. The whole evening cost me about $7 to entertain five girls plus my two daughters – or a dollar per person!

I’m going to try to continue to do this at least once per month – inviting friends over for an evening in. I love using the things in my home that people have given us as gifts or getting use out of something that is just sitting there. I enjoy having people in my home – it’s not the biggest house (only about 1800 square feet), the most modern (think 1950's!), or have an open layout (very separate rooms), but it’s warm and comfortable and people seem to enjoy spending time here. And it doesn’t hurt that it forces us to straighten up the house. :-) Why not invite some of your friends over sometime soon for an evening in?


Assemba said...

Great tips!

Beth said...

We do Friday Fun nights in my neighborhood. Pick up the house (minimally) and gather whatever we have in the fridge, a bottle of wine & Pot luck it! It helps that I have a few wonderful neighbors and the kids are friends. We are very casual about it & it's better than going out.