Chicagolandia
From décor to dinner, from beverages to basics – I’ve got loads of tips to entertain at home without breaking the bank.

My tips to live by: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.


Reduce: How much you spend. I can’t think of anyone how wouldn’t want to reduce what they spend while throwing a fabulous party. The tricky part is it looking like you spent top dollar when really, all you did was a little planning. If you have the time to plan ahead (roughly 4-8 weeks is best), you’ll be able to pull off a fabulous party for any occasion while staying easily within your budget.

Reuse: What you already have one hand – this how you get amazing décor without reaching into your wallet. Christmas lights – love those mini white lights – they turn a BBQ into a garden party. String those around a gazebo-style tent, along your balcony, deck, patio, etc. and you’ve instantly set the mood. Reuse an oversize platter by adding a similar-hued and shaped bowl in the center for an instant chip and dip tray that looks elegant. Put out cookies in a large mixing bowl for a down-home feel – whatever the mood you’re going for, I’m sure you have half the décor items right in your own cupboards.


Reuse is not just reserved for decorating, though. Reuse an ordinary ingredient to turn a simple dish into an amazing entrée, salad, or side. Here’s how:

Turn a simple pasta into an amazing entrée by only adding color. Here’s how: with a marinara or red sauce, top with parmesan (or if you’re low on that, half parmesan and half fine bread crumbs) with a generous helping of parsley. Top any pasta and sauce with cheese, bake for 5-10 minutes (long enough for the cheese to melt) and serve. Works best on shorter noodles, but trust me, this instantly dresses up pasta. If you’re doing an Alfredo sauce, add a pinch of color. My favorites: finely diced red bell pepper, chopped, dry-packed sun-dried tomato, or even some shredded spinach toss into the mix.

For a salad, add interest with dried fruit or sun-dried tomatoes. To punch up flavor, add a pinch or two of a complimentary dried herb.

For meat, serve with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, julienned bell pepper, or a simple sauce.

Top ordinary (even boxed mashed potatoes!) with parsley, fancy garlic salt, or a sprinkling of cheese. Pop in the oven to turn the top a lovely golden brown and serve. Remember, to be fancy, it only needs to look fancy.

For a baked good, this is even easier. Alongside a store-bought coffee cake, place a handful or two of plump berries, either at the base of the coffee cake (or any cake, really), or sprinkle a few on top. If they’re on the menu anyway, why not use them as part of the display?


Recycle: Old recipes with a twist. A cake stand becomes a stand for your fancy salad bowl on a buffet line. Anything can be made over, all you have to do is look at it from a different perspective. Not so easy? Ask for someone else’s opinion – especially kids. They naturally see things differently than we do.

How to recycle an old recipe: Swap out one key ingredients for something that serves the same purpose. Oatmeal raisin cookies become oatmeal craisin cookies, swap out one extract, spice, marinade, etc. etc. for another. My mom made If’N cookies growing up – if and she had the right stuff, they would’ve been something else! This idea even works for the main course: like a pork recipe, but all you’ve got is chicken? Boy, does that happen to me – I just swap out one cut of meat for the other. I do match bone in with bone in, boneless with boneless, but sometimes you invent a new family favorite that way.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a frugal girl’s best friend – especially when she’s in the kitchen. Nothing says a great party like a fabulous spread, and with these tips – you are more than sure to have one!
2 Responses
  1. Amiyrah Says:

    Great tips! I'm still curious to see what this giveaway is...been waiting all day! lol


  2. Stopping from the UBP! It was wonderful visit your site. These are awesome tips!


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