Summer’s here, and the visitors are coming. Having company can strain your budget unless you plan ahead. Whether it’s food or entertainment or fixing up the guest room, there are ways to save money and still have time to enjoy yourself.
“Start shopping weeks ahead as you find meats for the freezer, snacks and staples on sale.
“Plan your menus around crowd-size, easy-to-prepare meals or serve-yourself buffets. Lean heavily on foods that can be cooked on the grill. Make and freeze a few casseroles ahead of time to limit your time in the kitchen as well as the cost.
“Load up on condiments and plastic/paper goods at a discount or warehouse store to save clean-up time.
“Invest in an ice cream ball (you pass it around a group or roll it to make the ice cream), and keep on hand the ingredients for make-it-yourself desserts such as strawberry shortcake, sundaes or root beer floats.
“ Pizza and a movie — Have a party at home. Sign up temporarily at a video club or check your local video store for coupons or a membership. Call the pizza shops and ask about coupons, or cut them out of the newspaper.
“ Theme parks — Check to see if there is a family pass that can save admission costs, or a discounted group rate for a crowd your size.
“ Borrow games from your friends, including board games, trivia and puzzles.
“ Stockpile craft materials (from the discount store) for the kids on rainy days. Have garden hoses and sprinklers ready for the kids for hot afternoons.
“ Check the paper and online community calendar for free and low-cost entertainment in your area, such as outdoor concerts, zoo, museum, art shows and county fairs.
“ Plan a picnic in a park. Take along baseballs and bats, or even a badminton set.
“ Invest in new linens and bath towels from a discount store for your guest room.
“ Buy a selection of miniature shampoos, soaps and moisturizers for your guests, and keep them in an inexpensive basket.
A little planning not only will help hold down expenses, but give you quality time with your guests as well.
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