Getty ImagesDon't let sky-high food-and-drink bills crash your party. These affordable strategies let you scrimp without looking like Scrooge.
By Yelena Moroz, Shivani Vora, Kaija Helmetag, and Brad Tuttle
Skip: A full bar.
Opt for: A single, memorable cocktail. For example: a winter lemonade. Muddle ¼ cup fresh cranberries in 8 ounces of this traditional summer drink, then top it off with 2 ounces of vodka or whiskey and a splash of seltzer. Presto! An instant merrymaking hit.
See More: 10 Healthy Foods That Cost Under $1
Allison GooteeSkip: Champagne.
Opt for: Cava or Prosecco. These affordable bubblies are available for around $10 a bottle, says Allison Enke, a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market. Find one that was produced within the past two years. For roughly half of what you would pay for a vintage bottle, you'll get just as much fizzy flavor.
See More: 10 Festive Holiday Cocktails
Skip: Fancy flat breads and spreads.
Opt for: Crostini. You'll save a few bucks if you buy a couple of
Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine
Getty ImagesDon't let sky-high food-and-drink bills crash your party. These affordable strategies let you scrimp without looking like Scrooge.Read More »from Inexpensive Ideas for Holiday Party Food
Formula Z/SNutritious morning meals you can eat while driving, walking, or sprinting out the door.Read More »from 9 Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas
By Maureen Callahan
Fruit and Cheese
A balanced, easy-to-assemble make-ahead morning meal: Grab an apple, wrap 1 to 2 ounces of Cheddar in plastic, and toss ¼ cup of fiber- and protein-rich walnuts into a resealable plastic bag.
See More: 5 Ways to Save Time in the Morning
Formula Z/SPeanut Butter Waffle
Instead of dousing a whole-grain or bran toaster waffle in syrup, cut the sugar and boost the protein and fiber by spreading it with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. You can also sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of raisins, sesame seeds, or extra peanuts for even more fiber, which helps deliver the meal's nutrients slowly and steadily.
See More: Start With: Frozen Waffles
Formula Z/SPlain Doughnut With Chocolate Milk
A plain cake-style doughnut is usually a better choice than a bakery muffin. At Dunkin' Donuts, for instance, an old-fashioned doughnut has 280 calories, while a corn muffin has 510 calories. Add fiber by eating ¼
Mark LundMake any room seem larger with new colors and smart furniture and storage solutions.Read More »from Make the Most of Small Spaces
By Michael Cannell
Go From Dark to Light
Make a cramped living room feel more spacious by lightening the walls (pictured, Benjamin Moore Lemon Drops). The color's brightness is accentuated by darkening the adjacent entryway (Benjamin Moore Bronze Tone).
See More: Color Combinations for Your Home
Mark LundLet the Light In
When curtain rods extend beyond the window frames, it allows in more light and draws the eye outward. "Windows are the eyes of the room," says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, the author of Apartment Therapy (Bantam, $15, amazon.com). "When you cover them up, you make your place smaller."
See More: Your Guide to Curtains and Window Treatments
Center the Room
"People in small spaces often try to get the room they want by moving stuff to the edges," says Gillingham-Ryan. "But it kills warmth." To enliven the space, he suggested a sociable triangle consisting of a Chris Madden classic sofa, a Room &
Thomas LoofReal Simple brings some order to a cluttered kitchen.Read More »from Real-Life Kitchen Makeover
By Nicole Sforza
Wendy Odabashian (pictured here) found her old, 50s-style kitchen only about 50 percent functional-and often overtaken by clutter. Real Simple recast it as a calm cooking and command center, where family flow and food prep could live in peace.
See More: 24 Smart Organizing Tips for Your Kitchen
Thomas LoofAfter: Sleek Outside, Clever Inside
Spotless surfaces. With interior-cabinet space maximized, counters stay clear for cooking. A clean white refrigerator, free of photos and notices -- it holds only caddies for pens and paper -- opens up the room; it's like adding a window.
To buy: Memo center and cup, from $10, containerstore.com.
A stove that fits better. Wendy's old, 30-inch stove didn't fill the space (there was a five-inch gap on each side). This commercial-style model is wider and serves as a sparkling focal point. Under lower cabinets, aluminum toe kicks replace peeling wood baseboards; they match the stove,
Wendell T. WebberNo matter the kind of spill or carpet, these treatments will lift up whatever's underfoot.Read More »from How to Remove Carpet Stains
Food and Drink
See Homemade Carpet-Cleaning Solutions for recipes for all solutions below.
Wine, ketchup, chocolate, coffee, tea, beer, milk, tomato sauce, berries, hard candy, juice, soda, Gatorade, Kool-Aid
1. Dip a white cloth (or a white paper towel with no printing) into the detergent solution and dab repeatedly, then press the cloth on the spot for a few seconds. Wait 15 minutes (it takes time to break down the stain), then soak up the excess liquid with a dry white cloth.
2. Dip a cloth into the vinegar solution and dab repeatedly, then press the cloth on the spot for a few seconds. Wait another 15 minutes. (This is an important step, because white vinegar removes residual detergent, which will attract dirt if left in the carpet.)
3. Rinse by blotting with a cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Wait one hour or until the carpet dries completely. For bad spills, place a
Lauren NassefDon't let money worries ruin your reindeer games. Here, insiders go off the record to spill their best-kept secrets for an affordable holiday season.Read More »from How to Make the Holidays More Affordable
By Yelena Moroz, Shivani Vora, Kaija Helmetag, and Brad Tuttle
Save on Entertaining
Tips from an anonymous caterer
Besides asking friends for recommendations, the best way to find a caterer is to go to a cooking store, like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, and speak to the employees running the demonstrations. Many of them do catering gigs as well, for less than standard local rates. An independent caterer will often be more wallet-friendly than a large company, which can have high minimum requirements (as much as $2,500 per event) and more operating costs, like paying full-time staffers. In contrast, independents are usually amenable to negotiation. So ask for a 10 to 20 percent break, or see if they'll toss in a few more appetizers or another entrée for the same dollar amount.
See More: Inexpensive Ideas for Holiday Party Food
Dana GallagherMake it through the holidays without combusting with this handbook of tips.Read More »from Easy Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress
By Kristin Appenbrink, Lori Bergamotto, Elizabeth Jenkins, Maya Kukes, and Elizabeth Schatz Passarella
Let Go of Holiday Stress
Do you love the holidays? Yes, probably. Do you suffer through the stress that likely goes with them? Errrr... There is a better way. Just take a deep breath, and follow the easy tips in this guide.
Skip Traditional Gifts in Favor of Money-Saving Alternatives
Give to the group. "A Blu-ray player or an ice cream maker is a gift that everyone can enjoy together," says New York City event planner David Tutera. Or surprise the gang with individually wrapped tickets to a shared activity.
Think small. Several creative stocking stuffers in lieu of one big (costly) gift affords you more of a chance to speak to the personality of the recipient while also stretching out the gift-opening process. A couple of ideas: chocolate-covered Cheerios ($5 for four ounces, mrchocolate.com) or stitchable
Gazimal/Getty ImagesExperts reveal the sneaky strategies restaurants use to get you to spend more money.Read More »from How to Avoid a Costly Restaurant Bill
This article originally appeared on LearnVest.com.
Expect the Unexpected
We've all been there: You head out to dinner with a friend, a ballpark amount in mind that you want to spend. You have a great time, laughing and catching up, and before you know it, the wine is flowing, you've ordered the extra appetizer, that tasty-sounding special, and life is fantastic-until the check arrives, and it is double what you wanted it to be.
It's not a coincidence.
Smart restaurant owners know how to boost their profits by using subtle strategies that encourage you to spend more. Here, a restaurant insider and a behavioral psychologist dish about these secrets, so you won't fall for them.
See More: Money-Saving Secrets From the Pros
A menu's layout, language, and other factors can subconsciously shift our ordering patterns. For instance, a study at the Culinary Institute of America found that when
Susie CusherA guide to get you over some of the holiday dinner's most common hurdles.Read More »from How to Fix 10 Common Thanksgiving Problems
Problem: You Don't Know How Big a Turkey to Buy
You want to be sure you have enough turkey but have no clue how many pounds you need for the number of guests you're going to have.
If you need only enough turkey to make it through Thanksgiving dinner: Buy ¾ to 1 pound per person.
If you want enough leftovers for the long weekend: Calculate 1 pounds (or slightly more) per person. Get leftover turkey recipes and turkey sandwich ideas.
If you need a large turkey: Consider buying two 10- to 12-pound birds and roasting them side by side. Small turkeys cook (and defrost) much more quickly than supersize ones, and they tend to stay moister. Print out this simple turkey recipe to get started.
See More: Choose the Right Thanksgiving Turkey
Problem: The Turkey Is Still Frozen
It's 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Dinner is at 2 p.m. And the turkey, which has been thawing for days in the refrigerator, still feels
Gentl & HyersThese 12 easy recipes can be mixed and matched at will and are sure to be the star of your Thanksgiving table.Read More »from Last-Minute Thanksgiving Side Dishes
By Kate Merker and Sara Quessenberry
Though the turkey always grabs the spotlight, the right side dishes make your holiday dinner spread especially memorable. Ready to tackle the main event? Start with this simple turkey recipe.
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Honeyed Carrots and Oranges
Serves 8 | Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: 50m
* 2 pounds very small carrots, scrubbed; or regular carrots-trimmed, peeled, and cut into thin sticks
* 1 orange, cut into 8 pieces
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 tablespoons honey
* kosher salt and black pepper
* 2 tablespoons small dill sprigs
1. Heat oven to 375° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots and orange with the oil, honey, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
2. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with the dill.
See More: 10 Tricks to a