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.
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
Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine
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
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.
See More: Back to Basics Thanksgiving Dinner
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
Looking for new ways to deck the halls? Check out these inspired holiday decorations.Read More »from 10 Simple, Festive Holiday Decor Ideas
Ditte IsagerTwist on a Traditional Wreath
Instead of the traditional evergreen, try a homemade wreath of citrus fruits. Start with a circular piece of florist's foam, then use wooden florist's picks to secure large items, such as oranges, first. Continue with smaller fruit―kumquats, clementines, limes. Tie with a thick velvet ribbon.
Looking to update your holiday decor? Find more easy holiday decorating ideas here.
Melanie AcevedoSparkly Ornament Display
Place vintage ornaments on a cake stand nested with leaves for a stunningly simple centerpiece.
See More: 15 Easy Christmas Decorations
Lucas AllenModern Mobile Chandelier
Use wooden quilting hoops to create a mobile that floats over a table like a weightless chandelier. Turn the inner ring 180 degrees and wood-glue it to the outer ring at the top. Choose various sizes and hang the spheres at different lengths with clear fishing line and thumbtacks.
See More: Holiday Decorating Ideas
.No-fail strategies for handling eight types of annoying Joneses.Read More »from How to Deal with Nuisance Neighbors
By Amanda Hinnant
The Careless Dog Owner
Lets her pooch out to prowl freely―and dig up your lawn, howl at the moon, and sift through your trash.
How to deal: Skip the blame game, says Stephanie Shain, director of outreach programs for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States, in Washington, D.C. "Your neighbor will probably feel embarrassed and defensive, so be honest," she says. "Let her know this is uncomfortable for you to bring up, too." Focus on the animal's behavior―not the owner's. Explain that you're concerned about the dog's welfare and that you want a peaceful neighborhood and unsullied gardens. Then try to come to a solution together. If you can't bring yourself to talk in person, write a letter, says Shain. If nothing changes after a reasonable period, contact local law-enforcement officials and your animal-control agency and find out about noise ordinances and
Use everyday items to dust, polish, and conceal flaws.Read More »from Surprising New Cleaning Solutions
See More: A Guide to Cleaning Household Surfaces
Baby Oil as Chrome Polish
Forget keeping skin soft, baby oil also polishes chrome. Apply a dab to a cotton cloth and use it to shine everything from faucets to hubcaps. You'll end up with shiny, happy surfaces from a medicine-cabinet staple. (Who actually owns chrome cleaner, anyway?)
See More: Clean Your Bathroom, Fast
Broom as Long Distance Duster
To dust crown moldings, place a microfiber rag over the broom's bristles and secure with a rubber band. Then use the long handle to dust areas that your arms can't reach. No more circus acts (starring you, on a rickety, wobbly stool).
See More: How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen
Rice as Coffee Grinder Cleaner
Mill a handful of grains in your grinder and the fine particles will absorb stale odors and clean out residual grounds and oil. Discard the rice and wipe clean.
Toothpaste as CD Cleaner
To restore a damaged CD, apply a dot of
How to refresh a room using boxes, jars, and other household items.
By Joyce Bautista
3 Clutter-Busting Concepts
These three key steps will get you on your way to making order in your home using basic everyday items.
1. Contain: Enough storage space is, of course, the Holy Grail of any household. But solutions to the problem are probably littering your closets and cupboards right now. Use monochromatic boxes, wooden crates, berry baskets, and empty jars to stash anything from mementos to old files, paper clips to dried spices.
2. Repeat: Transform stray containers or collectibles into a decorative tableau by clustering like objects. Consistency produces a neater look than a random assembly does―and while one or two may look arbitrary, a group looks like art.
3. Repurpose: Although your lidless sugar bowl and your wobbly chair no longer serve their original purposes, they're far from useless. You can eke a second life out of idle treasures by assigning them new functions―and, inRead More »from Turn Clutter into Storage and Decor Solutions