Posts Tagged ‘cheap’

A Perfect (and Affordable) Soirée

July 7, 2010

It’s that time of year when you just want to be outside in a summer dress — flipping burgers and sipping a refreshing drink with your friends and family.  Setting up a summer BBQ party can be easy on your wallet AND stress-free so you can enjoy your party with your guests.  Here are my top 5 tips for planning your fabulous summer soirée:

 1)  Buy party decorations off-season. The best time to buy colorful and affordable party table items is after a holiday or summer season when the items are on sale and clearance.  Pick up some reusable (plastic) glasses from your local party goods store.  They won’t break and are dishwasher safe, making for easy clean up.  Often you can find the glasses in a variety of colors and use them for parties year-round.  You can even set up the glasses as centerpieces and add some flowers.

Acrylic Stacking Double Old-Fashioned Glasses from Crate and Barrel

2)  Use what you own. If you already have paper plates and plastic utensils in your home, use them up before buying new supplies.  Take a bright-colored paper napkin, wrap it around a plastic fork, knife and spoon, tie it up with another color ribbon and display the finished utensil sets in a basket with your paper plates.   

Courtesy of The Hip Hostess

3)  Buy a grill pan.  For those of us living in NYC, it’s often a challenge to find an outdoor area to BBQ.  To get the full summer dinner experience, I turn to my handy, non-stick grill pan to do the trick. Most grill pans cost less than $40 and will last forever (or close to it).  The grill pan cooks food quickly, requires little clean up and is a healthy way to prepare food.



4)  Don’t spend hours cooking food for your party.  Grill up some sliders, chop up some burger toppings, grill some veggies (like asparagus) and buy a few prepared items, i.e. potato salad, cole slaw and chips.  Just throw a few small burger patties on the grill pan next to a few thin slices of onion and you’re on your way to a delicious meal.  You can even toast the buns on the pan!  Set up the dinner items buffet or family style and let your guests dig in!  If you are looking for some yummy grilling recipe ideas, check out Cooking Light’s “Budget-Friendly Grilling Recipes.”  

Courtesy of

5)  Make a party drink.  You can often save on costs if you mix up a large pitcher (or a clean vase!) with an icy cold drink. It’s fun to pick a signature drink for your party… and you can even name your drink, i.e. Pink Party Punch or Sunny Summer Sangria.  You don’t need to go out and buy a full selection of drinks if you have a signature drink and some wine and beer available for guests.  One of my favorite restaurants, Parlor Steakhouse, makes an Arnold Parlor, part iced tea vodka, part lemonade.  You can make your own at home!  Just mix up a pitcher of sweet tea vodka,  lemonade and ice to go with your summer dinner.  Then sit back and enjoy… 


Gearing up on the cheap

May 25, 2010

Travel is a way of life for us – from countless hours spent in the air, the constant search for secure airport Wi-Fi, and hotel after hotel, it’s the little things that really make the time away from home that much easier – and more comfortable!  The Discounts & Deals section of Real Simple’s June 2010 issue (p.274) features a handful of really amazing items that do just this.  And with perks: all are available at a discount!

Picture this: Your connecting flight is departing from Gate L7 in Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 3 in a matter of minutes.  You’ve just disembarked flight #1 at Gate C11 – all the way in Terminal 1 – and you’re wearing heels.  Even Carrie Bradshaw’s stiletto skills would take a beating with this trek.  What to do?  Reach into your carry-on and grab your Corso Como flats, packaged oh-so-conveniently in a drawstring pouch.  Slide them on … and run!   












Real Simple reader price: $48, (available in June).
Enter the code REALSIMPLE at checkout. 

(Photo courtesy of Grant Corrett, found at Real 


Picture this: You are travelling cross-country for the holidays and have decided to pack presents for the whole family amidst your down parka, snow boots and flannel pajamas.  While the suitcase does zip closed, the nagging question of “Will it pass overweight baggage muster?” won’t leave.  Erase the worry with an at-home luggage scale.  A compact weigh-it-yourself tool, the “On Your Weigh Luggage Scale” features two ergonomic handles and runs on 2 lithium batteries (included), making the task a cinch.  Never again will we have to pay the $25 check-luggage fee + the $75 overweight luggage fee!  












Real Simple reader price: $22.40,
Enter the code REALFLIGHT at checkout.

(Photo courtesy of 


Picture this:  You’ve got an overnight flight, and after rushing from a day of meetings, the last thing you want to do is wash your face in an airport bathroom sink.  Leave your 3fl oz bottles in your carry-on and pull out the wipes!  No, not baby wipes; Comodynes Convenient Cosmetics Towelettes.  Neatly packaged for easy access and disposal, you’ll feel refreshed in no time. 










Real Simple reader price: $10.40 for eight exfoliating wipes; $4.80 to $5 for 20 makeup-removing wipes,
Enter the code RSPROMO at checkout. 

 (Photo courtesy of Grant Corrett, found on Real 


 Do you have any tricks that make the art of travel easier?  Better yet, any gadgets on the cheap that help you travel in style? 

Find more from Real Simple here.  And for other great travel gadgets and gear, check out