Reader Q&A

Reader Question: I was recently invited to dinner by my boss to celebrate my upcoming graduation from college. I have had to work while going to school, and I have a young son, so money is tight. I was happy to accept the dinner invitation. My husband planned to stay home with our son to help limit the money spent. However, my boss recently decided to change restaurant locations, and we truly cannot afford the new restaurant. I know that, per etiquette, I shouldn’t decline once I have accepted an invitation. I can’t put my family in financial harm, though. Is there an exception to the rule since the game was changed? Thank you!

Answer: Absolutely. First and foremost, congratulations on your upcoming graduation! You can tell by your letter that you have your priorities straight, and I truly admire that. The rule of not changing your response when accepted is for times when it’s simply that something more appealing comes up. In truth, your boss should treat you to dinner since the dinner is to celebrate you. You are the guest of honor. It it completely acceptable to let him/her know that the new restaurant choice isn’t in the family budget but that you appreciate his support of your graduation. He/she may affirm their intent to pay for your meal. If not, they may at least change back to the original location. I appreciate your question, as it helps highlight the importance of everyone (your boss, in this case) knowing how etiquette plays a role

As an aside, I think it is very important to highlight the importance understanding etiquette plays in not putting someone in an awkward situation. I encourage wording such as, “I would love to treat you to dinner to celebrate…” in order to let the other person know your intent, as, unfortunately, not everyone knows that when they invite someone to dinner, they should also pay.

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How To Make Your Home Feel Welcoming On A Budget, Part 2

Can I tell you a little secret? Entertaining doesn’t cost a lot. Procrastination does. Every time I’ve gone over budget for a party or spent more than what I felt like it was worth (because what’s the point of spending more than you have to, right?), I’ve always regretted it. It’s also always been because I had too much on my to-do list.

For the past several years, I’ve been a big fan of Money Saving Mom. Not only does she have great money-saving tips and coupons, but she also promotes time management. Why? Because not only can procrastination eat up our time, it eats up our wallet, as well. Seriously, y’all.

We all have the same amount of time in our day. Something I’ve struggled with over the years is busyness. There’s just no point in being busy just to be busy. I’d much rather streamline my time to be productive. Think of our day as a budget. We all have a choice in how we use our time. Are you making the most of it?

Here are a couple of my tricks for entertaining while not spending a lot of money or time.

  • Pare down the menu – Stick with a protein, veggie and a carb. Add a bread if you really want to. Added tip – Utilize your crock pot!
  • Don’t overbook your day – This is especially true for the day of an event. Don’t have it where you’re coming home just 15 minutes prior to having people over for dinner.
  • Plan in advance – If you aren’t waiting until the last minute, you won’t overspend at the store for food. You might find some great deals a week before your dinner party that you’re able to freeze. Or, instead of buying a pre-bought dessert, you can use low-cost ingredients to make one yourself.

Check back for Part 3! What are some tips you use to help yourself not procrastinate? Thank you for reading!!

How To Make Your Home Feel Welcoming On A Budget, Part 1

I’ve had several emails from people who want to entertain but are afraid it will cost an arm and a leg to do so. I hope this post helps you feel encouraged that that’s not the case! This first post will cover the basics of having a welcoming home. To me, that is the foundation of entertaining etiquette. There’s no need to rent a venue or take people out to a restaurant, especially if you can’t afford it. To be 100% honest, I wish we did MORE in-home socializing than we do today.

To begin, nothing is more important to having a welcoming home than it being clean. Nothing. In the kitchen, this means having the sink clear of dirty dishes, counters should be wiped down, etc. In the bathroom, there should be a clean guest towl hanging, the toilet and sink should be clean, at a minimum. In the living room, the coffee table should be clear from clutter and should be wiped down, as well. Now, let me be clear. If someone randomly stops by your home, don’t let dirty dishes stop you from asking them in if you would like to. If, on the other hand, you purposefully invite someone into your home, it should be clean for them.

                         Clean, welcoming home

Another inexpensive tip is to have glasses set out when guests arrive. It helps immediately helps them feel comfortable and welcome. It also adds a special touch letting your guests know you purposefully thought about them and their visit prior to their arrival. If you’re not having a meal, you can place the glasses on your coffee table or on a tray. Sometimes the little things add up.

Along the lines of having glasses out, I also encourage food set out if you’re eating. Appetizers such as olives or cheese and crackers don’t have to cost a lot and they’re usually items most people like. Don’t feel like you need to have more than one appetizer, especially if you’re on a budget, unless you’re having a cocktail party. Most of the time, I find that I have SO much leftover food after parties.

If you’re entertaining for an evening only (as in, no overnight houseguests), make sure you’re completely ready when your guests arrive. There’s nothing more awkward than a host running off to get ready for a party that’s already started.

These are my absolute MUSTS for entertaining. Don’t forget to check back later for low-cost ways to add to your low-cost entertaining!

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you for reading!!