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How to Entertain on a Budget: Quick and Easy Decorations and Recipes

MyApartmentMap - Sep 26, 2011

You’re broke. You have an awesome place. And you want to throw a fun dinner party. Ok, maybe your place isn’t even that cool, but you want to throw a party. This is always a dilemma that doesn’t have to be a dilemma. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way about entertaining on a budget that will make your friends question if you’re being paid too much.


 Add little knick knacks around the house as decorations and incorporate nature into your decorations. Bringing the outdoors inside always spices up the ambiance and guests are really impressed with simplicity. Two quick tips to spruce up the décor of your apartment:

Flower in Water

 What you’ll need

  • Water
  • Bowl (Preferably clear)
  • Flowers
Find your favorite bowl (clear bowls usually work best) and pour some water into the bowl. Next, cut just the stems off of the flowers and place them in the bowl. It’s possible to be creative with this by having many bowls scattered throughout the house, with different sizes and flowers. Also, you can change the number of flowers you put into the bowls.

Candle in Sand

What you’ll need
  • Vase
  • Sand
  • Tea Candles
Find some different sized vases and fill them up with sand to your desired height. Then place tea candles on top of the sand. The glow will fill up the room.


Buy a cheaper wine that tastes good such as Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw. Pour the wine into a wine decanter or carafe so your guests do not see the label of the wine. This way the wine snobs can appreciate the wine sans knowing that the wine is a two buck chuck.


One thing that I’ve learned throughout the years is that tapas go a long way. Guests love to be able to talk while snacking on delicious food. A sit down dinner is always really fun, but making a 3 course meal on a budget is a little difficult.  Underneath I’ve provided some delicious (just pick a few) easy to make apps and desserts. Most times during dinner parties by the time the main meal comes the guests are already full, so why not just skip the middle and fill up on the good stuff.


Apricot Delight

  • Pillsbury croissant dinner rolls
  • Apricot Jam
  • Goat Cheese
  • Walnuts
  1. Roll out the Pillsbury croissant dinner roll so it is completely flat. Try to make sure there are no holes in the dough.
  2. Cut up the goat cheese and place it evenly throughout the roll.
  3. Spread the apricot jam on the dough.
  4. Roll the dough fairly tight, and cook as directed on the package adding an extra 5 minutes.
  5. Wait until it has cooled and cut in diagonals.
  6. Place on serving dish with toothpicks surrounded by walnuts.

Caprese Salad
  • Mozzarella
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  1. Cut the Mozzarella into slices.
  2. Cut tomatoes into slices with the same thickness as the mozzarella.
  3. Place the tomatoes on top of the mozzarella.
  4. Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle salt (Some people like to add balsamic vinegar as well).
  5. Finally, place basil on top of the cheese and mozzarella.

Guac with a Twist
  • 1 Avocados
  • 1 Limes 
  • Salt
  • Fresh Mint
  • 1 Tomatoes 
  • Chives
  1. Peel off the skin of the avocados and cut in half. Take out seed.
  2. Dice the avocado, so it becomes easier to turn into a dip.
  3. Dice the tomatoes, chives and mint. Put chives and mint into the avocado.
  4. Squeeze lime, put a dash of salt, and stir until you reach a consistency that you like.
  5. Finally, add the tomatoes and stir gently.
  6. Chill and serve.  Hint: If you’re not serving the guacamole right away, put a spoonful of some mayonnaise or sour cream to keep the color.

Pita Chips
  • Pita Bread
  • Salt
  • Olive oil 
  • Any other spice that you like: Rosemary, basil, oregano, cinnamon and sugar etc.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Separate the pitas and cut them into 8ths.
  3. Cover a pan with aluminum foil.
  4. Spread the pitas on a single player on the pan.
  5. Drizzle the pita’s with olive oil and salt (or other spices). If you are going to use cinnamon and sugar, butter should be substituted for olive oil.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes and flip, and then for another 5-8 minutes or until crispy. Time is varies due to different oven temperatures.

***Hint: for extra crispy pita chips, broil in the oven for a minute or two.***

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

  • 2 Cucumber
  • 2 Tomato
  • 2 Lime
  • ½ cup Fresh Mint
  • ½ White Onion
  1. Dice tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and mint.
  2. Mix together and squeeze lime.
  3. Serve in large bowl and let people spoon out.

Cold Yogurt Soup

  • 2 Cucumbers
  • ½ cup of Dried mint
  • ½-1 cup Raisins
  • 1 container Plain Yogurt
  • About 10-15 Ice Cubes
  1. Peel a cucumber and then grate into a bowl. Drain the juice.
  2. Pour a large container of plain yogurt into the cucumbers.
  3. Mix the mint into the yogurt and cucumber.
  4. Wash the raisins and dry them, and put them into soup.
  5. Finally, put the ice cubes into the soup. Hint: Walnuts are also a great addition to the soup.
  6. This should be served in soup dishes.
Baked Squash
  • Ingredients
  • Squash
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Wash and cut the squash as thin as you can the long way.
  3. Put into a long Tupperware or dish.
  4. Cover in olive oil, salt, and garlic.  
  5. Cover a cookie sheet with sides with aluminum foil.
  6. Place squash into the cookie sheet.
  7. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, and then flip over for another 5-7 minutes.
  8. Put the oven on broil and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Watch the squash

***If you have a grill, place the squash right on the grill and it gives you the same results with a better taste. ***

Baked Carrots

  • Carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Put water onto boil.
  2. Cut carrots tops off of carrots, and then in quarters.
  3. Put carrots in water and boil until the carrot is semi soft.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  6. Take carrots out of water and drain.
  7. Place them on the baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt.
  8. Cook for about 10-15 minutes flipping them half way through.
  9. Again, put the oven on broil and cook for about 1-2 minutes at the end.

***If you have a grill, place the squash right on the grill and it gives you the same results with a better taste. ***

Asian Meatballs


  • 1 package Ground turkey or Ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Light soy sauce
  • Fresh mint
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili powder
  • Salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.

  2. Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the pan.

  3. Dice garlic, onion and mint.

  4. In a large bowl mix ground meat and the above ingredients together.

  5. Put in about a table spoon of each of the spices (salt, cumin, paprika, and chili powder) and mix together.

  6. Mix in the dark (1 tablespoons) and light soy sauce (2 tablespoon) in the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well with your hands.

  7. Now, start rolling the meat into about 1 inch balls. Don’t make the balls completely smooth, in fact as soon as they are round stop rolling.

  8. Transfer balls to pan. Cook for about 10 minutes and turn the meatballs and good for another 7-10 minutes.

  9. Transfer onto serving dish.

Dipping Sauce for Meatballs

  • 1 Cup Light soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Dark soy sauce
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger


  1. Chop about 2 tablespoons ginger.

  2. Place the ginger into a bowl.

  3. Stir in about a cup of the light soy sauce.

  4. Stir in about a tablespoon of the dark soy sauce.

  5. Add about a tablespoon honey.

  6. Finally, squeeze 1 lime and mix.


Chocolate Mousse

  • A Bar of Unsweetened Chocolate 
  • A tub of Cool Whip
  • Cupcake papers
  • Mini crunchy chocolate chip cookies
  1. Melt the unsweetened chocolate on in the microwave on medium heat for 1 minute.
  2. Take out and stir.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the chocolate is completely melted.
  4. Pour into the Cool Whip and stir.
  5. Spoon out even amount of the chocolate mousse into the cupcake papers.
  6. Place a cookie on top and serve.


Chocolate covered strawberries/bananas (or anything else chocolate covered)

  • 1 Chocolate bar (any kind- Lindt, Dove, Ghirardelli- Dark, White, Milk- it’s up to you)
  • Strawberries, bananas or blueberries
  • Wax paper
  1. Wash the strawberries (or whatever fruit you are using, we are going to use strawberries for this example) and pat dry. Set aside.
  2. Cover a plate/dish/pan with wax paper.
  3. Melt the chocolate bar similar to above, on medium heat for 1 minutes.
  4. Take out and stir.
  5. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the chocolate is completely melted.
  6. Dip the strawberries into the chocolate and place on the wax paper. Do this with the rest of the strawberries.
  7. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until the chocolate is hard.
  8. Gently peel the chocolate covered objects and place on a serving dish and enjoy!

Blueberries and Mint

  • Blueberries
  • Mint
  1. Wash the blueberries.
  2. Cut up the mint.
  3. Mix Yes, it was that simple.