| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

How to Cope With an Inexperienced Interviewer

Interviewing is an unavoidable part of job hunting. Some on-site interviews are relaxed and pleasant; some are strained and uncomfortable. To a great extent, how smoothly an interview proceeds depends on the interviewer. He or she sets the tone and directs the course of conversation, hopefully in a productive manner. The more experienced interviewer is adept at making it an enjoyable exchange of mutually enlightening information. By contrast, the less experienced interviewer is apt to make some miscues that might spoil the overall effectiveness of the meeting. Suppose you find yourself confronting an inexperienced interview. What’s the best way to handle the situation without appearing to be uncooperative or high-minded? The answer depends on the particulars of the circumstance, as well as the personality and style of the interviewer. Problem situations for most professionals who are job hunting, the likelihood of an interview going askew is remote. But, anything is within the realm of possibility. Interviews that turn out unfavorably generally fit into several categories. 

  1. The interviewer asks inappropriate questions. Experienced interviewers are well versed in what to ask and avoid asking. Less experienced interviewers may “innocently” pose questions that are insensitive, unprofessional or otherwise inappropriate such as:
  • “Are all of your children grown, or do you still have some at home?”
  • “Is English your native language?”
  • “Are you married? If so, how would your spouse feel about relocating?”
  • “Where were you born?”
  • “What is your religious affiliation?”
  • “Do you feel comfortable working around others with a different sexual orientation?”
  1. The interviewer strays from the subject. Busy professionals who take the time to interview want to make the most of it. It’s annoying to speak with an interviewer who constantly goes off on a tangent. Usually when this happens, at the end of the interview, the candidate doesn’t know much more about the job than she did beforehand. 
  2. The interviewer appears to be biased. Perceived bias is a very subjective feeling. Obviously, an interviewer is not going to violate state and federal equal employment opportunity laws by saying something outright that’s clearly discriminatory. The more common scenario is that the interviewer inadvertently mentions something that might be construed as indicative of some sort of subtle bias. Or, the interviewer communicates nonverbally something that makes the candidate uncomfortable.
  3. The interviewer doesn’t sell the opportunity. Productive interviews promote mutual exchange of valuable information. Seasoned interviewers have a knack for focusing on the issues that are most germane in determining how good a match there is between candidate and employer. Assuming there’s a good match, the interviewer faces the task of selling the candidate on the opportunity. Generally speaking, the most highly sought after candidates have numerous employment options. They don’t jump at any offer that comes their way. For this reason, experienced recruiters recognize exceptionally qualified candidates and know how to add the appropriate “sizzle to the steak” in selling the opportunity. Novice recruiters sometimes lack this skill, which can result in prime candidates losing interest in the opportunity under consideration.

Practical Solutions

Have you faced any interview situations similar to the scenarios mentioned above? If so, did you handle the matter satisfactorily? In case you encounter such problematic situations again, consider some responses that might be appropriate for the occasion. Redirect the conversation. Whenever an interviewer asks questions that appear to be inappropriate, you are not obligated to answer them. Without antagonizing the individual, you can rightfully mention something to this effect:

  • “I’m not sure what relevance that question has to the job we are discussing or my qualifications for it.”
  • “I prefer that we not bring personal matters into a professional discussion concerning career opportunities.”
  • “Is that something that you ask everyone interviewing for this job?”

That may be enough to clue the individual to the fact that his questions are off limits and not appreciated. Perhaps, he will think a little more carefully before asking anything else so insensitive. It also is appropriate to redirect the conversation when the interviewer strays from the topic at hand. Innocently enough, the interviewer may be a “chatterbox” who likes to hear herself talk. That’s fine and good in some social situations, but the context of a job interview is business. Again, perhaps a subtle remark will serve the purpose of steering the conversation back on track, such as:

  • “We were discussing my accomplishments in my current position. I’d like to elaborate on them a bit more.”
  • “You touched on your company’s growth plans. Can you say more about that?”
  • “You noticed that my resume mentions that I was selected to be Employee of the Month. I’d like to explain how I earned that designation.”

Hopefully, the interviewer will get your drift and steer the conversation into territory that’s more fruitful. Request speaking with someone else. Suppose you really want the job, but something about the conversation makes you uncomfortable. It could be off-the-wall comments that have a hint of bias. Bear in mind that your perception might not be totally accurate. Furthermore, any slight bias that the interviewer might have (which is probably unconscious) is not necessarily representative of the views of the company’s management and might be far from the company’s standard operating procedures. Therefore, it’s best to give the employer the benefit of the doubt and test the reality of the situation that makes you uncomfortable. Similarly, you may simply be turned off to the interviewer’s obvious inexperience but want to pursue the opportunity. If possible, request the chance to speak with someone else who can alleviate your concerns and further convince you that it’s a good company to work for. Suggestions are:

  • “From what I’ve heard, I’d certainly like to pursue this opportunity. Who else might I speak with while I’m here?”
  • “Is it possible for me to meet the department head and some of the other employees during this visit?”
  • “You’ve explained the job very well, but I have some questions for the person who would be my direct supervisor. Is he or she available?”

With this approach, hopefully you can deflect further conversation that’s uncomfortable or less than reassuring. In speaking with other company representatives, it’s quite possible that matters of mutual interest will be established to a greater degree. Even if the interviewer is inexperienced, the result may be a job offer that’s too good to turn down. So think positively and act accordingly.

Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Leadership Transitions

People learn most from experience. That is why it is so important to move people around the organization to broaden their knowledge of the business, face new challenges, and learn how to deliver on stretch assignments. Nevertheless, most organizations do a very poor job of preparing these managers (or the teams they will be joining) for the new assignments. We clarify the new performance objectives, but we forget to clarify the learning objectives for the new assignment. Leadership transition management (LTM) ensures that leaders get the support they need to bond with their new teams, hit the ground running, master new skills, achieve stretch objectives, and prepare for yet higher levels of service. LTM is so successful and such a high leverage OD/LD opportunity because of the high stakes and high risks of leadership transitions.




  1. New Leader Assimilation (Orientation): This practice is recommended every time a leader gets a new team or a team gets a new leader. New leader assimilation, done properly, speeds up team bonding, reduces the time to full team productivity, and helps the leader and team hit the ground running. Deliverables include: accelerating the learning and bonding cycles; increasing productivity; improving communication, teamwork, and morale; reducing employee uncertainty and stress; and reducing errors and turnover (both employee and management).


  1. Leadership Transition Coaching: This practice helps newly appointed leaders transition quickly and successfully into new positions. LT coaches help leaders with the key challenges of leadership transition, including, clarifying the new leadership agenda; identifying clear measures of success; identifying and engaging key stakeholders of the new position; identifying and dealing with skill gaps; creating a transition action plan with first steps, quick wins and milestones; etc. For this, doing an event with the employees and hiring a motivational speaker to pass the message might be useful. I recommend you check Richard Jadick.


  1. Leadership Pipeline: This practice begins with the insight that each “level” of leadership requires leaders to learn new skills and approaches, and give up some of the activities that made them successful in their previous positions—which is not always easy. Organizations that do not map out what is required at each level of leadership and give their leaders appropriate training and support in these transitions, find that leaders do not master their new positions, they hold back the people reporting to them, and the “leadership pipeline” gets clogged. Managing the leadership pipeline is crucial to building internal talent and bench strength, and keeping the leadership pipeline full and flowing at all levels of the organization.



Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Sound for video

The more recent advent of computerized non-linear editing has changed and simplified the (tape based) process of video editing. Camera original is loaded into the editor. Audio is loaded in and then synced up by means of clapstick or production timecode. Audio can then be edited with picture (sort of single system) or creatively manipulated (double system-ish). Some systems allow the creation of multiple tracks, so that sweetening can be combined with picture editing.

The next step, after production, consists of the first picture edit. In video, this is referred to as an “off-line” edit, because it is done using a small format dupe of the original videotape, and a small format viewing/editing system. In video, along with picture & audio, it is possible to record what is known as SMPTE time code. Time code is an electronic frame by frame “edge number” that identifies every single frame on the videotape in terms of Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Frames. By means of this time code, it is possible to conform the original videotape to an edit made on a smaller format copy of the original.

On some shows, the producers will first do what has been nicknamed an “off off-line” first edit. The original videotape is duped onto consumer VHS format tape along with a time code “window dub” (SMPTE time code is keyed onto the picture portion, like credits). The producer can view the tapes on any player system noting down the approximate start and stop time codes of any take or scene. This information is passed along to the editor. Otherwise, the “off-line” edit consists of preparing a rough cut using a professional ¾-inch video editing system. Some ¾-inch systems provide for straight cuts only in the rough cut stage (dissolves and other effects are merely noted on the time code log, known as the “Edit Decision List”, that will be later used to conform the original). Other, more sophisticated edit systems allow for creating visual effects on the off-line version itself, along with storing the time code instructions.

Since the video editor only has a total of two audio tracks to work with (one of which contains the production sound, and the other may contain time code on some systems), there isn’t much that can be done in the way of fancy sound editing at this time.

After the on-line version is complete, video editors begin work on the soundtrack. The process of sound editing and mixdown is known as “sweetening”.

The first step in sweetening is to transfer the edited version of the production track onto a multi-track audio recorder. Matching time code recorded onto the last track of the multi-track tape is used to maintain exact frame sync between the audio and the videotape. This entire phase is called “laydown”.

A computerized controller/synchronizer allows the multi-track to be played in exact sync with the videotape, and also allows other audiotape players to roll in at designated time code points.

The editor splits his production track into separate elements by re-recording portions onto remaining open tracks of the multi-track. Sound effects, narration, and music are transferred over from the other audio sources onto the multi- track with frame accuracy.

If needed, ADR and Foley can also be recorded using special controllers that synchronize video with multi-track audio by means of time code.

After all of the individual tracks have been built, checkerboard fashion, onto the multi-track—the editor then begins the task of final mixdown. Usually, there are still enough unused tracks remaining on the multi-track to allow the mixer to record onto the same tape. Otherwise, the tracks will be mixed down in sync onto another audio recorder. Depending on the budget of the show and the number of tracks involved, the mixer may create a DM & E. Otherwise, the tracks will simply be mixed down to a single monaural or 2-track stereo.

The final process is to transfer the mixed soundtrack back onto the finished videotape from whence it came. This is called the “layback”. 

Of course, there are more things that we didn’t cover here that you might want to add to your video production, such as motion graphics, animations or visual effects. If you want to check more on these topics, click here.


Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Lanyards : Great Possibilities

If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of laying something important down and forgetting to pick it up again, or worse yet, having someone else walk off with it, you may be a perfect candidate to purchase lanyards for both your home and office. Taken from the ancient sailing world, today’s lanyards are approximately 3 feet of cord, nylon, tubing, plastic, or a host of other materials, folded over and sewn end to end, with a hook, whistle, clip, split ring, or ID holder attached. The list of possible uses for custom lanyards goes on and on, but here are just a few suggestions.

Promoting your business is less expensive when you purchase lanyards customized with your company name, logo, and contact information. Handing these out to visitors, potential customers, and anyone else who will take one is an easy and cost-effective way to advertise your service. Trade shows and other large events are also great opportunities to send your name home with hundreds or thousands of interested people.

Lanyards also work well as ID carriers for conferences and conventions. Most people prefer the ease of wearing a lanyard to pinning or sticking on a name tag. Simply collect them at the end of your meetings and recycle for even more savings.

Schools love the lanyard for many reasons. Having your whistle so handy is perfect for emergency blasts or giving directions. Lanyards are also used for hall passes and identification purposes. Most coaches wouldn’t be caught outside without their whistle dangling safely from that important cord around their neck.

At home and for recreation, lanyards are almost indispensable. Use them to protect your keys, your small gadgets, important information. Specialty lanyards are perfect for boat keys, keeping them afloat should they accidentally be dropped into the water. Isn’t your compass also safer attached to a rope or cord around your neck than sitting loosely in your pocket?

By searching online, you can find companies that produce a customized lanyard for your every business need or plain ones for everyday tasks. You can even find eco-friendly varieties for your “green” side. Whatever the purpose, lanyards can save you time and frustration as well as build your business. How’s that for a piece of “string around your neck.”

Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Unique Ideas for Valentine’s Day: Romantic Gifts for Your Wife

Looking for original things to do for your wife this Valentine’s Day? Forget the inflated prices charged by restaurants, not to mention the sub-standard V-Day special menus they all seem to produce. Instead, use the unique ideas for Valentine’s Day in this article to show your wife how much you love her.

Romantic Things to Do on Valentine’s Day

Why do what thousands of other couples do by just booking a meal for two? Instead consider the following romantic things to do on Valentine’s Day:

  • Tell your wife to book the day off work and prepare a picnic for two. Make it special by including her favorite cuisine, or perhaps food from a country she would love to visit. The picnic venue could be the place where you proposed or where you first met; and if that’s too far away, pick somewhere she’s never been.
  • Write a love letter of just a couple of sentences. Paste the individual words of your love poem onto some card and leave the love words in various places, starting with the bottom of the bed after she’s taken her morning shower. Number each word and give her a clue as to where the next one will be found, and then tell her to put the words together once she has found them all.
  • Rent a classic tear-jerker like Love Story or Terms of Endearment; buy a healthy take-away meal from the delicatessen on the way home and hold her hand when she cries. Make sure there are plenty of tissues handy as you may need them too.
  • This one may not be original but your wife will think it’s unique as she will remember it for a long time to come. Take the afternoon off and cook her a candle-lit supper. Place rose petals all over the pathway and inside the house, leading eventually to the bedroom, and line the path with tea-lights, rather than artificial lighting.

Romantic Meaningful Gifts

Need a romantic gift of flowers to express your love? Here are some tips:

  • Red roses are gorgeous but they are hugely expensive in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. Avoid high-street florists and order online from a wholesale florist instead, where savings of up to 75% can be made from a company like Fifty Flowers.
  • Consider alternative flowers to roses too; scented lilies look and smell wonderful and you only need a few blooms to create a stunning display. Also, ask your local florist what’s on offer in her favorite color; if it’s not red, you should be able to find something more affordable.

Inexpensive Romantic Gifts

If your budget or time is very tight, perhaps because you work away, take a look at these unique ideas for inexpensive romantic gifts:

  • Tweets hardly cost a thing, so tweet slushy romantic messages every hour.
  • Or write a romantic poem and put it on her Facebook wall; let the world, or at least all her friends anyway, know how much you love her.
  • Visit the dollar store and look for bargain toiletries. Many of these stores often have pampering spa-related products, so buy her a mix of sensuous bath oil, body mousse, body scrub, foot and hand cream. Pop a card inside your romantic gift saying that you will provide a relaxing foot massage when you next come home.

Romantic Ideas for Valentine’s Day

On February 14th, forget the restaurant meal for two, along with the rest of the world. Instead, do something unique and different for your wife with the above ideas for Valentine’s Day. You may also visit Always On My Heart for great ideas.  And if you’re single, just throw a party!

Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Make Search Engine Optimization Work for Your Blog

If you have a website or blog, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the main thing you need in order to boost web traffic. In today’s world, with the internet being so popular, SEO and page ranking are all-important. Learn how to use SEO tools to make search engines work for your blog.


What is SEO?

The goal of SEO is to boost page rankings with major online search engines. 


Google is one of the most sought-after search engines. This is because it is the most popular. You can get a high search rank with Google through the use of keywords. The more popular keywords a blog features, the more readers it is likely to get.


Most people know how search engines work. You simply type in a search term, then relate websites will appear. Most web users also click on the first few sites listed in their results. 


Bloggers want their sites to be one of those first listed. So they fill their blogs with keywords and content that will draw notice from search engines. That is SEO in a nutshell. And it can work for anyone.


How to Boost Your Page Ranking

Boosting page ranking is as easy as learning the tricks of SEO. There are many very useful SEO tools to take advantage of on the web. There are also keyword counters that calculate the ratio of keywords in your site’s content. 


Many SEO tools work by counting the number of visitors and keeping track of how visitors are getting to the site. These kinds of SEO tools let bloggers know what’s working and what isn’t. So anyone can fine-tune their overall SEO efforts. Getting a high page ranking with the search engines means getting more visitors, and that’s what it’s all about, right?


SEO isn’t as easy as plugging popular words into content. Learn common SEO mistakes to avoid that will help optimize blogs the right way. But it doesn’t hurt to write blog content utilizing popular keywords to get more traffic. In fact, it’s a great idea to do so.



Many search engine optimization tools are free and easy to use, so there’s no reason that a blogger shouldn’t. The Internet is a huge place, and some visitors may need help finding your piece of the web.

Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Marketing and Distribution of a New Film – Final Production Phase

A new movie is too expensive a project without a strong marketing strategy aimed at putting its audience in place, and that is a role that falls to the distributor, along with arrangements for exhibition of the film in theatres. A distributor for a film is brought in as early as the preproduction phase in filmmaking, before the project gets underway.

Film Distributor Input at Pre-production Phase

To develop publicity and audience awareness strategies, the distributor inputs opinion on issues such as the choice of star actors and selection of key visual images that express the concept of the film. For instance, involvement in selecting shots used for making trailers and to strike as prints for campaigns. Publicity strategy begins early, used to tempt investors into the creative project:

  • Rumour creates investor interest
  • Journalistic contacts are exploited
  • Involvement of fans (of the star, director, author or genre) is courted through the release of insider information to fan groups
  • Multi-platform campaigns begin early in production, involving internet sites such as Movie Insider and Rotten Tomatoes.

Iconic Images Market New Films

Distributors are involved in running the advertising campaign, and marketing the film and its star. Trailer campaigns are planned; these will become active later, once production footage becomes available during the filmmaking process. If these are placed within magazines or television discussion programmes, online video venues or celebrity columns, they generate free publicity. These will depend heavily on exploiting:

  1. Signifiers of genre – iconography in posters – the lawman’s badge in Judge Dredd that signifies ‘law and order,’ the blue-faced warrior signifying the fantasy base for Avatar.
  2. Use of stars – intertextual reference to their previous movies which also operate as genre signifiers; for instance, Sylvester Stallone brought with him to Judge Dredd his past roles as Rambo. The battling hero in action-adventure films, which are usually signified by the star, action sequences in trailers and sound-track samples.
  3. Significant unique image – often conveys a sense of the internal universe of the story and characters of the film. This is increasingly used to foreground technical innovation in filmmaking technique. Most recently this would be 3D, whilst often foregrounding a blend of animation and real acting, or computer generated images (CGI).

Technically innovative films may foreground their technical effects rather than a star; both Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland and James Cameron’s 2009 Avatar were led by relatively unknown antipodean actors, leaving the director, story and technically driven visuality to tempt audiences into theatres.

Cinema Release Strategy for a New Film

The distributor is influential in deciding the strategy for the release schedule of a new film. Cinema release strategies can be:

  1. Exclusive – one movie theatre (this is how the premiere used to operate)
  2. Multiple run – platforming a new release in selected cities, maybe 200 screens. Aimed at building up word-of-mouth; often begins with a premiere.
  3. Saturation run – blockbuster productions increasingly aim for this. Heavy promotion across all platforms, radio, press, advertising, and global release almost simultaneously.

Global saturation was the strategy for Avatar, a blockbuster which proved technically challenging and hyper-expensive but delivered the best first week box office receipts of any film. Just as well, considering the extensive challenge at the post-production and editing phase in filmmaking which includes preparing copies for various exhibition technologies; “with the global movement in its current state, movies require traditional film release prints as well as all emerging 2D and 3D digital-cinema formats with great visual effects, meaning the task of creating deliverables is – for the time being – more daunting than before,” Giardina reports.

Building the Cinema Audience in the Twenty-first Century

A distributor does not just secure contracts for exhibition of the film, but builds an audience for it, profiling this audience through research strategies:

  • Age, gender, demographics of place, lifestyle, income
  • Research in the age of the multiplex (roughly since 1996) shows a widening of the audience base, which has brought about creation of a wider range of types of product. This also offers opportunity to maximise audience size by devising a plural campaign rather than a narrowly targeted one.

Advertising the new movie is the most expensive strategy for attracting an audience into theatres. It may take up 25% of the total film revenue, including national TV promotions, online promotion and regular advertising both before and after release.

  • The aim of advertising before release is to deliver biggest box office receipts for week 1 of exhibition, before word-of-mouth or poor reviews can put off people from attending.
  • The aim of advertising after release is to keep cinemas filled and to create audiences for television premiere showing and DVD/video versions in advance.

Multiple platform ability from digital equipment allows use of outtakes removed for time/length reasons to be incorporated onto DVD versions, an extra that serves well in marketing. Along with the ‘how-we-did-it’ feature length programmes utilising film-of-the-filmmaking-process footage in marketing as teasers and tasters.

Filmmakers Use Synergie as a Marketing Strategy

Synergie Strategy – the result of convergence within culture industries, so that various arts and media platforms become under single ownership. Example: the merger of AOL-Time-Warner brought together music, print, online and screen production. The soundtrack is in the charts on radio and internet; teasers and trailers appear on billboards and TV and online; videogames are released and advertised on TV and online; articles offering exclusive images and inside information appear in the conglomerate’s newspapers and magazines.

There are many distribution companies, often listed online in national film industry databases, such as UK, Australasia or Canada film distributors lists, or try IMDB list of film distributors.

Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

Party Ideas – How to Host Great Cocktail Parties

Simple Tips on Making Cocktails, Frosting Glass Rims & Finger Foods

Cocktail parties are simple with the organization & the right equipment. These tips for making cocktails, frosting rims of glasses and buffet finger foods give great parties.

Holding a cocktail party is not only a fantastic way to entertain groups of friends, family or business acquaintances but it is also a versatile social occasion. Cocktail parties can be held at any time of day from mid or late morning to afternoon, before dinner, or, indeed, at any time in the evening. It has to be said, therefore, that hosting a cocktail party can be social drinking at its finest.

Simple Organisation & Tips for a Great Cocktail Party

For guests, part of the fun of a successful cocktail party is watching a drink being made; however, for the sole host, this can be a little time-consuming. Unless a number of professional bartenders have been hired for the occasion, it is sometimes easier to limit the types of cocktails being served.

An ideal accompaniment to any cocktail party is to provide a number of punch type drinks as well, such as large bowls of Sangria or Champagne Punch. This way guests can help themselves to drinks or wait for handmade cocktails.

Equipment for Making Cocktails

Ideally at least one cocktail shaker will be needed as fruit juices and cordials mix far better with spirits when shaken. The cocktail shaker also strains the drink as it is poured into the glass.

Drinks measures for cocktails are also useful to ensure the correct proportions for drinks, however standard measuring jugs can be used.

Crushed ice is a vital ingredient of most cocktails, and this is easily prepared beforehand by crushing ice cubes in a blender or putting ice into plastic bags and hammering with a rolling pin.

Consider also fruits and embellishments for the cocktails: paper cocktail umbrellas, slices of exotic pineapple, even slices of lemon, lime and orange will enhance the appearance of each drink significantly.

Frosting the Rim of a Glass for Professional Cocktails

Cocktails have a professional appearance when served in a frosted glass. Frosting the rim of the glasses is not difficult. Initially, dip glass rims into iced water or lemon juice and then into caster sugar, and turn the glass to give an even coat of sugar.

Buffet Foods and Snacks

Finger foods are ideal snacks for the buffet for a successful cocktail party and should all be bite-sized. As guests will probably be standing, they will be more comfortable if they can take foods from the serving platters and eat them in one bite.

Choose a variety of foods with different appearance, color, flavor, and texture and ensure that dishes can be prepared in advance.

Canapes are ideal foods for cocktail parties, although it’s necessary to give thought to toppings. Moist toppings will make the canape base soggy if prepared too early.

Bowls of peanuts, cashews, salted almonds, olives, and other pickles are a great staple snack for parties which can be left anywhere in the room for guests to help themselves. Pistachios are a little more problematic as they can be messy.

Cocktail sausages are another staple party snack which can be served hot or cold, speared on cocktail sticks.

Colorful vegetables are also fantastic finger foods. Celery, cucumber, and carrots can be cut into small sticks and served with different dips, whilst lightly fried mushroom caps and tomato halves are fantastic with tasty fillings.

Organizing a Successful Cocktail Party

Organizing a successful cocktail party is really not difficult, following some of these tips. Furthermore, as cocktails are acceptable drinks at almost any time of day, cocktail parties are a truly versatile way to celebrate any occasion.


Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

How to Throw a Cheap, Chic Dinner Party

How to Throw a Cheap, Chic Dinner PartyIt’s a myth that entertaining costs lots of money – with a little creativity, a dinner party for eight doesn’t have to cost so much.

It’s always fun to host a dinner party until it starts to crunch your wallet. But dinner parties needn’t be canceled in lean times; instead, focus on high-value, low-cost items to make your party shine just as much as ever without costing a pretty penny.

It’s All in the Details

Instead of buying candles and flowers for a centerpiece, think a little closer to home. A bowl of found objects from around the house, like ornaments or trinkets, can make a very interesting centerpiece that sparks conversation. Instead of candlelight, dim the lights around the table for a similar effect. If it’s candlelight you’re after, though, try grouping together an eclectic mix of candles you already have, or for a more uniform effect, buy cheap tealights and set them at different levels in the middle of the table.

fancy table setting

Using your fanciest dishes makes the party feel elegant and special, even if it doesn’t cost you anything more than using your everyday dishes. Set full place settings with two forks and two glasses at each place (one for wine, one for water) and it’ll feel like high tea at a fancy restaurant.

Focus on Good Food

goat cheeseInstead of serving an appetizer spread, it’s important as a frugal entertainer to stick to one thing and do it well. Try a goat cheese or cream cheese appetizer, and try to mix simple flavors that will complement each other.

For dinner, stick to simple ingredients but work on your culinary prowess by preparing it in an impressive way. Chicken Kiev, for instance, or flank steak with an elaborate marinade. By sticking to quality, but low-cost, ingredients, you’ll please your guests, and by cooking it in an out-of-the-ordinary way, you’ll impress them, too. Serve a modest-size main dish and make more than enough side dishes (a vegetable and a starch, preferably) so that the extra-hungry guests in your group have something else to munch on when it’s time for seconds.

When it comes to drinks, stick to affordable beverages so you can get a few kinds to satisfy everyone’s tastes without breaking the bank.

Add Low-Cost Fun

fun party gamesInstead of making the entire night focused on food, switch gears halfway through the night and introduce a fun activity that all your guests can participate in. That way, you don’t have to keep serving food and drinks for your guests to stick around into the wee hours. Try a game night, a regular poker dinner party or a movie on your own TV. A game of horseshoes in the backyard is fun, too, if it’s warm enough outside to play.

The bottom line is, friends gathering is always fun if there’s joy and fun happening. The rest is just details, so why spend so much on it?

Read More
| by Montana Rhodes | No comments

How to Find a High School Prom Venue

How to Find a High School Prom Venue

Planning a high school prom dance can be exciting for students, parents, and teachers, but can also be a source of stress. There are a lot of things to keep track of: where the event will be held, decorations, music, refreshments, photographers. Here is a planning guide to assist the prom planning committee in locating the perfect prom venue.

Prom Basics

How to Find a High School Prom Venue - Event Date

Before finding a venue, there are a few important details that need to be taken care of ahead of time.
Date of event. Look at a school district master calendar to see which weekend will conflict with the fewest extracurricular events. This date will be what the rest of the planning guide is based around.
Budget for event. Talk with a school administrator to make sure that everyone knows exactly how much is available to spend. If a fundraiser is necessary, assign one or two members of the planning committee to organize a prom fundraiser to help offset the various costs. Having and keeping to a strict budget will assist in negotiating with vendors.

Finding a Prom Venue

How to Find a High School Prom Venue - prom locations


The earlier a venue is booked for a large-scale event like a high school prom, the better. Reserve a space no later than 20 weeks prior to the event date.

To narrow down venue options, talk with administrators or past prom committee members to see what people have done in previous years. Some schools may not want formal events held at hotels or far away, so be sure to check with administrators for any off-limits locations. Look online or in the phone book for nearby museums, convention centers, galleries, hotels, even public libraries and university spaces to get a feel for the selection.

Some things to look for in a prom venue:

• Is there a clear front entrance where guests can check coats, submit tickets, etc?
• Is there an area that can be separated off for photographs?
• Will the venue facilitators set up the space, or is that something the prom committee will have to do?
• Are there cleaning supplies available for post-dance cleanup?
• Is there an area for on-site dining, or will guests need to book restaurant reservations elsewhere?
• What kind of decorating options are available: can anything go on the walls? What have people done in the past for formal events?
Give some thought to questions and come in to any venue tour with a checklist.

When it comes to price, bring someone along who can help negotiate. If the committee decides to hold the event at the same location as previous years, the venue may be willing to strike a deal, especially if things have gone smoothly before. Keep extra expenses (AV equipment rental, on-site refreshments) to a minimum or ask for a discount on these items.

The most important thing is to visit any potential prom site in person: do not book any space sight unseen and without talking over the contract with the venue facilitator. Get any discounts or additional agreements in writing and ask the site manager to sign it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from committee members, parents, and school staff members.

Read More