Decorate Your Small Space For Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful no matter what size your living space is. If you live in a typical shoebox-sized NYC apartment, it can seem almost impossible! But living in the city doesn’t mean you can’t host an awesome dinner party. Here are some tips for making your small space work for Thanksgiving.

  • REARRANGE YOUR SPACE

Move any furniture you won’t need for the evening. If you live in a one bedroom or bigger (definitely something to be thankful for!), move furniture into other rooms. It’s kind of a pain, but it will make a big difference in space. You can even go as far as moving your TV into your bedroom – you probably won’t need it for the party and it might free up some space for drinks, desserts, or decorations. Rearrange any necessary furniture to better accommodate the party needs.

Need more seating? Brooklyn Party Rentals offers chairs and tables in various sizes for really great prices.

  • DECORATE YOUR SPACE

Spice up your apartment with a few festive decorations.  Here are a few ideas for any budget and apartment size.

FESTIVE BALLONS

Nothing says “party” like balloons! If you have the wall space, you can spell out a festive message with these letter balloons. They’re super cute and pretty inexpensive, depending on what you want to spell. “Give Thanks” will only cost you about $27. It might be a little late to get them in time for Thanksgiving, but it’s still possible to order for Christmas or New Years!

This site has similar balloons for a little more money, but they have fast shipping!

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If you don’t have the wall space to hang a balloon message, you can always get some plain helium balloons in your party’s color theme and place them in bunches around the apartment.

TABLE DECOR 

Decorate your table and counter space with really simple decorations. These leaf mason jars are quick, easy, cheap – and perfect for the fall. If you don’t feel like gathering (possibly urine soaked) leaves from the streets of New York, grab some fake ones from a local craft store or online from amazon. You can also buy tissue paper and cut it in the shape of leaves for a similar effect.

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Buy large glass candle holders, fill them with a pillar candle and unpeopled popcorn – and you have beautiful center pieces for less than 6 bucks!

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Print out pretty images or sayings and put them in nice picture frames. Click here or here for DIY tutorials on how to make your own frames.

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Want more decoration ideas? Click here.

PICTURE TAKING AREA

No party is complete without the pictures that document how amazing it was! If you have the space, decorate a corner of the room or small section of wall as a picture taking area. Keep it in the Thanksgiving/fall theme by covering kraft paper with leaves and pin or tape it to the wall. Spray the leaves with glue and dip in glitter for some added shine.

Don’t have the time to paint and tape leaves? Make a wall full of balloons! You can either blow them up on your own and tape to the wall, or get a bunch of helium balloons and tape the string to the floor.

Click here for more DIY backdrop ideas.

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No space for a picture area? Buy or print some fun photo booth props to have on hand to make those Instagram pictures a little more interesting.

 

 

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Frugal Fun: 11/23 – 11/29

A list of free or low-cost events happening around Brooklyn and NYC this week. As always, if you know of any other fun events that won’t break the bank, please feel free to contact me!

MONDAY 11/23

  • MOBILE MONDAYS – FREE

mobile mondays

Dance away a case of ‘the Mondays‘ with Mobile Mondays “New York City’s Premiere 45’s night for vinyl music lovers.” Each week is often themed (this week is FUNK), but according to the website, the genre doesn’t define the party. Listed as a Time Out New York critic’s pickMobile Mondays is sure to make the worst day of the week just a little bit better.

Located at The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery Street, New York NY), show starts at 10pm.

  • BIG PONY SHOW – FREE

Dancing not your thing? Start the week off with some laughs at the BIG Pony Show. It’s a FREE weekly comedy show located at Leftfield Bar in the LES (87 Ludlow Street, New York NY). Show starts at 8p.

TUESDAY 11/24

  • TRIVIA NIGHT AT BERG’N – FREE

Every Tuesday is Trivia Night at Berg’n Beer Hall. Show off your knowledge of random trivia while drinking from a great selection of beer and munching on food from a rotating list of food vendors. There is no cover to get in and it’s a really spacious location with a chill vibe, so even if you don’t want to participate in the trivia, you can go have a drink and marvel at how much useless information a person’s brain can hold. Located at 899 Berg’n Street, Brooklyn NY.

FRIDAY 11/27 – 11/28

  • BAMcafe LIVE SERIES – FREE

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Every Friday and Saturday night, BAM has free live music and performances as part of their BAMcafe Live series. The performances are different every night and have been a mix of all different styles of music, including rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, world music, and more. It’s located in the bar and lounge area on the top floor of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Performances start at 9p, but there is limited seating, so it might be worth it to get there early. As an added incentive to show up early, they occasionally have happy hour between 6p and 8p – and this Friday and Saturday happen to be two of those occasions.

Akim Funk Buddha will be performing on both nights this week. “A dancer, a beatboxer” and an “all around hip-hop visionary, Akim Funk Buddha has performed at Central Park Center Stage, and appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman.

SATURDAY 11/28

  • THE RUB – $10 before Midnight ($15 after)

The Rub is a dance party held every last Saturday of the month at The Bell House in Brooklyn. It started in 2009 a party with “great dance music mixed well, affordable drinks, and real people; no dress code, no bottle service, and no celebrity DJs.” The Village Voice has called it the “best party in Brooklyn to dance sweatily to smart music.” Cover charge is $10 at the door before midnight and $15 dollars after. Located 149 7th Street, Brooklyn NY.

Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery

Thanksgiving is considered the big kick-off to the holiday season, and nothing says “holidays” like food and family.  But the cost of traveling can be expensive, and the fact that the majority of New Yorkers are not actually from New York means that many people living in the Big Apple and surrounding boroughs might be celebrating a “Friendsgiving” with their chosen family instead.

Just because you can’t make it home for Mom’s turkey and stuffing doesn’t mean you have to eat cold cuts or Chinese food as your Thanksgiving feast. Here are some places around the city that deliver full Thanksgiving meals right to your door!

  • FRESH DIRECT – DELIVERY AVAILABLE 

Feed 2-12 people with small, medium, and large Thanksgiving Dinner options from Fresh Direct. Pre-order for delivery anywhere between Monday 11/23 and Thanksgiving Day. According to the website, meals go from “fridge to table in under 3 hours.” Rolls and desserts aren’t included, but you can add them to your order for an additional cost. Added bonus: Fresh Direct also sells wine and liquor…so you can literally get everything you need for an amazing Thanksgiving dinner without leaving your apartment. Meals come with turkey, gravy, stuffing, cornbread and sides; cost between $89-$219 without any delivery fees and tips.**

They have a $10 off deal going on for those who order early, so you might want to hop on it!

 

  • WHOLE FOODS – VEGAN OPTIONS!

 

 

 

 

Serve anywhere from 2-12 people with different full meal options from Whole Foods. You’ll have to pick them up yourself, but that will still take less time than shopping and cooking the meal yourself. Especially if your culinary skills are less than stellar. They also have vegan options! Cost ranges from $18.99 – $279.99.

  • FAIRWAY MARKET

Fairway Markets have Kosher and Non-Kosher holiday meal options for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. You have the option of ordering items a la carte if you’d prefer. They also sell wine, liquor and beer, and offer pre-made cocktail mixers, disposable plates, and disposable utensils for a cost. Their pricing list was a little confusing in my opinion, so you’d be better off just calling to inquire.

  • ZABARS – DELIVERY AVAILABLE!

Zabars delivers Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas meals for 6 or 10 people. According to the website, shipping is free for orders over $49. Costs is $275 for a 6 person meal and $375 for a 10 person meal – not including tip.**

 

**The delivery people are working on a holiday so that you can enjoy yours – show them a little love with a nice tip!

 

Frugal Fun: 11/16 – 11/22

A list of free or low-cost events happening around Brooklyn and NYC this week. As always, if you know of any other fun events that won’t break the bank, please feel free to contact me!

MONDAY 11/16 – SATURDAY 11/21

  • COLD WEATHER BIKE RIDING AND MAINTENANCE CLASSES – FREE

Just because the weather is getting colder doesn’t mean our bikes have to go into hibernation. The Get Women Cycling (GWC) program, Citi Bike, Ride Brooklyn, and Mr. C’s Cycles are hosting free classes on bike maintenance and cold weather riding at various locations through out Brooklyn.

MONDAY 11/16

  • MOBILE MONDAYS – FREE

mobile mondays

Dance away a case of ‘the Mondays‘ with Mobile Mondays “New York City’s Premiere 45’s night for vinyl music lovers.” Each week is often themed (this week is FUNK), but according to the website, the genre doesn’t define the party. Listed as a Time Out New York critic’s pickMobile Mondays is sure to make the worst day of the week just a little bit better.

Located at The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery Street, New York NY), show starts at 10pm.

  • BIG PONY SHOW – FREE

Dancing not your thing? Start the week off with some laughs at the BIG Pony Show. It’s a FREE weekly comedy show located at Leftfield Bar in the LES (87 Ludlow Street, New York NY). Show starts at 8p.

TUESDAY 11/17 – THURSDAY 11/19

  • ICE SKATING IN BRYANT PARK – FREE ADMISSION / $15 SKATE RENTAL

Ice skating at Bryant Park always free to get in, but up through Thursday, November 19th, skate rentals are only $15. After that, the cost of rentals go up to $19 through the peak season (which still isn’t bad). Make sure to bring your own locks to keep your things safe otherwise you’ll have to pay to rent one. (Rink is closed on Monday 11/16). Located at Bryant Park

TUESDAY 11/17

  • TRIVIA NIGHT AT BERG’N – FREE

Every Tuesday is Trivia Night at Berg’n Beer Hall. Show off your knowledge of random trivia while drinking from a great selection of beer and munching on food from a rotating list of food vendors. There is no cover to get in and it’s a really spacious location with a chill vibe, so even if you don’t want to participate in the trivia, you can go have a drink and marvel at how much useless information a person’s brain can hold. Located at 899 Berg’n Street, Brooklyn NY.

THURSDAY 11/19

  • SCAVENGER HUNT AT THE HOLIDAYS SHOPS – FREE

Bryant Park is having its fifth year of scavenger hunts at the Bank of America Winter Village Holiday shops. They give you the clues and the first person to find all 10 items wins. While only one person can win the grand prize, but all participants are able to spin the prize wheel for a consolation prize (while supplies last). Sign up for the scavenger hunt is at the Park Shop and Info Kiosk, and the event takes place from 6p-8p.

FRIDAY 11/20 – SATURDAY 11/21

  • BAMcafe LIVE SERIES – FREE

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Every Friday and Saturday night, BAM has free live music and performances as part of their BAMcafe Live series. The performances are different every night and have been a mix of all different styles of music, including rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, world music, and more. It’s located in the bar and lounge area on the top floor of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Performances start at 9p, but there is limited seating, so it might be worth it to get there early. As an added incentive to show up early, they occasionally have happy hour between 6p and 8p – and this Saturday happens to be one of those occasions.

FRIDAY – Awesome Tapes From Africa

Brian Shimkovitz, writer of the blog Awesome Tapes From Africa (so popular, it has become a record label of sorts) will be spinning “some of the best of the folkloric pop, left-field dance-floor gems, and hip-hop bangers from his massive collection of ultra-rare African cassette tape finds

SATURDAY – Gato Loco

(From the BAM website) Gato Loco fuses Latin mambo and modern rock firepower for a bold, exuberant sound. Saxophonist Stefan Zeniuk (of New York Howl) leads the brass and bass-heavy ensemble through rousing reworkings of classic genres, updating the traditional Cuban Son with dashes of salsa, 70s punk, and avant-garde jazz. The result is a fist-pumping, celebratory explosion of Latin ballroom music at its most raucous.

I mean…the name means Crazy Cat, so it’s bound to be great time.

Designer frames on a dollar store budget

City apartments might be tiny, but decorating them can put a big hole in your bank account. When it comes to decorating your walls, you can save money on expensive picture frames by making your own! Just buy some cheap frames from a dollar store and paint them to match your decor. It takes a little time to complete (this project took a few hours total), but you can make the most of your time and get some errands done while you’re waiting for the coats of paint to dry.

First, find some frames that are the shape and size that you want. The colors and designs don’t matter since you’ll be painting over them anyway.

You don’t want to lose your deposit by getting paint all over your floors or rugs, so you’ll want to put something down to protect them. I use a garbage bag (cut down the middle). You can also use a cheap tablecloth or shower curtain.

You’ll need some primer to make sure that the paint sticks regardless of the material the frames are made out of. This also helps you get the truest color of the paint you choose.

Primer is really important. I’ve skipped this step before and had to repaint them because the paint kept peeling off.

Save money on paint by buying sample sizes of the colors you want instead of buying the larger containers. These small sample sizes last a long time and will definitely be enough to paint picture frames – and you can save the left overs for your next DIY project!

You’ll also need paint brushes. Stores like Ikea, Target, and Amazon all have some really cheap options. If you’re thinking of doing some patterns or designs you might need some painter’s tape.

Tape off any designs you want on the frames and start priming! I used two coats of primer and waited about an hour in-between each one. Read the directions on your particular brand of primer for a more accurate wait time.

If you’re planning on doing this over the course of several days, you can save time cleaning brushes by wrapping the used brush in plastic wrap and putting it in a ziplock bag. This will keep it from drying out until you’re all done with the project.

Once the last coat of primer is dry you can start painting your frames! Keep them on the plastic until they are completely dry. There’s nothing worse than spending hours on something only to have it ruined by impatience – and I’m saying that from experience!

And that’s it! Create beautiful expensive looking picture frames for a fraction of the price.

Frugal Fun: 11/9 – 11/15

A list of free or low-cost events happening around Brooklyn and NYC this week. As always, if you know of any other fun events that won’t break the bank, please feel free to contact me!

MONDAY 11/9

  • MOBILE MONDAYS – FREE

mobile mondays

Dance away a case of ‘the Mondays‘ with Mobile Mondays “New York City’s Premiere 45’s night for vinyl music lovers.” Each week is often themed (this week is FUNK), but according to the website, the genre doesn’t define the party. Listed as a Time Out New York critic’s pick, Mobile Mondays is sure to make the worst day of the week just a little bit better.

Located at The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery Street, New York NY), show starts at 10pm.

  • BIG PONY SHOW – FREE

Dancing not your thing? Start the week off with some laughs at the BIG Pony Show. It’s a FREE weekly comedy show located at Leftfield Bar in the LES (87 Ludlow Street, New York NY). Show starts at 8p.

TUESDAY 11/10

  • TRIVIA NIGHT AT BERG’N – FREE

Every Tuesday is Trivia Night at Berg’n Beer Hall. Show off your knowledge of random trivia while drinking from a great selection of beer and munching on food from a rotating list of food vendors. There is no cover to get in and it’s a really spacious location with a chill vibe, so even if you don’t want to participate in the trivia, you can go have a drink and marvel at how much useless information a person’s brain can hold. Located at 899 Berg’n Street, Brooklyn NY.

  • BAD DATE THEATER – $5

Enjoy a little improv on Tuesday with Bad Date Theater. It sounds hilarious and tickets are only 5 bucks! Located at The PIT Underground -123 E24th Street, New York NY. Show starts at 9p.

From the website: You’ve had your share of bad dates. But did you ever think they could have gone worse? Welcome to Bad Date Theater. Our storytellers and improvisors will show you just had horribly a date can go. We take a bad date and make it worse. And you’ll be ready to give Tinder another try.

  • COMICS TO WATCH – $16.50

Comics to Watch is part of the New York Comedy Festival, and is a live comedy show featuring the best up and coming comedians from around the country. Located at Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway, New York, NY. Show starts at 8pm.

  • DISNEY ON ICE (Tuesday 11/10 – Sunday 11/15) – $15+ 

For those of you with children (or those of us who will always be a child at heart) Disney on Ice is making its way to Brooklyn! The show is coming to the Barclays Center from Tuesday 11/10 – Sunday 11/15. There are various showtimes to choose from, and tickets start at 15 bucks. Ticket prices are subject to change as the demand goes up, so you might want to lock ’em in now.

WEDNESDAY 11/11

  • TIME OUT NEW YORK’s WOMEN OF COMEDY 2015 – $20

Another event that is part of the New York Comedy Festival, Time Out New York is celebrating female comedians with Women of Comedy, featuring some of the funniest ladies in the biz. The only shows that are available are the 12am show (hey, this IS the city that never sleeps, right?), and the lineup includes: Casey Balsham (hosting), Annie LedermanSubhah Agarwal, Luchana GaticaChloe Hilliard, and Megan Gailey. Tickets are 20 bucks and the show is located at  The Stand (239 3rd Avenue, New York NY). Doors for the third show open at 10:45p.

FRIDAY 11/13

  • GODDAMN COMEDY JAM – $25

The Goddamn Comedy Jam is also part of New York Comedy Festival. This comedy show will be like no other! Comedians (including Hannibal Buress, Bill Burr, Matteo Lane, Big Jay Oakerson and Iliza Schlesinger) will do a stand-up set – and then perform their favorite cover song unrehearsed with a professional band. At 25 bucks a ticket it’s the most expensive on the list, but I’m willing to bet it will be worth every penny! Located at the Gramercy Theatre (127 E23rd Street, New York NY). Show starts at 10:30p

SATURDAY 11/14

  • BAMcafe LIVE SERIES – FREE

IMG_1407

Every Friday and Saturday night, BAM has free live music and performances as part of their BAMcafe Live series. The performances are different every night and have been a mix of all different styles of music, including rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, world music, and more. It’s located in the bar and lounge area on the top floor of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Performances start at 9p, but there is limited seating, so it might be worth it to get there early. As an added incentive to show up early, they occasionally have happy hour between 6p and 8p – and this Saturday happens to be one of those occasions.

Burnt Sugar Arkestra will be performing, who Rolling Stone described as “A multiracial jam army that freestyles with cool telekinesis between the lustrous menace of Miles Davis’ On The Corner, the slash-and-om of 1970s King Crimson, and Jimi Hendrix’ moonwalk across side three of Electric Ladyland.”

Cook Now, Save Later

Eating out is expensive. Even with the lunch special deals at many restaurants near my job, I end up spending at least $10 per meal. Multiply that times 5 and that’s 50 bucks that I’m spending each week – and that’s just for lunch! If you include daily coffee purchases, snacks and dinner you can wind up spending well over $150 a week on food!

I’d also be willing to bet the food isn’t very healthy. I know whenever I don’t bring food from home, I take way too long to head out to eat and then I’m STARVING and end up either buying way too much food or buying something that’s really unhealthy.

The problem is that I don’t have time during the week to make dinner, let alone lunch for the next day. The solution? Meal prepping!

Every Sunday, I take time out to cook all of my meals and snacks for the week. Depending on what you cook, meal prepping can take a few hours to do, but the amount of time and money it saves makes it well worth it!

I usually try to cook things in bulk and plan a bunch of meals that can be used with similar ingredients. So for example, I might make a whole bunch of brown rice, and use it in a burrito bowl or just as a side with chicken and vegetables. Here’s what I did this week – and how much each meal costs after adding up the ingredients:

Chicken and Roasted Cauliflower

I really wanted to use roasted butternut squash as a side, but my grocery store was out of the pre-cut, cubed containers and I didn’t have the time or energy to peel a butternut squash, so instead I grabbed cauliflower which was on sale.

First I preheated the oven to 425. Then I put two chicken thighs in a small baking dish and added oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a little paprika. You can add any seasoning you’d like, these are just my go to choices. Make sure the chicken is fully coated in all the seasoning then throw that in the oven. Cook for about 35 min, turning over about half way through.

Then, wash and cut a head of cauliflower. Throw small chunks into a bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any seasonings you’d like. Then spread the pieces of cauliflower on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil before placing that in the oven. Cook that for about 35 min as well. Make sure you flip the pieces about halfway through to overcooking one side.

While the chicken and cauliflower were in the oven, I laid out the rest of the ingredients for this week’s meal and started to multi-task.

Hard Boiled Eggs

First, I hard boiled a dozen eggs to have for breakfast throughout the week.

Chicken and Rice Bowls

Then, I cooked the brown rice and the spinach for the chicken and rice bowls.


Once the rice and eggs were finished cooking, I set them both aside to cool, threw a bag of frozen corn in the microwave, and chopped up the chicken breasts and put them into a frying pan. Once everything was finished cooking, I grabbed three plastic containers and started to build the rice bowls. The ingredients were enough to make three bowls.

Then, I put my snacks together.

I cut up celery and cucumbers, and added them to ziplock bags along with carrot chips. I have no self-control with dip, so I decided to portion out the humus a head of time so I don’t mindlessly eat the whole container. I sectioned out a bag of cheese puffs into separate ziplock bags to avoid the same problem.

I put the left over olives, corn, and cucumbers into separate containers and will use them to build salads throughout the week. I’m not a fan of pre-building salads, but I try to at least have the ingredients pre-cut which saves time during the week.

The whole process took about 2 and a half hours (including clean up) and I made five cooked and ready to go meals (one of which I ate for dinner), 5 days of breakfast, 6 servings of snacks, and the ingredients for at least 3 salads ready to go.

Now for the cost! Here’s what each meal ends up costing once all the ingredients are added up:

Chicken Thighs and Roasted Cauliflower

Chicken Thighs ($3.18 for 4) = .80 each

Cauliflower (3.99 for the head) = $2 per serving

Total Cost = $2.80 per meal

Chicken Rice Bowls

Rice (5.32 box of 6) = .89 / bag = .30 per serving

Chicken Breasts ($9 for 5) = $1.80 each

Olives ($2 can of 5 servings) = .40 per serving

Corn ($2.39 per 6 serving bag) = .40 per serving

Spinach (2.00 per 3 serving bag) = .67 per serving

Total Cost = $3.57 each

Hard Boiled Eggs 

3.68 / dozen  = .31 each

Vegetable Snacks

Carrot Chips ($2.29 per seven serving bag) = .33 per serving

Celery ($2.50 per pack) = .25 per serving

Cucumber (.79 each) = .26 per serving

Humus ($3.99 per 10 serving container) = .40 per serving

Total Cost = $1.24 each

Cheese Puffs

$3.99 per 4 serving bag = $1 each

The total cost of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, adding in the salad, is $32.14. That’s less than it would cost to buy JUST LUNCH for an entire week!

I’d say it was well worth the 2 and a half hours!