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Whether you’re a student saving up for an overseas trip or you’re paying off your first home loan, everyone knows what it’s like to be on a tight budget in your 20’s and 30’s, which means budgeting and making sacrifices are a must.

One way to tighten your belt buckle without losing your social life is to entertain at home. But even that can be a real budget blower if you’re hosting a big group. And given that the Mozo relationship deal breakers report found that stinginess is a real turn off, the last thing you’ll want to do is come off as a cheapskate to your friends.

So to help you earn the mantle of ‘super host’ while keeping spending down, here are three home entertaining ideas complete with money saving tips to keep your budget intact.

Throw a TV/movie night

If your friends are like mine then Monday nights from April to June have meant one thing over the past few years: Game of Thrones. And while not everybody is going to want to pile into a house on a Monday to watch the trials and tribulations of the Stark family, organising a TV or movie night is always a fun and easy way to see your friends without spending a fortune.

Food and drink savers

Extended viewing demands two things: snacks and a pizza dinner. Sometimes a frozen pizza and a lone packet of chips won’t suffice though, but don’t fear, because you can throw a budget-friendly movie night for less than $40.

First of all, swap out those fancy packets of chips for some homemade popcorn - after all, movies and popcorn just make sense. Next up, it’s pizza time. It’ll take a little more effort, but for less than half the price of two gourmet takeaways you’ll be able to make two deluxe supreme pizzas of your own from scratch.

Finally let’s talk drinks. Wine and beer can get expensive so why not offer your guests a lavish hot chocolate complete with marshmallows instead? After all, who’s going to turn down that chocolatey goodness?

Arrange a Sunday brunch

Looking for an equally delicious alternative to your weekly cafe meetup? Instead of eating out, take turns with your friends to host a weekend brunch at home for a fraction of the cost. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to create a massive brunch spread to rival even the fanciest local cafe.

Food and drink savers

Becoming a super brunch host according to your budget will require a bit of work though, and going down the homemade route will again be key to keeping costs down. For starters, think homemade pancakes over store bought mix and plunger coffee over shelling out on takeaway espressos.

And as nice as croissants may be, opting for a fancy loaf of sourdough from your local bakery could be the more budget-friendly, and equally impressive, option. Add in some bacon, eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, a selection of fruit, plus orange juice and, if it takes your fancy, even some sparkling wine for mimosas and you’ll be able to offer a brunch spread for ten people for well under $80.

Host a dinner party

You don’t have to be a Kardashian to throw a spectacular dinner party, but they can be costly affairs when cooking for a large group. With three courses plus drinks to consider you might be looking at your savings account balance with unease, but if you’re willing to adopt a few work arounds you’ll be able to host a quality night for ten friends with all the trappings for under $200.

Food and drink savers

Everyone loves cheese as a starter, but brie, vintage cheddar, camembert and a nice blue can really add up. Save yourself some dough by swapping them for some wallet-friendly dips, veggies and crackers instead.

When it comes to mains, don’t feel compelled to fork out your money on beef, lamb or fish. Instead, a sharable vegetarian option like three or four veggie curries could be the way to go, and with some rice and naan on the side nobody will even miss the meat.

Drinks can quickly get expensive, but one trick to ensure you don’t blow your whole week’s budget on alcohol is to bring out a fancy bottle of wine or some craft beers first, then move on to mid-range alternatives as the night progresses. By the time everyone’s in the flow or eating, talking and having a good time, they won’t be worried about what they’re drinking.

So whether it’s a casual TV binge or a fancy dinner, it just goes to show that hosting a get together with your friends can be a great way to keep your social life alive without sacrificing your financial goals.

Tom Watson is a personal finance writer at financial comparison site mozo.com.au

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Before you act on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Applications subject to credit approval and fees and charges are payable. Terms and conditions apply and are available on request.

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