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How to Host on a Budget

Lifestyle, MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

After publishing my mini hospitality series and this post here, I was inspired to share some more tips and ideas on the topic of hosting and hospitality. Budget is always something that I try to be mindful of because if I’m not, money starts disappearing. Well, not really, but you get what I’m trying to say.

I am passionate about the topic of hospitality and I so wish it was something that was practiced more! Gathering together is such an encouraging thing - even for an introvert like myself. It’s so important to cultivate the culture or fellowship, and this is one way that is often overlooked in this age of technology.

Today, I want to share some more practical tips about hosting others, but this time on the topic of finances. Is it possible to have guests over and stay within your budget? Absolutely!

How to Host on a Budget | www.maplealps.com

Choose simple meals you are familiar with

When you’re hosting someone intentionally, what food you serve is not as important as how you serve and encourage hearts. Choose a simple, healthy meal that will not leave anyone feeling too heavy. Also, choose a meal you are comfortable cooking - nights you are hosting are not the nights you should experiment with a new dish. You might end up tossing it and going back to something easy anyway, so save your pennies on a simple meal! Some of my favourites are:

Roasted Garlic Pasta, Green Beans, Bread, and a Salad!

Fruit for dessert with some easy cookies or homemade ice cream

 

Meal plan accordingly

There is no need to go overboard with the amount of food you serve. Plan accordingly for your amount of guests (and you!).

 

Set a Budget and Shop smart

Without setting a budget, there will be no boundaries to the amount you spend. That being said, there is no reason to go overboard or over your budget when picking up groceries. Check for coupons, and don’t go shopping when you’re hungry! Also, check your pantry before you leave!

 

Related: How Not to Go Broke From Buying Groceries

 

Pick flowers from your own garden

While not necessary, flowers are nice to have to create a welcoming environment. Depending on the season, rather than buying flowers, clip some from your own garden (or sit outside and enjoy the garden!). You don’t have to buy expensive blooms to have them appreciated.

 

Use cloth napkins

We always host with cloth napkins because we don’t buy paper ones in an effort to reduce our waste production. But the cloth version helps with the budget too! They don’t cost much extra to wash because we just throw them in with the rest of the kitchen linens anyway, and they can be used over and over again! It’s a great plus that they’re pretty! Just make sure they’re nice and clean before giving them to a guest.

 

Consider a potluck if appropriate

If there is no way you can accommodate everyone, or there is an extremely large group coming, consider asking for help! Make it a potluck so no one feels awkward - where everyone brings their favourite side or dish. You can even assign items so you have more control over the menu. It’s always fun to sample different dishes, and most people don’t mind bringing something to share!


 


How do you host on a budget? Any tips?


 

 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

There is, unfortunately, a lot of waste associated with the holidays. Between gifts, packaging and even food waste and packaging, Americans throw away an average of 25% more trash during this season. 

I know for me growing up, Christmas morning was filled with tons of wrapping paper and such. It was normal to grab a huge garbage bag after opening all of our gifts and stuffing as much as we could in there. Then it would go out to the curb for the garbage man to pick up! And this was normal. 

The good news is that there are a lot of creative ways to make that less. The change can begin with you!

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Food

Buy Less - Be Realistic: Plan Carefully so that you know exactly how much to buy. Realistically, not everyone will be eating a full serving of anything if there are a ton of choices, so consider making fewer dishes, or smaller amounts of each option.

Go Small: Use smaller plates and encourage self-serve to reduce unwanted food waste. There is nothing worse than seeing half a plate of food being thrown out!

Use Leftovers: Eat those leftovers, or if you still have a ton of untouched food, consider donating it.

Compost Food Scraps: I think this is pretty straightforward. 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Gifts

Thoughtful Gift Giving: Practice the art of thoughtful gift giving. Don't give others something they won't be able to use, or give just something just because you feel obligated to. 

Give Experiences instead of Things That Can Be Wrapped. This is a great thing that can potentially lead to giving the gift of quality time! Gift things like tickets to something or plan a fun scavenger hunt. Be creative!

Be Creative with Wrapping: Skip conventional wrapping paper that you can find ample amounts of in the landfills every year. Wrap gifts with things such as scarves or newspaper. Try a kitchen towel or even a mason jar for kitchen gifts!

Find gifts that have less packaging: Edible gifts are great for this!

Consider skipping the Christmas Card: I love getting Christmas cards, and I love sending them as well. If you absolutely must send them, choose recyclable paper options. I know that they go in the trash and it's the thought that counts, but it is something to think about. 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Decor

Recycle Your Christmas Tree: It's really a myth that plastic trees are better for the environment, as the material used is generally not good for the landfills. If gettng a tree, opt for a real tree if possible. Do some research about recycling trees in your area - many places turn your used Christmas Tree into mulch or wood chips to be used again. We like to use ours in the summer as firewood in our pit...

Be minimalistic with your decor. Yes, it's adorable to have reindeer chair covers and streamers, but do consider that less is more when it comes to Christmas decor. 

 
 

Being mindful of your waste production doesn't have to be hard over the holiday season! Practice all year, and you'll be a natural by the time the holidays roll through! How do you minimize your waste over the holidays?


 

5 Ways to be Intentional About Your Phone Usage

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps6 Comments

Phone usage has been a hot topic since…..well, since phones came out. Studies and scares about phone radiation are always talked about and campaigns against texting and driving produce thought-provoking, heart-wrenching television ads. Not to mention all of the studies about how your phone is the most disgustingly nasty germ infested electronic you own. I see my phone as a necessary “evil.” I need it to call my mom, and it’s required for work, but sometimes I find myself unnecessarily using it (like adding simple numbers...what?!) and giving it time I will never get back. There have been moments I’ve wanted to throw my phone out of the window. Let me explain:

5 Ways to be Intentional About Your Phone Usage | www.maplealps.com

One thing that really hit me was realizing that I hardly know anyone’s phone number by heart anymore. In school, I remember memorizing my best friend’s number (I still have it memorized to this day!), but I don’t remember the last time I had to actually punch in a number.

I also rely on my phone too much to remind me of things. While this is fantastic, and I would have had to write it down anyway, I can’t help but feel that my brain is shrinking (okay, it's probably not...) when I don’t want to remember a simple task or take the time to write down a particularly great quote I want to remember.

The last thing: simple math. I’ve recently started being more intentional about NOT using my calculator app to figure out simple discounts in the store. I make my students figure out 20% of a number all the time, so I figured I should start practicing what I teach! Besides, that way when they ask when they will ever use it in real life, I could reply, “Well, I just did it Tuesday when I needed to figure out the tip for my hairdresser!” That’s logical, right?


 

Limit your mindless scrolling

Endless scroll through Instagram or Facebook can be an addictive, dangerous trap! Set a timer if you must, or limit your social media usage to a desktop version. It is amazing how much time goes by when you decide to scroll through social media on a phone.

 

Take advantage of do not disturb

There are these fantastic settings most phones have: a do not disturb and airplane mode option! Take advantage of it during quiet moments, driving moments, or if you’re like me, use airplane mode before sleeping or taking a nap.

 

Do not let your phone be the first thing you check when you wake up

Start your day right. Phone notifications can be a stressful thing! If the first thing you see are you unread messages and emails, your mind will go right to those tasks rather than making sure your morning is quiet and sacred. I like to think of it this way: I want to read God’s Word before I read any of man’s word.

 

Don’t let your phone be the last thing you look at before you sleep

Be strict with when you end your phone time. Put your phone away at least an hour before you go to sleep. This will allow you to unwind, relax, and maybe even get to that stack of books on your nightside table. Maybe have a quality pillow talk session with your spouse. Pray and connect with your loved ones before sleeping, not your phone.

 

Create a phone-free zone

When I was in college, I made my dorm room an English-free zone. My roommate and I were only allowed to converse in German. It was good for me. Having a phone-free zone has been good for me too. For me, it’s my bedroom. It took a LOT of convincing my husband (mostly because he uses his phone as that alarm clock), but we finally did it, and I am SO GLAD we did. You can read more about our experience here.

 


What sort of ways do you make sure you are using your phone intentionally? 


 
 

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

When I was studying abroad and learning German, I decided to make my dorm room an English-free zone. I even made signs and put them on my door and bulletin board, just in case my roommate was tempted to practice her English on me (she never was…).

While my German-speaking husband would love it if we had an English-Free zone in our house (hehe, I’m totally rusty), I somehow convinced him to instead make our bedroom a phone-free zone. It took quite a bit convincing, but we finally managed to do it. For one month, no phones of any sort were allowed to enter our bedroom-at all. And honestly, it was the best thing we could have done - especially since the month we chose was an extremely busy one (you’ll read why in a few paragraphs).

I thought that today I would share what happened during this experiment. At first, I was not sure what exactly to expect, but everything I experienced was extremely positive. Spoiler alert: I’d do it again!

Creating a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

 

Phone alarms could still be heard outside the door. The predominant argument that was brought up when I suggested a phone-free bedroom was that my husband uses his phone as an alarm clock. Now, alarm clocks are quite inexpensive and not hard to locate, but for whatever reason, we opt to use our phones instead. I’m more or less a minimalist - I get it - so I suggested just laying our phones outside the door. Guess what? We could still hear the alarms in the morning. Besides that, one was forced to physically get up if they wanted to hit the snooze button. Helped the waking-up process a tad anyway since you were that much closer to the bathroom. I actually use a silent alarm on my Fitbit because I wake up so early, so this was not a huge issue for me.

 

Pillow-talk replaced pre-bed scrolling. I suppose I should mention that on top of eliminating phones from our space, we also agreed to go to bed at roughly the same time (which was a real feat!). Instead of the usual [mostly mindless] scrolling and not talking to each other before praying together and drifting to sleep, we were actually able to talk and tell each other about our days. It was nice to connect in this way, as we are both extremely busy people. There would be weeks during the school year where we would go days without seeing each other or speaking much (the pastor-teacher combination is not really the most ideal at times). This really helped us to be grounded at the end of the day and to not waste any time.

 

Our space became special. Because we were not letting distractions from everywhere imaginable into our room, it almost seemed like a more special place. A place where the outside world could not get in. A place of refuge from the interruptions and the noise. I’ll add a note here that our phones were not allowed in at any time of the day, so it was always nice and still! I thought that I would miss listening to music or podcasts while sitting in bed, but I really didn’t. I had the rest of the day for that, so it was a nice way to wind down.

 

I started to read [print] again. Without the temptation of a phone on my bedside table, the pile of books I had been intending to read started getting shorter and shorter. I decided on a few that I was not interested in, and picked up some really great reads! I was able to actually re-house a few of them back in my bookshelf. I also felt kind of fancy reading or browsing magazines in bed. Am I the only one who feels fancy when doing this? Perhaps you shouldn’t answer that…

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

Honestly, after the month was up and phones came back into the bedroom, I was mostly disappointed. While I do try to be more intentional about not letting it take over, I do want to go back to making a phone-free zone again. It’s easy to fall back into the mindless scroll trap and lose time you will never ever get back.

All in all, it’s nice to set aside the device after using it all day. It’s a fantastic way to end each evening.

 

 


I’d highly recommend this experiment to anyone! I’d love to hear how it goes for you!


 

Minimalism Essentials

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

In the wise words of Helen Keller:

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Although we live in an era when consumerism and all things fast and instant have taken over the world, there are still those who want to be more with less. It may sound depressing, but let’s look at it as an opportunity, instead!

This is our chance to overcome all the trendy cravings and enjoy true diversity of life without the need to possess. So, in an effort to make things simpler, the following list can be your own little to-do on your journey to becoming a minimalist!

 Photo by  Yoann Siloine  on  Unsplash


A Decluttering Mindset

Yes, spring is your go-to time to empty those drawers, donate those shoes and jeans, but in order to enjoy a simpler life, decluttering should be more of a permanent mindset. A way of being, if you will. Instead of constant hoarding, which is yet another consequence of consumerism, do your best to give and share. What may be just another pair of socks to you can be someone’s lifesaver during a cold winter day!

Do your best not to constantly postpone decisions for later. That’s how we end up keeping an excess of things which we don’t need and we don’t use at all. If it has a purpose, or even several of them, preferably, keep it! If it sits idly in your home, ditch it!

 Photo by  Alex Loup  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

Decorate with Meaning

There’s a common misconception that a minimalist home is void of all personal things, and contains very few furniture pieces. Of course that you should pick your furniture according to purpose, but it’s no reason to keep character and charisma out of the process! In fact, in a minimalist home, those items that have the most emotional and personal value truly get to stand out, as there will be no clutter to suffocate their meaning.

If it was a gift from someone you cherish, or an item with a deep spiritual meaning for you, by all means, keep it, make it the focal point of your home! Add color and texture, play with styles, but don’t stuff your room just because.

 Photo by  Chua Bing Quan  on  Unsplash


Slow Down Your Style

Fast fashion is one of the cornerstones of consumerism, and as such, it deserves to be banished from our look-books for good. It’s great if you want to refresh your wardrobe with an occasional new item that is a reflection of your personal preferences, but we still haven’t seen anything defeat the little black dress in the quest of elegance.

The same goes for other multifunctional pieces such as the Birkenstock Arizona sandals, which are considered a staple of comfort-wear, and a timeless classic among footwear. Go for durable, long-lasting items, not just in terms of trends, but also in terms of quality, so that you can wear your stylish clothes for years on end!

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


Simplify Your Menu

Another common item on the list we tend to complicate is our eating regime. We buy so many products that are disguised as quick and easy, such as pre-prepared meals, and a whole slew of processed snacks. They might be fine as an occasional indulgence, but in order to lead a healthy, simple life, we should nourish our bodies with whole foods with minimal processing.

Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in their natural form are the best possible sources of vitamins and minerals that sustain our immune system and protect us from diseases. Add to that lean sources of protein, and you can easily mix and match a versatile menu without resorting to overly-processed foods laden with chemicals.



Invest in Sustainable Self-Growth

Curiosity and learning are the basis of progress, however, the means to an end should matter as much as the end itself. If you’re an avid reader, which is an exceptional quality you should nurture within yourself, you can still continue to expand your library without actually buying physical books. Instead, you can get an e-reader such as Kindle that uses e-ink, it stores around two thousand books, and it’s an excellent choice for reducing eye strain.

You’ll be able to help save the environment, as this is a far more sustainable way to expand your library than to support deforestation for the purpose of printing.

 Photo by  Leo Manjarrez  on  Unsplash


Finally, it’s vital to remember that there is no minimalist template that fits us all. You should strive to find your own, keep your mind open, and find the best possible ways to simplify your life, help preserve our planet, and enjoy your existence to the fullest!

 

Claire is a blogger and a Bachelor of Design from Brisbane, Australia. She is an aesthetic lover focused on meaningful living. She writes about fashion, art and consumers' habits in order to encourage her readers to live sustainably.


 
Minimalism Essentials | www.maplealps.com