The Perfect Host: How to Throw Your First Dinner Party

The first time you throw a dinner party, you’re most likely going to ask for a bit of help. It depends on the number of guests, of course, and how complicated you’d like it – if you only invite your closest circle, they’re probably not going to mind it if you mess up a bit. Step it up a notch and host a dinner party for your in-laws, however, and the kitchen seems awfully hot all of a sudden.

 

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Don’t sweat it; here is a handful of the best advice on the dinner menu, drinks, and entertainment, to wow your guests for good.

 

Preparations: Invitations

 

Make it as easy on yourself as possible since it’s your first time. Start with inviting the guests you’d like to dazzle – and make sure it’s a group that will get along. A quick phone call is enough, or you can make the event on Facebook if you’re inviting a lot of guests. That way, they get the chance to RSVP, and you can update them all at once if you have a message.

 

This is also the chance you get to ask about any food allergies and vegetarian preferences. Hopefully, your guests will offer to bring something with during this conversation. Accept it immediately, unless you’re excited about showing off your culinary skills. Besides, an extra side dish or two is hardly going to overshadow your centerpiece cooking.

 

Preparations: Dinner Menu

 

Planning the dinner menu is also a part of the preparations, and you’d want to put your cards on the dishes you’ve cooked the most. You might have found inspiration for this party from a particular dish you’ve never cooked before; go ahead and serve it, but make sure you’ve cooked it once or twice before to practice. Half an hour before dinner is no time to realize how easy it is to burn a mushroom risotto.

 

Focus on dishes you know well and make sure it’s something on the table that everyone can enjoy. Do as much as the preparations in advance as possible, so that you avoid all the chopping and pre-cooking on the day of the party.

 

Two or three varieties of drinks should be offered to your guests. It’s a good idea to ask people what they like; if most of the group only drinks grain alcohol or standard beer with every meal, there is no point in stocking up on different wines. If you’d like to keep it formal – for the fun of it, try to serve drinks as they should be served according to table etiquette. Here is a comprehensive guide to formal dinner parties if you’re interested.

 

Hosting: Greeting and Socializing

 

You’re the one who sets the atmosphere at the party, so prepare to be fun and cheerful. Greet the guests in a casual and relaxed way; it’s nothing wrong with welcoming them in your slippers or even barefoot to put them all at ease.

 

When you manage to stay stress-free, focus on having fun and socialize with your guests, there’s nothing that can go wrong. Even if a few of the dishes are less than what you hoped or the kitchen is full of smoke, you can just laugh it off and make sure the rest are enjoying themselves.

 

Good music, drinks, something to eat and a lively host is everything they need to have a good time; you only need to ensure the conversation flows smoothly and that people have what they need. It’s your duty, so to speak, so pour yourself a glass and look forward to a fun evening.

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Are You Ready For The Ultimate Road Trip Adventure?

We’ve all thought about packing our things up in the car and taking off on an adventure at one stage or another. But while the thought of an impromptu weekend away may sound perfect, an organized trip will almost certainly take things to the next level.

 

You’ve saved up your money. You’ve taken two weeks off work. And now you’re ready to put the wheels in motion for what could be the trip of a lifetime. What are you waiting for?

 

Let’s kick this baby into overdrive.

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Roads Winding Road Trip Road Trip

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Preparing Your Transport

 

Arguably the best thing about taking an epic road trip is that you can marry your love of a great vacation with your love of driving. However, it’s imperative that your vehicle is prepared for the long drives ahead. Not least because you will be entering unfamiliar territories.   

 

In addition to checking the car’s health, it’s often worth investing in a Sat Nav and a dash cam. If you plan to travel with the whole family, keeping kids occupied with an in-car DVD can have a huge impact too. There’s more to a road trip than driving alone, but this is a crucial element. Get it right, and you’re already halfway to enjoying the perfect vacation.   

 

Plan, But Leave Room For Flexibility

 

Your road trip allows you to visit multiple places in a very short space of time. So if you’re going to utilize your time effectively, planning ahead is a crucial element. Otherwise, you could waste valuable time deciding on attractions to visit. Besides, there’s nothing quite as frustrating as missing a great opportunity through poor preparation.   

 

On the other hand, you never know when you might suddenly see an event that wasn’t promoted. Alternatively, you may get a chance to buy tickets to a big sporting event or music gig. Find the right balance between following a schedule and being spontaneous, and you will not go wrong.

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Pre-Book Accommodation

 

Throughout your journey, there may be times when a quick night stop in the motel will suffice. Likewise, many adventurers love the thought of sleeping under the stars and camping for at least some of the trip. Nevertheless, you will need a sense of comfort.

 

Just because you are on a road trip, it doesn’t mean you can’t spend a few days in one location. Cabin rentals are a great way to enjoy a short stay in luxury while having a great place to enjoy some family adventure before hitting the road once more. Moreover, a good night’s sleep will work wonders for the driver. If nothing else, having these elements in place will help you stick to the basic itinerary.

 

Be Prepared For Activities

 

Whether you’re traveling by car or RV, you should have ample space for packing key items. In addition to clothes and essentials, you should pack footwear designed for treks and other adventures. This one tip will open up a whole world of new adventures.

 

Specialist equipment for activities like rafting will be provided on site, so that isn’t a problem. As long as you pack torches, spare cell phones, and other key items, you’ll have nothing to fear. Above all else, the confidence gained from being prepared will allow you to seek far more enjoyment too. So strap in, the trip of a lifetime awaits.

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How Much?! Financing An Expensive Hobby

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Everyone has a passion in life. From stamp collectors all the way up to base jumpers, there’s any number of interests and activities that people live and breathe. However, some passions are a lot more expensive than others. If you, your child or your significant other is thinking of getting into a particularly expensive hobby, here are a few tips for managing your finances for it.

Make Sure You (or They) Will Stick with It

Okay, let’s say your husband had a round of golf with their friend, they took to it like a natural, and absolutely loved it. For the week after, they watch golf on TV, read golf blogs, and talk about it non-stop. While they may be genuinely interested, this isn’t quite enough justification to spend the household budget on a new set of clubs, pair of shoes, and anything else they might want. I’m not saying that you should step on anyone’s passion here, least of all your own. However, I am saying that you or your partner should take it slow in the beginning, and avoid spending a small fortune if they don’t know they’ll stick with it. Instead of a full set of clubs, get a few lessons at your local course.

Finding the Money

Pursuing an expensive hobby is all about learning to manage finances in order to meet the hobbyist’s needs and wants. The options you have open to you here depends largely on the hobby itself. For example, if your teenage kid is getting more and more into ballet, but the lessons and clothes are causing a serious strain on your money, then it may be possible for them to offer to clean the studio in exchange for lessons. On the other hand, if your husband wants to pursue classic car tuning, and they need to fund enclosed vehicle transport to get their baby to and from shows, they’re going to have very little wiggling room in terms of how much this will cost. In order to manage those finances properly, start off by writing out the costs, covering everything from equipment to lessons to clothing, and figure out how much you’d have to work in order to fund, say, a year’s worth of the hobby. This will put things in perspective, and allow you to make plans for sourcing extra income if needs be.

Make the Most of What You Buy

When it comes to gear for hobbies, impulse buys are always a bad idea, especially when you have perfectly good equipment. If your son wants to start playing guitar and you’ve got one lying around in the attic, then dig it out and learn everything you can about it. It may not be a Gibson Les Paul, but if it’s in a decent working condition then you can put off a brand new model for some time. In general, you should also learn something about maintaining the equipment in question. Re-stringing your own guitar is infinitely cheaper than what a lot of music stores charge for it!

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You Have No Excuse To Ever Be Bored Again With These Awesome Hobbies

In the modern world, the idea of being bored is, frankly, a little bit bizarre. There has literally never been more to do, see, hear or experience at any other point in human history. The problem is that it’s not that likely that everyone will want to do, see, hear or experience all of the same things as each other. In fact, plenty of people end up trying plenty of different things and getting bored. It’s only natural; human beings often find themselves switching from one thing to another. But what if you want to find something really interesting? Something you can really stick to and enjoy long term? Well for that, maybe you should try something just a little bit different. Here are three awesome and unusual hobbies that are sure to get you completely and totally hooked.

 

Trapeze

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Yep, you heard right, trapeze. Those death-defying swinging stunts you see at the circus. If you want the chance to turn yourself into the human equivalent of a ballistic missile, then there are plenty of classes available that can help you “catch” (sorry) the big for this incredibly exciting and addictive hobby. You’ll be amazed at the pace that a lot of these classes move. By the end of your lesson, you’ll be your first attempts at all of those incredible flips and tricks you thought only possible for the world’s top gymnasts! And don’t worry, there is always going to be a safety net so it’s actually a lot less dangerous than you might first thing.

 

Learn to fly

 

Perhaps you want to take to the air for some slightly longer periods of time? Well, then why not think about getting your pilot’s license? There isn’t a person alive who didn’t dream of being a pilot when they were a kid! Soaring high above the clouds and looking down at the earth is one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world, and it’s made even more so when you’re the one who’s in complete control. Soar Aviation offer a whole variety of classes going all the way from a free introductory trial to advanced flight classes. You really will believe that you can fly!

 

Zorbing

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Ever wanted to be a hamster? No? Well, you will once you get a taste of the ridiculous and ridiculously fun new craze that’s sweeping the globe. Zorbing is as simple as it is hilarious. You get inside a giant, squashy ball of transparent plastic and then you roll down a hill. That’s it! Well, that’s not quite it. Because the variation in the kind of riotous fun that you can have while Zorbing is actually pretty impressive. You can do it on your own, while some balls accommodate multiple people. Not only that but you can even use them on the water, which adds a whole extra layer to the hilarity that ensues from trying to remain stable while inside a giant hamster ball.

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PC Gaming Tech Just Got Serious: Here’s Why

For years, pundits have been prophesying the death of PC gaming. It’s too expensive, they said, and with the rise of mobile platforms, there simply isn’t a market for it anymore. And for a time, it appeared as if they were right. PC sales plunged, and continue to do so, and mobile form factors, like tablets and phones, took off.

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Wikimedia Commons

 

But in 2016, things looked a little less rosy in the mobile space than most imagine. We reached “peak smartphone” meaning that the market was mostly saturated, and tablet sales actually fell slightly. Meanwhile, the PC, long considered to be dead, was actually going through something of a renaissance. We saw the rise and mainstream adoption of some fabulous PC gaming technologies, including things like Adaptive Sync, high refresh rates, 4K and low-APIs, all making the experience on PC far superior to any other platform, including the consoles. PC gaming is the Rolls-Royce of gaming, and although console owners would never admit it, something to which they aspire.

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Pixabay

 

According to CNET, PC games sales are expected to reach a whopping $29 billion dollars this year, eclipsing the $28 billion worth of video game sales in the console market. And if the trends are correct, that gap will continue to widen further. It seems as if we’re looking at the end of the era in which people play certain games on certain platforms, as this list of PC games like Clash of Clans makes clear. People want to be able to access players across platforms, including the PC, in order to play with their friends online and to have the experience of their choosing. Why should users be forced to play a game on their tiny mobile screen, just because it’s a “mobile game” when they have an enormous gaming monitor sitting in their study? And why should people who shell out for VR systems be cut off from the rest of the gaming community in special VR areas? This isn’t what gamers want, and the industry is listening.

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Flickr

 

The problem for developers at the moment is the proliferation of the many ways in which people can play games. Just a few years ago, there were consoles and PCs. But now there’s VR, streaming TV devices like the Steam Machine and Nvidia’s new console, as well as all the mobile devices you can imagine.

 

Brian Blau, a researcher from the research giant, Gartner, says that this has played into the PC’s hands. He points out that often the only way to play the latest titles at high fidelity is to play them on the PC. The PC isn’t limited by size or space, unlike tablets, and so there’s physically more room for the high-end components to run games like The Witcher 3 and Ashes of the Singularity.

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Flickr

 

The PC is also the only platform on which to have a pleasant VR experience. Consoles simply don’t have the horsepower to deliver what we might call “presence” in virtual reality. It all means that PC gaming is getting serious again, and we might be about to go full circle, from PC to console and back to PC.

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Off The Grid: Three Fabulous Tech Free Activities

Does is ever feel like technology completely dominates your life? As if you can’t go thirty seconds without the beep of some gadget or another grabbing your attention. Not to mention the fact that most of us spend the majority of our days staring at screens. It can all get a bit… clinical feeling, not to mention claustrophobic. It’s easy to forget just how wonderful and fascinating the world around us really is. There are so many incredible things to see and do in the natural world that it’s a real shame we spend so much time staring at our phones that we miss them. Fortunately, that means that there is always the chance to get away from it all and enjoy some tech-free activities. Here are a few of my favorite ways to get off the grid.

Surfing

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You know what a major issue with a lot of gadgets is? Waterproofing. Anyone who’s ever dropped their phone in the bath and then spent hours with it sat in a bowl of rice will know that for certain. Luckily this turns out to be a blessing in disguise if you want a way to rid yourself of technological temptation. Surfing is one of the most fun and exciting things that you can do. Nothing makes you feel closer to the world around you than the smell of sea air and the refreshing splash of the waves. There are lots of different places to try surfing no matter what your skill level. And if you’re a bit afraid of getting up onto the board then you can try bodyboarding as well.

Hiking

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Now this one might take a bit of discipline because you can technically bring your gadgets along with you. But not only will that defeat the purpose entirely, but it’ll also burden you with extra stuff that you probably won’t want to carry for long. All you need to do is find a trail and get lost in nature. You might be tempted to snap some pictures for social media but why not just enjoy the sights. You’ll always have those memories, and they’ll look that much nicer when you’re not looking through a screen. Places like Big Bend hiking allow you to pick trails to suit your level and they all provide some incredible scenery. And the best thing about hiking? It’s free! Make sure you pack some decent boots, though!

Camping

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If you need a five-star hotel with room service, then you might want to look away now. Camping is just about the best way to get off the grid and back to nature. Sleeping on the ground with just a sleeping back underneath you and a tent keeping you safe from the elements. Cooking up beans in the can with nothing but the sounds of nature for company. There really is nothing like it! Now, of course, there are lots of campsites that offer more modern conveniences, like indoor toilets, if you don’t want to go completely rough. But for the full experience try to avoid bringing your gadgets along with you at all. After a while, you won’t even miss them anymore!

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Staying Safe While Gambling Online

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It wasn’t so long ago that gambling was seen as a somewhat sleazy activity. I remember the betting shops of old being a place of mystery, where you could never see inside. The change in public perception of gambling has been remarkable. You see and hear advertising on almost every sports event. Betting experts are regular guests on radio sports shows. And, heading to a casino is now something that is normalized.

Online gambling has also enjoyed a remarkable period of growth. There are thousands of online casinos where you can gamble on slot machines or at the poker table, against computers and real people.

But let’s not beat around the bush – gambling can still be problematic. And when you are gambling online, there are many opportunities to lose money. With this in mind, I thought I would scour the web for some of the best tips to ensure you keep gambling as a fun activity and avoid any issues of addiction. Let’s get started with some of the basics.

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Only bet what you can afford

While gambling can be a fun experience, there is nothing to laugh about when you lose a lot of money. It is essential, then, that you only bet what you can afford to lose. Only use the excess money, never start dipping into your day-to-day cash or savings. And if you fail, never try to regain your losses – the chances are you will lose even more.

Use reputable casinos and services

Gambling can be a lot of fun. But, let’s face it, it can also lead to a lot of heartache and financial issues. It is vital that you use an online casino that takes your safety seriously. As Maria casino points out in its responsible gaming policy, there are a few things to watch out for. They recommend using a service that allows you to set up deposit limits and self-exclusion settings on your account. And, if you feel that temptation is getting the better of you, always seek out help.

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Check your frequency

The more you gamble online, the easier it will be to fall into addiction. In an ideal world, you won’t use online gambling sites more than 2-3 times a week – preferably less. If you find yourself visiting sites a few times a day, it’s time to check yourself, as there is a chance you could be forming a habit.

Honesty is the best policy

If you are hiding your online gambling activity from others, the chances are that you have a problem. Addicts tend to hide their activity from those they know will disapprove. It rings true for smokers, drinkers, and gamblers alike. If gambling is fun, why hide it?

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Mix up your hobbies

Finally, you should also be concerned if your online gambling is the only hobby you partake in. It just isn’t healthy to focus on one particular thing, especially if it costs you a fortune. Online gaming can also be a lonely experience, so ensure you are getting out and seeing friends and family as often as possible. And if you feel like you have a problem, don’t be afraid to share the details with loved ones.

Sure gambling online can be a fun activity. But it doesn’t take long for your hobby to turn into a habit. Stay safe out there, folks!

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