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Budget-friendly ideas for creating an impressive entertaining space

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Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Thu Jan 16, 2014.

(BPT) - Each year there is a plethora of sports games, birthday parties and holidays to celebrate with friends and family. Now is the ideal time to create an impressive entertaining space in your home – one that you will be proud to share and truly enjoy throughout the year, whatever the occasion. The good news is, with a few simple strategies, it’s easy and affordable to create the perfect gathering area.

Just imagine the memories your family will make snuggled on a plush new couch reading stories, or cheering their favorite soccer or football team to victory while watching a new flatscreen TV. You can set the stage to make a lasting impression by preparing your home now for guests. Here are easy ways to upgrade your space, and your electronics, without busting your budget.

1. Freshen furniture

Whether guests stay for a few hours or a few days, you want them to be comfortable. Having adequate furniture is key. If your current couch and recliners are more shabby than chic, it’s time to upgrade. New, plush furniture can be within your budget with lease-to-own alternatives.

2. Accessorize

One of the most affordable ways to give your family room a facelift is by strategically adding a few new decorative accessories. Whether you just got a new couch or want to update your current furniture, new pillows, throws and blankets are perfect for keeping guests toasty warm no matter how low the temperatures drop.

Pillows are great for lounging and, when you’re hosting a large group, can be used on the floor to keep everyone comfy. A few good blankets – whether in a festive shade to celebrate a particular holiday or the hues of your favorite sport’s team – add a splash of personality while keeping guests cozy.

3. Electronic entertainment

Setting the scene for the perfect party is easy when you have the right entertainment prepped beforehand. Start by having some music ready to get everyone in a festive mood from the moment they arrive. From traditional family favorites to modern tunes, music sets the tone when softly played in the background during the party.

Your TV should be center stage, offering guests access to the big game, classic movies and much more. To really impress loved ones, a new flat screen TV is sure to “wow.” The entire family will enjoy fun entertainment options like an Xbox 360, Blu Ray DVD player or Smart Home Theater.

4. Rethink the arrangement

Before guests arrive, consider rearranging the rooms where people will congregate for optimal function at your party. Think about how guests will use the space and place furniture accordingly. Cluster seating together to encourage conversation, and face the main pieces of furniture toward a focal point, like the TV. By keeping flow and function in mind as your arrange the area, you’ll better define the space and maximize its potential use.

Food is often a part of celebrations and, whether you’re serving up game-day appetizers or traditional hors d'oeuvres, make sure it’s easy for your guests to grab snacks and go. Set up an appetizer table using affordable and convenient food prep tools, like slow cookers, to keep food hot and delicious. Guests will gobble up your dishes as they mingle and enjoy themselves.

A good host knows preparation is key to a memorable party, so start today to ensure your home is ready for all the upcoming celebrations. To learn how you can create an impressive entertaining space with budget-friendly ideas, visit www.aarons.com/budgetfriendly25.

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

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