So… ya know how you promise your readers a post you’ve been working on for ages, but then you have ADD and Bipolar II and so get sidetracked on something else entirely?
Or is that just me?
The plans are underway
I’ve been quiet because the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind:
- Making notes of projects I want dealt with before a party happens
- Starting to price compare materials and such
- Haunting secondary marketplaces to see if I can of making notes on what I’d need to have dealt with before I felt comfortable starting to throw proper parties.
- Actually doing my job (oh yeaaah, that)
- Staying (mostly) on top of adulting
- Doing a side overtime project
The to-do list is far from short, but my handyman is very reasonable on pricing, and the accents I’ve been wanting have mostly been pretty affordable thanks to my beloved Auction Nation.
So this post is a general update, about frugal upgrades and foremost how all signs point to the universe wanting me to host parties.
The irrefutable signs
Normally, the universe works in mysterious ways. But it’s been a little more direct lately.
A frugal boozehound
I spent about 10 minutes more than I needed to — may be even 15 — running the numbers in Fry’s liquor section. I couldn’t believe the number was really that low.
With promotional prices, coupons and Fry’s “25% off 6+ bottles of wine/liquor” deal, I got to look like a lush — but a frugal lush — at chekcout.
To quote my own tweet:
But wait — there’s more.
Ibotta gave me $2 cash back for each bottle of Skyy vodka. Fry’s gave me cash back for… the Smirnoff, I believe?
And Shopkick gave me 1,750 kicks just for buying a bottle of Skyy vodka. To translate, that’s about $7 worth of credit.
Granted, Shopkick only lets me redeem in multiples of $5. But even if we call it $5 cash back, added up that’s an additional $11 off.
Net outlay: $35.68 for seven bottles.
Crazily cheap barstools
My house isn’t huge. Most people will probably need to be outside. But I realized I could put out some barstools at the breakfast bar for more seating that didn’t take up too much room.
I poked around Marketplace and OfferUp listings and in less than an hour I found a great deal.
For context, in case you’ve never looked for barstools, even secondhand prices are just silly. Most start at $50 each if they’re halfway decent. I saw a niec-looking trio for $25 each, which is plenty reasonable. But I didn’t want to pay $75 overall.
Then I saw two of these stools for sale for $15. Not each. Total.
So yeah, kinda hard to see how the universe isn’t pushing me to be a hostess. (I’ll need practice for the “the mostest” portion, but gimme time.)
One extra sign
When Mom was here, she saw that I was keeping the booze over by the microwave.* suggested I look around OfferUp and such for a bar cart so I could have more counterspace. *
I don’t much need the room, but it’d be nice to not have a mini booze-a-palooza thing going on when people are over on normal occasions. Also, it’d sit nicely by the card table or two I plan to put up, freeing up space for whatever stuff other people bring.
The secondhand prices for carts/rolling baskets were (mostly) reasonable, but they were all too short or the baskets were too small or they didn’t have guardrails at all. And if I’m wheeling around a cart without something besides a shallow edge… I’m gonna end up with a large puddle of booze all over my floors.
I had done one Amazon search and didn’t find any at a price point I wanted. But a day or two later, I went back to order something mundane enough that I don’t remember. And there was a featured Lightning Deal for this cart.
It’s normally $40, but it was on sale for $25. So even with tax I only paid a bit more than $28.
And it looks great!
So the only logical conclusion is that I’m definitely supposed to host parties. Or that I read too much into things. But I like the first one better.
* It’s too much of a pain to get out and put away every time. Especially since I had accumulated something like 15 cans of White Claw.
Of course, those aren’t the only deals I’ve picked up.
A lot of the focus has been on making the patio/backyard more appealing for folks. So that required a few additions.
Patio seat cushions
I got a free patio table and four chairs from my tenant’s mom, but I didn’t realize at the time just how ridiculously prices patio cushions are — even secondhand.
Most cushions start at $20 each, but that means seat or back cushion. Some were a little cheaper, but for good reason.
Solution: So I started watching cushion listings on Auction Nation. After about a week and a half, I was able to nab four matching two-cushion sets for just $45.42 total.
The back pillow is a little short, but most folks will be wearing jackets and/or can turn the dang pillow sideways.
Backyard seating doesn’t sound like an issue when we’re talking about Phoenix. But you turn into a wimp after a few years, so I needed something that would make people more comfortable sitting outside.
Taking a cue from some other parties I’ve been to in the “cold” months, I decided fire pits were the way to go.
I have a big yard, so I decided two would be best. The auction site was filled with fire pit listings, so I got one for $21.86 and another for $18.75 for a total of $40.59.
Obviously, I’ll have to keep an eye out for free firewood ads, but it’s still a great deal.
The washer/dryer in my house are outdoors — which is good for not heating up the house. But…
Some previous owner had decided to hide the washer and dryer behind bifold doors. Which sounds smart, until you realize bifold doors aren’t made for exterior use, and those suckers just sit in the heat for six or so months a year.
So for 12 years, I’ve wathed the doors flake and peel up more and more.
I’m sure my friend with a truck would’ve gone to the ReStore with me and found some affordable one. But even that would cost probably $60 to $80 for the two large ones and another $30 for the small set on the left.
And in a few years, the same issues would start up.
So I got online to see what options I had. And was immediately hit with a jolt of “Why didn’t I think of this?” when I saw people using curtains.
and — why didn’t I think of this myself? — curtains.
I found two that I really liked, so I considered it for a few days before making a decision. And in those few days, coupons had been added: 30% off the item and a 10% off coupons, which inexplicably stacked together.
So instead of $18.98 — which is still a great price for a 72″ x 72″ shower curtain — to $11.39 plus tax.
(As an Amazon affiliate, I’m compensated for purchases made through clicks on links or Amazon-linked images on my site.)
The laundry area doesn’t really get any direct sun, so it’s more a matter of how the polyester does in the heat. And obviously, I’ll have to wash it from time to time because of all the dust.
Still, it’ll make the patio look bigger. And it’s just cool.
And if for some reason it does fall apart quickly, I won’t have spent much on the experiment.
For anyone wondering, this was the other one I was considering:
It’s an even better deal at just $9.99, but I liked the visual better.
Admittedly, I still have to find a curtain rod for the one I bought — probably just on secondhand marketplaces, though I’ll check prices at Ross and keep an eye on the auction site — plus a small blue curtain for the single bifold door area. I think I’ll snoop around some thrift stores for a single blue curtain (or a sheet, even).
There’s less to buy for inside the house, thankfully. But there were two notable deals that I believe prove that the universe really wants me to start throwing real shindigs (not just game nights)
I want to put some chairs in the spare room to give people more places to hang out. But I needed a floor lamp.
Alas, the ceiling fan light doesn’t work in there. Which is okay, really, because I don’t like the fan at all. So I may at least remove the three-light portion if possible. Eventually, I’ll replace the fan, but it’s not a priority.
Anyway, I found a cool-looking one on Auction Nation.
(Again, as an Amazon affiliate, I’m compensated for items purchased through my links and Amazon-linked images.)
It’s actually not my usual aesthetic. It’s one of those styles that I think looks great… in other people’s places. But would clash with the other decor/styles in my place.
But for whatever reason, I really liked this one. Enough that I paid $30 instead of the $25 I was hoping to spend. Then again, nowadays even thrift stores are charging $25 to $30 for floor lamps. Eesh.
Regular lightbulbs and CFL ones work with the lamp, but I figure go big or go home. So I’ll be buying a funky vintage-style bulb, adding noather $5 to $6. But oh well.
It’ll look cool and give good lighting for anyone at the party who wants to chill out in the spare room.
Lights switches and outlets
This brings us to the absolutely least necessary upgrades for party purposes: I want decorative light switches/covers and outlets/covers.
The deep green of my walls means that the white and beige light switches, outlets and wall plates stick out. Badly.
It’s bothered me for years, but there was always better uses for the money, since finding bronze-colored replacements (to match the current decor) would be the better part of $100.
But then I went on Auction Nation and paid $6.24 for 10 dark bronze light paddles. (Amazon price: $7.03 each.)
(As an Amazon associate, I’m compensated for purchases made with clicks on my links and linked images.)
So that’s a start. And my handyman won’t charge too much for get them switched out.
But still nothing for bonze outlets or wall plates. For the latter, I may just get some plates cheaply at a ReStore and finding matching bronze paint at Michael’s with a coupon.
The outlets aren’t actually that expensive, compared the other elements: $4.57 each, and they’d match the paddles exactly. But with six outlets, that’s still around $30 after tax.
So failing any outlet auctions in the near future, I’m going to try these outlet caps from Hampton Bay. They screw in over existing outlets and are only $2.99 for a four-pack. The color is pretty close to the paddles (which aren’t close to any outlets anyway). So it’s worth a shot.
But since most of my outlets aren’t three-prong, I’m not sure if they’ll fit correctly. Time will tell!
So yeah… That’s what I’ve been up to.
Oh, except that I’ve seen the guy from the Halloween party a couple of times. We have good chemistry, so we’ll see how things unfold. (As a plus, he has some handyman skills too. Maybe that’ll prove useful.)
Anyone else been gearing up for some style changes? Or party readiness?