Boost watery beer. Pour inexpensive canned or bottled brews into glasses, then add a dash of salt to up the flavor. (Not too much -- you'll end up with a frothy head.) Float a slice of lime, lemon or orange on top.
Be a liquor magician. You don't have to be a chemist to turn a throat-scorching vodka into a smoother affair. Just filter it through a water purifier, then serve in a glass bottle or carafe.
Fast-forward your wine. Transform a less-than-ready wine with the Perfect Sommelier ($40, theperfectsommelier.com). It uses magnets to alter wine's molecules, maturing a bottle in only 30 minutes. And with the amount you'll save on wine, the price tag pays for itself.
Show off your work. Don't hide home-baked cookies from view. Leave dessert out as a centerpiece by piling treats on tiered platters. Don't have stands? Just place a plate over an inverted glass bowl.
Borrow when needed. Lacking a food processor for pesto sauce or a blender for frozen daiquiris? Borrow missing kitchen equipment from a friend for the night, or get a castaway off craigslist.org.
Make hostess gifts earn their keep. If your guests come toting presents, use the leftover gift bags as decorative vase covers. Place a water-filled vase inside the bag, then trim the the stems to match the bags height.
Dish out napkins. For cocktail or impromptu parties, skip plates and set out plenty of napkins. Use lasting cloth ones or the lunch-size paper kind.
Let them fill up on bread. Pinky-up food gets a thumbs-down when you're feeding a hungry crowd. Serve satisfying dishes that pack a punch without sending you into debt. Carbs are inexpensive and always a winner alongside goodies like meats (thinly sliced), nuts (lightly toasted) and cheeses (extra smelly).
Our pick. Biscuit-Crusted Sausage-Egg Pie, with feta cheese and olives, has a buttery crust and a meaty, cheesy center. For a cocktail party, cut it into bite-size squares.
No need to spend a fortune on a new outfit. Instead, get some extra mileage out of your go-to party staples: Disguise repeat offenders using accessories from your closet.
Gals: Little black dress -- Sling on a wide belt in a bright color or pattern. -- Layer a vest or cardigan on top in a neutral solid or simple print. -- Drape a long, lightweight scarf evenly around your neck (it should fall slightly below your waist).
Guys: Button-down and slacks -- Add a skinny tie. (Yes, they're back in style.) -- Roll up your sleeves to just below your elbows and layer a graphic tee on top. -- Slip on a lightweight blazer.