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Dining, Entertaining & Celebrations

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Host a specialty spa party at home

The rising cost of consumer products or services has left many budget-conscious people at a loss as how to enjoy themselves, especially when planning a party. But fun does not need to be sacrificed in the name of frugality. Just recreate some of your favorite activities at home for a fraction of the cost of going out.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs estimate that the global skin care beauty industry is worth $24 billion, while the make-up industry is worth $18 billion. Haircare products generate $38 billion annually, and the $15 billion perfume industry is growing as much as 7 percent each year. Many people routinely engage in beauty and personal grooming procedures, including manicures, pedicures, massages and facials. As a result, the concept of hosting spa parties has become more commonplace. But instead of venturing out to expensive salons and day spas, a growing number of people are attempting to hold the party at home in an attempt to save money. These pampering parties have become quite the rage with both adults and young girls who want to experience the same amenities as their mothers.

Most homes can be transformed into relaxing oases where guests are treated to many different self-indulgent procedures. Here's how to hold your own spa party at home.

* Set the tone of the party by having pre-soaked and microwaved face towels set aside in a bowl to hand out to arriving guests. Keep the towels warm by covering the bowl in plastic wrap. Add a few drops of lavender oil when heating so that the towels smell fresh and invoke feelings of relaxation.

* Have a set amount of inexpensive flip-flops set up for guests to wear. Use a permanent marker to personalize the shoes with guests' names so that the sandals do not get mixed up with someone else's. You may also want to purchase terry cloth robes or wraps for the guests or request on the invitation that guests bring their own.

* Establish the mood of the event by investing in some New Age or relaxing instrumental classical music. Set up your mp3 player in an inconspicuous area of the room so that the music becomes part of the background and does not overwhelm guests. Candles are often an integral part of setting a relaxing scene. Keep lights dim and place scented candles in a sandalwood, lavender or vanilla aroma around the space. This will entice the senses of vision and smell.

* There are a few different options regarding who will perform the spa services on guests. If the number of people attending is small, you may want to do them yourself. Otherwise you can pair up guests to do them on one another, which is possible for manicures and pedicures. Think about setting up different spa stations around the room so guests can take turns treating themselves. Still, you can find out how much it would cost to hire one or two professionals to come into your home and perform spa services. This may be more comfortable if the party involves massages or facials. Check with a local cosmetology school to find out if students would be willing to service guests at your party. This may be a more affordable option.

* Create calming centerpieces of natural elements. This could simply be a small container with some catnip growing or a vase with water and reflective beads. Don't choose items that are too loud. You want the atmosphere to be quiet and calming.

* Provide light and refreshing snacks and beverages. Look to fruit skewers or small finger sandwiches. Choose non-alcoholic drinks like punches or sparkling waters, which won't dehydrate. Bite-size items work well so guests won't be hampered by dishes or cutlery.

* Provide guests with little take-away bags full of samples of the items that were used at the party. This way they can take home not only memories of a relaxing event, but continue the pampering at home.

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