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Hosting a summer soiree that involves alcohol can add up. Even though etiquette dictates your guests arrive toting something to sip, as the host you must always have enough beverages on hand.

A few simple moves can keep your special-occasion costs down. Serving a specialty drink made with one or two types of hard liquor, for example, instead of offering an extensive menu of choices will help you stretch your dollar. Pomegranate martini anyone?

Consider this: a 750-millilitre bottle of wine will pour six glasses, while a 26-ounce bottle of vodka will serve 26. That's four times the drinks! If you're looking at comparable prices for similar-sized bottles, then hard alcohol is clearly your best bet. Plus, for casual party situations there is no need to be a brand snob. For most people, vodka is vodka is vodka - especially when it comes to mixed concoctions.

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If you opt for vino, consider serving sangria, which can be made with inexpensive reds or whites. Free recipes for this festive and fruity drink can be found on your favourite search engine.

And the next time you hit the liquor store to stock up, inquire about the best value before wandering the aisles. It's always worth asking the experts.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at globeinvestor.com.

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