Monday, 6 May 2013

Frugal and fun ideas for nights in with your chummies

I used to spend a fortune going on nights out, to the cinema, for meals, etc. I still do this about once a month as a treat (not so much the nights out bit, I get horrendous hangovers now I’m a bit older!) but I also socialise a lot at home now. To be completely honest, some of the funniest/most memorable times I've had with my friends over the past few years have been at home! Not convinced? Here are a few suggestions: -

Make your own cocktails

Instead of going out to a snazzy bar, why not make your own cocktails? Look for recipes online and give it a try! Aldi and Lidl do delicious cheap own-brand versions of Baileys, Archers, etc. Not only does this idea save money but it gives you and your friends something fun to do too!

Take turns to cook each other dinner

This is such a simple and well-known idea but sometimes the oldies are the goodies! You don’t have to literally take turns; if you cook for your friends they’ll normally repay the favour one day (or if they’re lazy they may even take you out for a nice meal, bonus)! I’m not talking about spending loads of money and cooking a three course meal. Just make a nice simple home cooked meal. Your friends might even be nice and bring cake or wine! This idea is so much cheaper than going out somewhere for a meal, and it’s a lot more sociable! [I stole this idea from my boyfriend because he does this a lot and it always goes down well; I'm a bit too nervous about my cooking skills to cook for lots of people myself].

Have a picnic-style lunch

I would say ‘go for a picnic’, but the weather’s not often nice enough in this country! If you do get to go for a picnic then yay, but you can also have a picnic at home. Buy some nice fresh baguettes/crusty bread rolls, some continental meats and cheeses, arrange it all nicely in the centre of a table and you and your friends can help yourselves. You might think this is really expensive but a) It’s a lot cheaper than going to a cafĂ© and b) Aldi and Lidl do some lovely continental meats and cheeses for less than you’d pay at other supermarkets. My favourite bargains are Mozzarella for 44p and freshly baked bread rolls at 75p for 5 (both Lidl). I bought all this (serves 3 people) for £5.16!

Continental-Style 'Picnic': Bread Rolls 75p for 5 (20p each), Mozzarella 44p, Babyleaf & Rocket Salad 79p, Milano Salami £1.49, Italian Prosciutto £1.49 (Lidl)

Have a board game night

I realise this suggestion might not be for everyone, but my friends and I are obsessed with playing board games these days (hooray for my sister Alice for getting me into board games)! We've got really into it over the past year or two, mainly because we can’t afford to go out as much as we used to. It’s great fun and free (even if you get in some tasty nibbles and wine, it’s still loads cheaper than going out anywhere). Of course, if you don’t own any board games already, there’s the initial cost, which can be up to a hefty £30, but you could try going halves with housemates if you share a flat/house with someone, or ask for a board game for your birthday/Christmas. I've certainly got my money’s worth out of my board games (and most of them were presents anyway)! I recommend Articulate* (definitely good for socialising), Carcassonne, IngeniousTicket to Ride and 7 Wonders, but you can find plenty of old-school board games for a couple of quid in charity shops. Can't be bothered scouring the charity shops and don't want to invest in a pricey board game? Try Mini Articulate (£4.99) or Yahtzee (£7.12), and there are always plenty of games to play with playing cards!

*all links and prices are for Amazon

Watch DVDs instead of going to the cinema

This is a well known suggestion but I don’t know why people don’t do it more often; your sofa is probably a lot more comfy than a cinema seat, you can wear your pjs, and there are no annoying teenagers sat in the back playing on their mobiles! Plus, you're not tempted to buy expensive cinema snacks (you can buy loads of ice-cream and snacks from the supermarket instead, for a fraction of the cost). I know what you’re thinking ‘Hannah, you still have to buy the DVDS!’ but not necessarily; I mostly just borrow DVDs from my friends and family (I normally ask them first…)

Have a pampering session

Paint each others' nails and do face-masks (which you can pick up for £1). It sounds really cheesy but I did this a couple of years ago and it was actually a really good evening! 

I sadly had to crop myself out of this picture as I looked like a thumb!

One last thing...

My final suggestion is a bit odd but why not spend no money at all and just have a good old-fashioned catch-up!? Why do we always feel the need to go out somewhere or plan an elaborate night in when we meet up with our friends? If it’s a close friend you haven’t seen for a while, forget making plans for your night in, you’re probably not going to be interested anyway, because you’ll be too busy talking/laughing your heads off! This is something I've realised now I see my friends less (because they’re all scattered across the country now); sometimes there’s just no entertainment needed!

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