Frugal Ways to Spend Time with Friends (and Still Have a Blast)

Last weekend we went on a short trip to meet some old college friends. We go back a long way. We have known each other from the times we had to work at local diners to make ends meet, or photocopy segments of textbooks when we couldn’t afford to buy any, or eat ramen noodles for lunch every day of the week! It’s a very comfortable gang of friends to hang out with, and while we have a blast, we usually don’t end up spending too much. Here are some ways we keep cost down.

Potluck Dinners
There are several foodies in our gang. We love to eat good food. And we love variety. Since it is a fairly big gang (5 couples), we usually have a potluck at least on one of the weekend evenings. Everybody gets a dish or two. The effort and the cost is about the same as cooking for just ourselves, but when everyone chips in, it suddenly turns into a grand feast. We don’t do any elaborate planning, but do coordinate loosely to ensure that everyone doesn’t bring similar dishes. Everybody also gets some beverages – those who drink, bring beers while those who don’t, get some soda. In summer when the weather is good, every one brings some marinaded meat/veggies and we have BBQ cook-offs. It’s an amazing way to spend a lot of time with friends without one person spending all the time cooking or, all of us spending a lot of money to eat out.

Movie Nights
While we were students, we would get video tapes and watch at home. Now that we all work, we have upgraded to DVDs :) Some times this follows the potluck dinners, and sometimes it is a stand alone movie night with everyone getting some chips or popcorn. If you pick the right sort of movie, a movie nights with friends can be amazing. If it is just us gals, then most certainly end up getting a chick flick – ‘coz when we are with the guys we always get vetoed on that. Another of our favorites for girls’ night out, has been to watch “sex and the city”. It’s amazing how much commentary you can have going on in the background and the conversation after the movies is always great! If it is the full gang, we usually get something humorous so we could crack jokes and have fun, or controversial so we can argue all night long :) And almost always, we get 2-3 movies, so there is at least one movie everyone will agree on and it will click.

Card Games & Charades
This one never gets old. I am pretty sure some day we will all be in our fifties and we will get together for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and after the dinner and the conversation, someone will pull out a pack of Uno or Poker and we will play into the wee hours of the morning :) When we barely knew each other, it was a little awkward putting out a pack of cards or board games and starting to play. Some nights, we have quit after only a few games because it didn’t “click”. Some board games (e.g. clue) will work for small groups but as the group grows, the game just doesn’t cut it anymore. And some nights (usually when everyone is too drunk), you just can’t have thinking games like poker. On such nights we play charades until people start crashing out :) You just have to try out different things until you find out what works for your gang.

Play some sports or go for a hike
While we were in school we used to have a great student rec center. So during the day we would usually go out and enjoy some (very) competitive sports. The guys would keep strict score and would rag each other about every single point scored. It really helps build the camaraderie. When the weather is good, we would just pile into a couple of cars and go to the closest lake for a nice long hike (usually followed by a cook off to replace all those calories we just burnt :) ). It is a great inexpensive way to spend an entire day with friends, while getting some exercise at the same time. These days when we meet, the guys go out for a few games of tennis or racket ball (sometimes golf, but that doesn’t count as frugal), while we gals usually go shopping :) We don’t generally buy anything over the top (we actually discourage each other from buying expensive stuff by swapping stories of the best deals we got), and all that walking around in the stores, still constitute some exercise :)

We do sometimes go out for other more expensive options such as bowling or watching movie in a theatre or eating dinner out etc. But not only do these options cost more money, they also have a time limit on them. When we were students, we avoided these activities due to lack of funds. When we started working, we overindulged in these more expensive options for a while. But as time went by, we all seem to have come to an unspoken agreement that it doesn’t really matter. We are now spread across three different cities and it is quite infrequent that we all get together for a weekend. So, when we do, we squeeze out fun from every minute and, we have realized that having a blast doesn’t necessarily require a lot of money!

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Golbguru said...

"And some nights (usually when everyone is too drunk), you just can’t have thinking games like poker. " LOL ! that's almost every night when friends come together. :)

ispf said...

LOL. I guess that explains why I am such an expert at charades :)