It’s a fact of life: With each passing year, we get older and our lives change. The “life of the party” at 23 is now a mom of three at 33. Your bar buddy at 26 is now a successful mover and shaker at 36. And that world traveler at 34 is now back home taking care of her sick mother at 44.
With life changes, new families, adult responsibilities and expenses, finding activities to do with friends that accomodate each situation isn’t always easy. But there’s one thing that will likely be a big hit with any group of friends: fun, creative, money-saving ideas that allow you to enjoy time together.
Aside from the traditional potluck and movie night, here are five activities that allow you to spend quality time with friends, while also being kind on your wallet.
1. Host a Fix & Freeze
Invite your friends over, pick a meal, and make it together. The idea is to make several batches so there’s enough for everyone to take some home to their freezers. Not only will you save money by buying in bulk and splitting the cost of ingredients (especially on items you only need a smidge of, like spices), but you’ll enjoy the convenience of easy-make meals in the near-term. Plus, when your cooking duties are finished, dinner’s already taken care of!
To kick things up a notch, challenge your culinary skills by opting to cook foods that you might not be brave enough to tackle alone, like ravioli, tamales, and spinach pie.
2. Throw a [Insert Brand Here] Party
If you want to throw a party, there are many companies out there that want to help. It’s a win-win. You and your friends get freebies, coupons and first-looks, and the companies get an audience of fans to put their products in front of, potentially creating brand loyalty and sales.
Some companies list their party opportunities right on their websites, others may respond with offers when you send feedback or fan mail, and still, others pair up with sites like HouseParty.com to advertise upcoming events.
3. Team Up on Sitter Duties
Every parent enjoys a night out amongst adults. If your closest pals have children, consider taking turns looking after each other’s kids for the night. Head out for a night on the town with another couple, while the third couple stays at home with the children. Next switch it up, so you’re each taking a turn.
Or, if you don’t like the idea of one couple missing out on the fun, consider having a budget-friendly evening at home with friends and sticking the kids in a separate area with a babysitter. You’ll save money by collectively going in on a single sitter and you’ll get a chance to act like a kid with your friends.
4. Get Outside!
When you were a kid and your mother would tell you to turn off the tube and find something to do outside, she knew what she was talking about. Turns out, nature is cheap. Here are a few frugal ideas for spending time with friends outside of the house:
Photo Walk: Take a walk down a nature trail or downtown with friends and take photos of interesting things you see together.
Scavenger Hunt: This one can be fun to do with the kids or just with the adults. Put together some clues, break into teams, and get’a’huntin’!
Volunteer with Pals: Pick a favorite charity, get to work, and feel good doing it.
Free Concerts in the Park and Neighborhood Festivals: Enjoy what your community has to offer.
5. Host a Potluck of a Different Flavor
Get creative and add a money-saving twist or theme to the traditional potluck. Maybe each friend is responsible for bringing a dish that costs under $10, or perhaps you ask friends to bring their liquor cabinet leftovers, or maybe you host a dinner party where the main ingredient of each dish must have come from the pantry. While regular potlucks are typically fun and inexpensive, adding an even more frugal spin will keep things interesting.
Ann-Marie Murphy is the Community Builder for Quizzle.com, an online service that provides free and easy ways to manage your home, money, and credit — all in one spot. She pairs her experiences in financial services with her writing skills to help consumers better manage their personal finances.