It is so fun to spend a night out with a group of friends, and sometimes it’s important to just have a night out with the girls, or a night out with the guys. Dates are fun, and getting together with a friend one-on-one can be special too, but group nights can be really exciting. It’s important to find something that will entertain everyone in your group, and yet many of us don’t want to spend tons of money. Hopefully your friends won’t expect you to pick up the check just because you’re planning, but even paying for your share can be daunting if your group often does something expensive. Luckily, if you decide to take up the planning sometimes, you can avoid peer pressure spending pitfalls by finding an affordable activity for your group. There are many ways you can cut costs on group nights out.
1. Put together a theme night
Theme nights can work for guys or girls, and can be fun and affordable. Plan an event around a particular theme. For example, if you have friends who are in a book group, consider reading a book together and then meeting to discuss it. Choose a particular genre each month, and then meet once everyone is finished. Depending on the type of book, everyone can bring a related dish (check out ideas for a mystery dinner on Pinterest.) If you are really into the book, or especially if there is a movie version you can watch together, consider dressing up as different characters.
If your group isn’t really into reading or dressing up, you can still host a dinner party with a specific theme, or host a party related to a specific celebration (here are some great Mardi Gras party ideas.) Hosting the party rather than going out can save you money.
2. Host a sports night
As fun as going to a game can be, hosting a sports night at your house can be a lot of fun too. If you have friends who like the same team you do, you can all get together and root for that team. Even if your friends like an opposing team, get together for the big game where your two teams are playing each other. Rivalry and competition can be a lot of fun sometimes, and you can even throw in a friendly bet if you want to. Include food in your get together to ensure success, and consider adding to the competitive spirit by encouraging guests to participate in a chilli cook-off or other fun food game.
3. Stay local
Obviously, you will save money if you watch a professional sports game on television instead of going to the actual game, but you can also meet in the middle by attending a game for a local team. Minor league baseball, hockey, or a college game will usually be much less expensive than a professional team. You may not have the same enthusiasm for the teams playing, but attending these games as a group can be a fun and affordable way to have a night out.
You can also save money by seeing local productions of plays. If you live in a big city, you might not save money on the activities, but you will still save money on travel expenses. Summer can be a great time for local theater. Many cities have Shakespeare festivals or other play festivals.
4. Get takeout
If your group really enjoys restaurant food, pick a restaurant where each of you can order your own takeout and then bring it somewhere. You can either get together at someone’s house, or you can bring your food to a park or other central location. When you eat at a restaurant, you often spend more because you order drinks, appetizers, and pay for the tip. Taking your food with you will remove some of the usual restaurant impulse buys as well as the gratuity part, and will also stop you if you tend to compete with your friends when spending money. You can order ahead, or only bring the amount of money that you want to spend with you. Getting together outside of a restaurant can also provide more opportunities to talk loudly, laugh, and so on. If you’re looking for something new, consider each ordering a different appetizer and sharing it.
If you are really set on eating at a restaurant, go on a night with drink or appetizer specials. Many restaurants have nights where they have half priced appetizers or drinks.
5. Have a game night
Games aren’t just for kids; whether your group likes party games, classic word games, trivia, or card games, game night can be a great way to socialize and get to know your friends even better. If you host the game night, ask each guest to bring their favorite game, and vote to see which games you play (or play them all if you have time.)
Poker nights can be fun too, but you will have to be careful about how much you spend. You can always set a maximum and then just play for fun once the money is spent. Include light snacks if you want. You can also combine game night with other fun activities, like an impromptu wine tasting party (each guest brings a different wine.) Each guest could also bring a few beers from a different country, so that you could each sample beers from across the world.
There are many other ways you can save money on a night out with your friends. The most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t actually have to be a night out to be a night away — it can be a night in, too.