Temperatures are rising, sundresses are prevailing, and patrons on a patio sipping cocktails make a pretty picture downtown.
The warmer months mean an uptick in social invitations for everyone. You’ve spent all winter inside and you’re ready to bust down your door and fill your lungs with the fresh, spring air.
We feel the same! But this Friday we decided to decline all invitations to head downtown for a food festival, and instead invited a couple over to cookout at our place. By not attending the food festival we saved money on marked up food and drinks, and the cost of parking!
We arranged that our friends would arrive around 7:00 pm and we would all prepare dinner together. We decided on a quick menu of steak kebobs with veggies. We split the groceries between us, each couple in charge of their own shopping. Each couple was also in charge of buying their own beer, wine, or liquor.
I ran to Aldi to acquire our share of the groceries, then hurried home to do some final cleaning before our guests arrived.
Just as the vacuum was tucked into the closet, and a candle lighted for ambiance, Ranger scampered to the door to let us know our guests were here! We cracked open our beers immediately and settled them into colorful coozies. In the kitchen the food prep went swimmingly as we had one person cutting the steak into chunks, two people washing and chopping veggies, and another preparing the grill, seasoning the food, and plating. We had music going on the speaker, and we played the Alphabet game where we all take turns choosing a song or artist that follows the letters of the alphabet. Food prep would have gone much faster if we hadn’t been dancing, joking, goofing off and having a great time in the kitchen. What can you do?
While S. grilled the kebobs, we did some quick cleaning in the kitchen, and afterward enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Including the cost of food and drinks, the evening cost each of us about $15.00.
For entertainment we had board games, the firepit going outside, and the baseball game on the television. We had all our bases covered to ensure no one was bored, but mostly we just talked and hung out, as often happens.
I’m so glad we decided to have our friends over rather them meet them for dinner at a restaurant. There are so many benefits to entertaining at home:
1. We all saved a truckload of money.
With a steak dinner, loads of veggies, and several drinks each, the meal came out to about $15.00 each. At a mid-scale restaurant, a similar dinner with that amount of drinks would have been $60 plus dining tax and tips, if not more. We also had leftovers that each of us kept that fed us for several lunches in the following days.
2. We got to hang out much longer.
We spent time before dinner cooking and were able to hang out long after the last dishes had been washed and loaded into the dishwasher. We cozied up to the fire as night fell, each of us running back into the house for more drinks, or a bite of dessert. We watched the whole baseball game and attempted to play some of the board games before dissolving into laughter.
3. More casual atmosphere.
Dining in a restaurant with friends is fun but hosting at homes means a much more casual experience. We were able to dress casually and comfortably, play our music loud, dance around the kitchen, and laugh hysterically without worrying about offending the next table over.
Is it practical to always stay in?
I know the answer to saving money with friends isn’t always to host a party at home. It’s just not practical that every social event in your life could take place at your home or a friend’s home. Inviting my office to our home for a happy hour would be weird or expecting that people won’t ever want to get a drink at a rooftop bar over the city or try the new Mexican food stand downtown is an impractical way to live your life.
I for one need to get out sometimes, but at the same time I hate spending money on dining out, particularly. I’m more apt to spend money on a concert, or a food festival than paying to have a sit-down experience at a restaurant. S. is a gifted cook who loves the art of making food from scratch. Often, we’ll go to a restaurant only to conclude that it could have been made just as well at home. Once you know how to cook a great steak, burger, or piece of fish at home, it’s really hard for a restaurant to top that while charging you five times what the same cut of meat costs at the store.
As far as heading to a bar, if you’re only going to be talking to the people you go with, why not stay home where you can choose the music and drinks are almost free?
I also want to mention that our house is quite small, but we were still able to host a great night. You don’t need a ton of space to host a fun evening for a few couples. Food, entertainment, and a fun attitude is all that’s needed. The next time you’re making weekend plans invite the group to your house, if they hesitate suggest having it at their house, which might be more enticing since they won’t have to leave their home!