Five fun, yet frugal ways to entertain friends at home

To keep stress at bay, you would need to relax, unwind, and hang out with friends. But with food, drinks and movie tickets in restaurants becoming more expensive every year, almost everyone can’t help but be budget conscious. And with the reality of paying off student loans or credit card debt, forget about taking trips and vacations to exotic places for now.

But have you ever considered that probably the most overlooked place to hang out and have fun could be your home? You may be renting a humble apartment with a roommate, or your first home after college may boast of just a few modest furnishings.

Still, you shouldn’t let that stop you from providing a welcoming environment where your friends can relax and enjoy themselves. If you don’t have a lot of fun things to do, here are five frugal activities:

(1.) Update your parlor games

Newspaper dance? Musical chairs? Pin the tail on the donkey? Do those games conjure up images of you and your playmates during your seventh birthday party? Well, it’s time to go through an “update” and find creative ways to inject adult-appropriate fun into your party games.

Two of the most popular “icebreaker” games that tend to reveal a lot about people are I have never___ and Would you rather ___ or___? They require very little equipment and can be played with as few as two or four participants.

For I have never ___Keep a pack of 4 “x 6” no-ruler index cards and several markers on hand. Ask each participant to get two cards and print “NEVER” on one card and “HAVE” on the second card.

As the host, come up with a dozen statements and write them down on a piece of paper. You can make them as interesting or controversial as possible, outrageous or incredulous, or even a little sassy.

And then read each statement out loud, and if it rings true for any particular players, they should show their “I HAVE” card. If they have never done so, they should raise their “NEVER” letter.

Here are some examples of revealing statements:

I have never ___

… pretended to be ill just to avoid a speeding ticket.

… I sneaked into an R-18 movie when I was a minor.

… embellished my credentials on a resume just to get a job.

… withdrew from a first date.

The game ends as soon as the last item on your list is read. This game is known to elicit a lot of laughs from players and even mild expressions of surprise.

Would you rather ___ or ___? It involves choosing between two options, which can be good and better, or bad and worse. Some examples are:

Would you rather ___

… get stuck on an island with your pesky boss or narcissist ex?

… be the tail of a lion or the head of a mouse?

… give up junk food for a month, or pizza for a year?

… spend $ 100 at a thrift store or Michael’s?

As the host, write a dozen two-choice statements on a piece of paper and read them out loud one by one. Have fun seeing which friends will choose each one.

(2.) Have a themed movie marathon

You may have friends who are movie enthusiasts, while others may be indifferent towards movies and would just like to spend time with you and your group. Why not download several movies with similar themes and enjoy a pleasant afternoon with your team?

Make a box of microwave popcorn and serve a variety of drinks: cola, lemonade, iced tea, etc. You can also buy huge bags of potato chips or nachos and browse recipes for dips.

Possible themes could be works by acclaimed directors, girls’ movies for women, Marvel movies, or some of the best Disney-Pixar deals.

(3.) Present a couple of card or board games for adults

Scrabble, Monopoly, Snakes ‘n’ Ladders, and Pictionary have remained popular with children throughout the ages. But for adults who want to get together, playing some of the latest card or board games can be a great alternative to dining out and drinking.

While buying a deck of cards or a set of board games can be expensive, there are now numerous games that can fit any budget. And according to the boardgamegeek website[dot]com, countless games are now marketed for specific niches and player interests.

You and your friends don’t need to limit yourself to Letters Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan. For starters, today’s millennials and young professionals may want to try #SocialStar, while pop music and trivia enthusiasts will end up delighted with games like 300 pop questions, 70s music trivia, and Game of the 80s.

(4.) Make it an exchange

Some of your friends may want to clean up clutter, get rid of their old stuff, and be open to getting second-hand things that are still in good condition. If you have multiple bookworms in your group, you can trade paperback editions of books, magazines, and even comics or graphic novels.

If they’re leaning toward the sporty side, they may want to swap golf clubs for a pair of tennis or squash rackets, or resistance bands and dumbbells for a basketball or volleyball.

(5.) Make it an art-focused activity

For this activity, you may need to ask your friends to contribute a little money, to stretch your budget for art supplies. Buy several sets of art-quality acrylic or watercolors (just get the basic 12-color set to cut costs), acrylic canvases, or a couple of packs of watercolor paper.

Beforehand, look for painting tutorials on YouTube. Don’t worry too much about producing something aesthetic, but make sure everyone puts in a little effort. When everyone is done with their masterpieces, get out your smartphones and take pictures.

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