One of the biggest possible downfalls of pulling your purse strings tight is that you may miss out on social events with all of your favorite people. It may take a little creative thinking to find new ways to spend time (instead of money) with those closest to you, but if you truly value your friendships, the brainstorming sessions will be well worth it. For me, eliminating face time with my best friends has never been an option. This is one of the reasons I became a founding mother of a Dinner Club that allows me and my friends to see each other on a regular basis while still letting me adhere the financial goals I have set for myself.
Dinner club is not an original concept, and I am certainly aware of the fact that I am not the first person to decide that meeting your girlfriends once a month to eat delicious food (and drink a questionable about of wine) is an amazing idea. However, I do like to believe that the way my friends and I have done it over the past year (they are still doing it without me—pausing to wipe tears off my keyboard now—since I moved over 2,000 miles away from them) is one of the most enjoyable and affordable styles out there. If you are looking for a comfortable, inexpensive, and hilarious night out with your girls, clubbin’ at the dinner table might be an excellent option for you!
Who Attends: A small group of your closest friends—the people you are always excited to see and never feel like you get to spend enough time with are the ones you should be eating dinner with. At our dinner club no one cares if you show up to dinner club wearing no make-up, sweatpants, and maybe even a hint of B.O. from your just-completed work out. Your time is valuable, and you don’t want dinner club or its attendants to bring any stress or wasted time into your life. If you are going to go clubbin’ do it with the right crew who you feel 110% comfortable with and 120% happy around.
Where do you Meet and Eat: This is where the money is saved and the stress is alleviated—the metaphorical meat and potatoes of dinner club! Dinner clubbing expenses decrease dramatically when the festivities occur in someone’s home instead of a restaurant. A glass of wine at a restaurant will cost as much as a bottle (or box) from the grocery store. Food markups at restaurants are also OUTRAGEOUS. Most restaurants have dishes in which the menu items are 100-200% more expensive than their original purchase price. And remember, if you are eating in public, you might need to brush your hair…
Our Dinner Club Secret Weapon: The secret to saving even MORE money is that we all take turns being the hostess with the mostest. Because we are not attending dinner club at an actual restaurant, we rotate through our list of “members” and take turns not only hosting—but cooking. This has actually turned out to be a pretty great method because depending on the size and occurrence of meetings within your dinner club, you will only have to cook one to two times a year. Spending $50-$75 on dinner supplies once or twice a year to feed all of your friends is going to be cheaper than spending $20-$30 once a month to dine at a restaurant with them.
Another great part of having one person responsible for cooking each time you meet for dinner club is that the meal will be cohesive and well planned without the extra stress of coordinating or calling dibs on dishes that often occurs when potlucks are the method of supplying food. Again you only have to be in charge of planning, buying, and prepping once or twice a year—the rest of the time, you are nothing but a guest and friend. Why would you do it any other way!?!?
What are some of your favorite recipes and/or inexpensive ways to stay connected with your friends?