Girls' Night In

by Catharine Lorentz

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My friends and I regularly enjoy one night a week together to catch up and share each other's joys and miseries. We used to do this at restaurants until it became clear that it was straining all our budgets. Dinner at a restaurant was costing about $30 each including wine and tip, sometimes more. Something had to change.

Our solution? Girls' Night In! All six of us take turns hosting at our houses. The hostess of the evening is responsible for everything. Depending on schedules we either have dinner or hors d'oeuvres.

If dinner is served, it is usually a simple pasta marinara. Spaghetti for six can be prepared with bread and salad for under $10. Decent wine for six can be had for $20. We pull out the nice tablecloth, dishes, and wineglasses, and all of a sudden we are dining in style. After dinner, we either have extended conversations, or play a board game. Both of these are highly entertaining and free!

When we are just having hors d'oeuvres, a board game is the focus of attention. A bowl of peanuts, a plate of cheese and crackers, and a homemade vegetable tray with carrots, celery, cucumbers, and dip can easily be arranged for $10. The wine remains the same at about $20.

One unforeseen benefit of this new tradition is that the meals we share together now are healthier than the ones we got at restaurants, and they usually taste better.

Now, instead of spending $30 each per week for dining out together, we enjoy each other's company for about $20 a month, and the hostess usually has leftovers to enjoy the next day. These savings can be translated to $100 each, or $600 a month total. It is so easy, and the savings are substantial. This arrangement also works well because the nights can be traded around if one of us does not have an extra $30 in one particular week. The games we play have turned out to be much more fun than a night at a restaurant, our friendships are stronger, and our wallets are fatter.

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