As twenty-somethings, we often find ourselves frequenting the same happy hour spots or restaurants with friends, and as fun as it is to have a routine, things can eventually get a little stale (although I’ll never get tired of my favorite margarita place in NYC!). However, when searching for new spots, especially for meals, it can also be difficult to select a place that fits everyone’s budget, is located centrally, etc. I thought I would share a few of my favorite ideas for friend dates (and they can even be adapted to serve as date dates!) that are both fun and affordable (and yes, most of them pertain to food).
1) Make personal pizzas. Even your friend who would rather eat dirt than pick up a piece of Domino’s will be able to get behind this idea, since it’s much healthier and she’ll be able to pick exactly what goes on her pie. Grab ingredients (Trader Joe’s has a few varieties of pizza dough plus all of the fun stuff to go on top), and invite friends over to your place for a night of cooking. Friends can help offset the cost by picking up a few toppings or a bottle of wine for you all to sip on while the pizzas cook.
2) Have a wine and cheese night. Cheese platters at restaurants are often overpriced and poorly portioned, so make your own and let your guests pick a wine or cheese to bring. Don’t forget sides like crackers, grapes, apricots (always a big hit in my experience!) and even labels if you want to get cutesy (and allow guests to identify which cheese is which). This was a favorite get together of mine in grad school and is a great way to have people over without the stress of serving a full meal.
3) Set a standing date night. During my first internship in New York City, I lived in an NYU dorm that was located right next to both a 16 Handles and a Pinkberry (seriously dangerous because at the time I think I was the world’s biggest froyo addict!). While it would have been tempting to stop in for a cup multiple times a week, my roommates (who were equally in love with froyo) and I decided that we would make Wednesdays our 16 Handles nights. It was seriously something we all looked forward to and allowed us to catch up halfway through the week. I was also less tempted to go in on my own because a) a girl can only consume so much froyo each week and b) I decided I would rather save my money and go as part of a social activity rather than just because I felt like it. When one of my roommates and I ended up back in NYC the next summer, we carried on the tradition!
4) Try some DIY cocktails. Pinterest is crawling with fun drink recipes and in the long run it’s cheaper to purchase your own supplies than buy fancy drink after fancy drink at the bar. Invite a friend over and try a recipe (there are tons of great seasonal choices that can make a normal get together extra festive!)