Picnic in the Tujunga Hills + Guide To Having Fun Without Spending Money

AKA How To Get Lit While Broke As A Joke. 



Hi, I'm Heather and I'm The Cheap Friend.

No matter what group I am in, I'm the one who is ordering an appetizer for dinner and refilling mini bottles to drink in the bathroom instead of ordering at the bar. And I'm proud of it. :)

This summer, I'm writing more about how I paid off my student loans in six months, decorated my apartment on a shoe string, and got a big, cheap engagement ring on the deal of the decade. 


Recently I ran off into the mountains to have a picnic with my lovely girls Brenda and Jen (Check out their fashion blogs! Brenda's blog is here and Jen's blog is here .)

This outing got me thinking about all the quirky parties and hangouts that Chris and I have hosted over the years. Here's a great big list of ideas and tips for having fun with the gang from Friday-Sunday without emptying the piggy bank.

Guide to Having Fun Without Spending Money

1. Plan to meet at home and cook a lunch/snack basket together before heading out.

2. Compete to see how much food you can sneak into a movie theatre. Chris and I used to pack up entire mac and cheese casseroles, asparagus, and desserts in plastic bags and then once the lights went down, we'd pop out paper plates and pass the potluck around to our friends. Tacky, yes, but I doubt that it's the most tacky thing people have done in the dark of movie theaters. ;) 

3. Instead of going out to brunch, pop out the Pinterest and find a fun mimosa recipe. A $2 box of bisquick feeds the whole fam some waffles, and nobody will mind bringing a topping. Not only will you impress your friends but you'll save $$.


4. Follow the Facebook pages for your city. They announce special events and have great discounts for locals.

5. If one of your friends has a pool in her apartment, have a weekend pool party with themed snacks and an upbeat playlist. Don't forget to play chicken!

6. Pre-game before the club. Always pre-game. Since you're already taking an uber (don't drink and drive babe), invite the squad to meet at your place first and have some shots. Don't forget to pack an extra mini bottle for your purse. Ten dollars a shot is NEVER worth it. :(


7. Instead of going out to dinner, pack up some chips and guac and a little limeade and drive to the tallest view in your city. Watch the sunset and enjoy a real view with your dinner. 

8. Instead of spending money on pilates classes, take a hike with your gal pals. Extra points if someone brings a dog. 


10. Create a pillow fort and watch Netflix in the living room. Who are we kidding, though. You're going to spend the whole time taking pics of the adorable little fort for the 'gram. 

11. Most libraries let you rent projectors for a very low price. Use a Pinterest recipe to pop some kernels on the stove (Popcorn that isn't sold in the microwaveable bag is actually wicked cheap and 100x yummier) and invite everyone over for some Broad City on the big screen, I mean, er,  the big wall. 

12. Instead of going shopping, take turns visiting each other's closets and picking out new outfits that you never might have thought of. And this is just me, but if I was in your closet, I would have the time of my life with the right music, the right drink, and three hours to organize it. 


13. Game time! The app store has soooooo many free games to play with your group, and I don't just mean charades. Board games are so 2016. 

14. Spaghetti night! Spaghetti noodles are literally $1 and garlic bread is the same price. If more than three friends are coming, we're automatically having a spaghetti night with some new twist on my pasta sauce recipe. 

15. Budgets don't have to mean the end of fine dining. Chris and I like to cook a candle lit dinner together at home, then speed off to our ritzy dinner reservation for dessert. A $20 lava cake split between the two of us still makes a romantic night, and there's no morning after money guilt. 


16. Pizza is the answer for eating out with friends! On my picnic with Jen and Brenda, we grabbed a vegan Blaze pizza and a bottle of Barefoot white wine. An $8 pizza split between three people ain't a thing! Make sure that if you do family-style eating out with your friends, you always get the Venmo hot and ready BEFORE the food arrives. Once the food disappears, the memories of agreeing to split the bill start to disappear. 

17. Get an underground dance party rolling! I went to college in a tiny town and we didn't have Salsa dancing bars and clubs. So we made our own dance parties! Chris has an outdoor bluetooth speaker that packs a punch as far as volume is concerned, so we sent out a mass text and drove to cool spots to dance the night away. Airstrips, gym parking lots, yoga studios after hours, my friend's basement, private beaches, and a random field with a blazing bonfire became the new dance floor. 

18. How to get an entire group buzzed on a few dollars: make sangria! For our engagement party, my best friend Molly made varieties of sangria with lemon juice, lemonade concentrate, orange juice, Costco's red wine, triple sec, and club soda. She floated slices of lemon, orange and lime, and maraschino cherries in the mixture. It cost about $50 to get 25 people buzzed for a night of toasts and dancing. 

20. For a classy double date, Chris and I love to host in our apartment with yummy appetizers and a cocktail. Instead of buying those Trader Joe's frozen appetizers, I buy a two pack of $3 pre-rolled pie crusts and make Galettes! It's sooooo cheap and easy: just unroll the crust and spread out pesto (don't forget to buy the cheap stuff at Costco), add tomatoes, and top with vegan, feta, or goat cheese (dribble a little balsamic vinegar for extra pizzaz). Bake it until the edges are brown and crispy. We always get ooo's and ahhh's and our guests never realize that we went with the cheap option. ;)


Got more cheap fun ideas? Leave a comment! xoxo