Friday, September 24, 2010

Financial Friday: Accommodating House Guests

Last weekend, I had eight friends coming from Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut to my tiny apartment. Z was gracious enough to accommodate the sleeping arrangements at his place (my apartment is almost too small to sleep two people, let alone eight), but it was up to me to feed them. My first thought: How on earth am I going to feed over eight people over the course of two days and not go bankrupt?

With a little list writing and planning ahead, I managed to spend under $30. Here's how:

-Buy in bulk: Since my out of town friends were all people I went to college with, I knew the evening would include drinking in some capacity - and drinking normally leads to snacking. To make sure I was ready for any late-night snacking, I went to Stop and Shop and bought family sized bags of pretzels and Doritos. To be safe, I also picked up two frozen, store brand cheese pizzas at $2 a pop. My total grocery bill was under $10, easily.

-Share dinner: I wanted to show my friends around town, but didn't want to spend a fortune on going out to dinner. Everyone pays for themselves, but I was looking for something fun yet less expensive for all of us to do. After giving them a walking tour of my neighborhood, we all stopped at Not Your Average Joe's for some appetizers and cocktails. We split about five appetizers amongst the group, and spent only about $10 each.

-B.Y.O.B.: I've been to plenty of house gatherings where the host provides the drinks, but I just can't afford to do that, at least not for eight people - and not a few weeks before we leave for Italy. So, since I was providing food anyway, I asked everyone to bring whatever they wanted to drink for the evening. This also ensured everyone was drinking what they wanted to drink, versus having to consume what the host bought for them.

-Celebrate inexpensively: Over the weekend, we were celebrating two of my friends' birthdays, and I had a Betty Crocker Devil's Food cake mix and whipped vanilla frosting in the cabinet. Before everyone came over, I made a batch of cupcakes - which ended up being about 30. A cake mix costs around $3 - that's about 10 cents per cupcake. That's my kind of dessert!

Overall, my friends and I had a wonderful weekend, and I am forever grateful to Z and his roommate for letting everyone stay at their house. It was also great to know that everybody left well fed - but I wasn't left broke.

How do you prepare for a house full of people, without blowing your budget?


  1. Wow. I think I end up spending at least $100 every time I have people over! Great budgeting.

  2. You seriously are my economical hero! Another great tip is to go out for breakfast or brunch, which is a bit cheaper and stay in cook for dinner!