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The Big Question: Down and Out Edition | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Big Question: Down and Out Edition

So we all know it’s easy to have a great big fun night out when you spend great big amounts of money, but for those of us who are pinching our pennies until Mr Lincoln’s ears meet in the back of his head, there is something to be said for a cheap night out.  That being said.

Francesca and Plumcake want to know:

What is your best cheap night out? Inspire we temporarily poor girls to fabulousity!

20 Responses to “The Big Question: Down and Out Edition”

  1. TeleriB January 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Hard to beat a first-class concert in a gorgeous historic venue that’s nearly free (Ticketmaster charges only). Your tax dollars at work – take advantage if you’re in the DC area!

    The only downside is that there isn’t much nearby for a pre- or post-concert snack or drink.

  2. Twistie January 16, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Having needed to stretch those dollars until the eagle grinned a few times in my life, I have one or two suggestions.

    Movie night at someone’s house with a thematic potluck meal. Pirate movie? Bring Carribbean treats and drink rum punch. Something historical? Bring out your grandmother’s recipe book (or search a little further back in time). Since everyone brings one dish and the movie is either already owned by someone or rented for one night, it works out pretty cheaply for everyone involved. Make it easy on the non-cooks by having them bring drinks or simple nibbles.

    Window shopping is still fun after dark and costs you only transportation and parking fees.

    If there’s a coffee house in your area that has live music, you can be entertained for hours for the price of a cup of joe. I’ve found some great bands/singers that way. Bars work for this, too, I hear.

  3. Katana January 16, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Go to the bar before 11, when cover is free, get a stamp, and dance all night. Drink water and smoke cigarettes and ask strangers for lights.

  4. Margo January 16, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Borders bookstore. It’s been the standard evening out for my husband and me, and our kids, for years, including a period when we were so broke that it was cheaper to spend evenings there because that way we didn’t have to pay for heat. There’s good stuff to read, the music’s usually interesting, and if we want to be wildly extravagant the coffee shop has lattes and Rice Krispie treats.

    Anyone who wants to give me guff for patronizing the evil monopolists, please hold your breath. If my only local independant bookstore had comfy chairs, was open after six, and didn’t give me stink eye everytime I leave without buying something, I’d go there.

  5. Fabricdiva January 16, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    My sister used to do this in high school. She and her friends would get dressed to the nines; hair spiked, sequins, high heels, whatever was in fashion at the time. They would go out to a diner around eight of nine at night, as if they were just having coffee before going someplace fabulous. Then, perhaps, another diner. Then they would go to one of their houses and watch a movie. After midnight they would frequent a few more diners, pretending they had just come from somewhere wonderful. They would even have props, like a playbill or souvenir program from a Broadway show (we lived in Jersey). Perhaps they would complain about what a horrible party they had just been to! They could show off their fantastic fashions and look cool without buying much more than coffee and french fries.

    Now that I am in my forties, I am thinking of doing this myself. I have great clothes to wear (thanks to this wonderful website) and no place to go.

  6. Jane January 16, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    I am a dork so I love to spend an evening with friends playing card games or board games.

  7. Amanda January 16, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    So, here in Denver is a lovely website called http://www.denver365.com. There is a whole section that lists nothing but events that are free, galleries, music, movies, festivals. It’s kept me entertained many an evening or weekend. I’m sure that there is something similar in most cities. You can also try that one thing…ummm what’s it called? Oh, yeah, a newspaper. They still have those right? The arts and leisure section is excellent.

    I also used to go out to events posted at meetin.org. It’s a social networking website, and often people host parties at their houses or inexpensive group events. It’s lots of fun and a great way to meet new people in a non-threatening environment.

  8. Jennie January 16, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    That rocks Fabricdiva! I also like to go on line to the local arts council page or the city page to find out what’s going on. Twice a month we have a gallery crawl, some of the coffee shops/bars will have something fun and free. It’s amazing what is happening that you don’t know about. Open house to a political party, new business open house, etc… Most of these NEVER check RSVP’s if you are well dressed and enter with attitude!

  9. Leah January 16, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    Well if like Leah and Plumcake you are a DC girl, this week you should be maximizing your minimal cash with restaurant week, when the best places in town will give you three courses for a mere $30.08, or $20.08 for lunch. Most big cities have a restaurant week or something similar at some point during the year, and it is a great chance to live like you’re rich and fabulous when you are in reality just wholly fabulous.

    Also, as a DC-ite, I’m an expert in fun things to do I don’t have to pay for. Music at the Kennedy at 6? Check. People-watching and dancing in the street on a Saturday in Dupont Circle? So there. Enjoying one of the hundreds of museums, monuments, archives, parks, and arboretums that I already paid for when I wrote my check to the IRS? All over it.

    Most cities have secret fun and free treasures. When I lived in Chattanooga, there were two outdoor free weekly concert series that were great. And every town has its own mini-Paris location that is perfect for people-watching, reading, and looking fabulously mysterious for the price of your latte. Smaller museums often have open houses, sometimes with free drinks, to generate interest in new exhibits; sometimes even fashion boutiques have these kind of events, especially if the designer is the owner. You would be surprised how much is already happening in your home town for which someone else is footing the bill.

  10. amysue January 16, 2008 at 7:41 pm #

    – Windowshopping downtown (or at Target!) with coffee/cocoa in hand

    – Borders (as somebody above suggested)

    – Cooking dinner together (frequently cheaper than eating out) then watching bad TV over a bottle of Yellowtail wine

    – Sitting and drinking coffee in some cafe while playing cards or board games

  11. Lucy January 16, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    I’m a huge Borders fan myself. In fact, before I met my bf, I found many a date there.

    I’m also a huge fan of third run movie houses. There’s a $3 theater 2 blocks from my house and that plus El Pollo Loco is our “hot date night.”

  12. m January 16, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    1. find local listings for cheap / free stuff
    2. making dinner with friends – rented movies
    3. if you know you want to eat know get to know all the cheap and tasty eats in your area. ethnic food tends to do really well for this. here in sf taquerias will take care of you for cheap. lunch is usually cheaper out
    4. find good people watching with your cheap eats. a friend and i used to get cheap dinner near a bar/club area where you can watch clubgoers come and go fro free entertainment
    5. happy hours can have great cheap snacks and drinks and it’ll
    6. going to a big bookstore and reading all their magazines – doing research

  13. Dowdydiva January 17, 2008 at 8:55 am #

    What m says.

    Also, go to the public library and rent a few good DVDs. Then go to the wine store and ask the clerks not what’s good, but what they actually drink. Most wine store staff have Chateauneuf du Pape tastes and a Three Buck Chuck budget. You should be able to have a great night for about $10.

    Also, summer is fantastic for the thrifty – so many free events outside!

  14. teapunk January 17, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    When it’s summer, I like to have picknicks – very romantic for two and a lot of fun (and so much more food!) for more people. Everybody can bring something, you walk to your local park/lake/river/beach/whatever pretty spot and after that, you can enjoy the scenery and have something nice to eat and some prosecco.

  15. Leah January 17, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    If you live in or near a city, a lot of art museums (and natural science and other) are actually free! Although they *look* like they charge admission, it’s actually a requested donation. You do sometimes have to pay for a specific exhibit, but not for entry to the museum itself. That’s why parking and food are always so expensive. I live about an hour north of Boston, so I drive to a T-station, park there, and take the T to the Museum of Science or the MFA. I make sure to bring some snacks so I don’t buy the $25 cheeseburger. I also bring my pedometer – it’s a great way to get a walk in without having to go outside in the sub-zero weather.

  16. Rachael January 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    The local college/university might have some excellent shows for fairly cheap. I’m a student, so it’s even cheaper! For example, I’m going to a barbershop festival this weekend, a Shakespeare play next weekend ($4 each night, $8 for community members), and the King’s Singers for $5 ($10) the week after that. Not high glamour, but high talent.

  17. Tk January 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    My best first date ever included walking around holding hands in a parking lot, because we could not afford the price of ice skating. Many years later he proposed. What you do is not so important as who you’re with.

    (Though, with a slightly larger budget, ice or roller skating, ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants, cooking at home, board game night, watching funny youtube videos together, picnics, going to the library, and reading to each other outloud are favorite cheapo ideas.)

  18. sue January 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm #

    College and University music departments are full of free recitals. You can pay big bucks to hear a faculty member play in the local symphony, or wait until that same faculty member holds his annual recital for free or only a few dollars admission.

  19. littlem January 18, 2008 at 6:57 pm #

    Free jazz concerts at the Whitney and/or Guggenheim. Oh, and first Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum.

    Sneak your own flask, if you just must, in the top of your thigh high hose. (Don’t blame me if the cute guard searches you.)

  20. Jen January 20, 2008 at 4:12 am #

    Well, if you’re in NYC… Hit up Crif Dogs for gourmet hot dogs, then hit up the Marc by Marc Jacobs accessories store — it’s like the designer dollar store. Then stop by Magnolia Bakery and wait in line for cupcakes! You meet some interesting people standing there in line. Buy some extras and hit up a bar with them–another way to meet great people. All in all, the total comes out to about the same as movies w/ popcorn for two.