"I am an impoverished student". It’s a statement heard a lot at university, and a statement I can make myself without any shame or compunction. My money goes on clothes sales, £2.50 wine and vaguely green things from the supermarket that make me feel like I’m eating healthy.
Like the rest of the student population, I need to save my pennies when it comes to having a big night out, which is why in our house, we’ve begun slowly to replace them with big nights in. It’s something you’d probably expect from a much older and more sensible swathe of the population, but we’re avoiding the over-priced taxis and queuing in the rain, in favour of big nights in where the heating can go on and you don’t have to wear six-inch heels that hurt like hell.
There are a lot of good things to be said for a night in; no pricey drinks or risk of getting spiked, no girl fights on the dance floor, and absolutely no overly friendly guys who don’t understand “NO” when it’s yelled in their faces. Instead, you can enjoy a handpicked selection on your nearest and dearest, that aforementioned £2.50 wine and the opportunity to wear your pyjamas to a party. Who wouldn’t want that?
It’s also a pretty big money saver. Taxis are pricey for one, and here in Cardiff it costs at least £4 just for the honour of being picked up past midnight. Do that more than once a week, and there’s a substantial hole in your pocket already. Then there’re tickets, if you’re considering one of the classier establishments or a big night at your student union; costing you another £3-5. Then booze; pre-drinks at £5 a bottle of vodka, plus a costly mixer at your chosen club and the inevitable round (or five) of Jaegerbombs. Total that all up and we’re looking at a fair few pennies, especially if done more than once a week. And we haven’t even looked at the cost of new clothes to get all glammed up in, or the panic buying that goes with themed club nights.
So here, at a fraction of the cost, I present to you five of my favourite ways to have a great night in.
Don’t ever underestimate the fun you can have with a collection of board games. Give everyone a drink and add some extra penalties (for example: down your glass if you go to jail in Monopoly) and you’re laughing (and quite possibly drunk). Even without the booze, most board games can provide a funny, competitive and essentially free night in, as everyone has a cheeky copy of Cluedo chilling out in the back of their cupboards at home.
Average cost: whatever one night's pre-drink outlay would be. In my case, roughly £2.
Another passtime mostly reserved for the older generation, but it can be a genuinely hilarious night in. The do-it-at-home box sets begin at as little as £5 and you can entertain a group of eight with it and split the cost equally. Everyone gets a character, so they can put on their gladrags and do their hair and faces, but in a fashion that doesn’t require hours of wrestling with the dress-up collections at your local costume shop. You don’t have to follow the menu on the game rules either, just ask everyone to bring one item along, or club together and order in. Booze is optional, but an extra drink or two tends to make the questions from your fellow suspects a lot more amusing!
Average cost: working from my own experience, roughly £5-10 a person, spread across food, wine, and the contribution to the game.
Easy peasy pumpkin pie. Just pick a genre, and max out your film collection. You can go as heavy or light with the theme as you please. Either pop on a horror film and call out the clichés, or go the whole hog: dress as a wizard, make a staff from your beer cans and watch all eight Harry Potter films in the space of a day and a bit. Everyone has a film or five they brought to uni with them, or with the magic of the Internet you can watch them straight off somebody’s laptop. Make it a sober night and hit the popcorn, or devise your own drinking game based on the film you’re watching.
Average cost: £2-3 pounds for booze and snacks.
When the funds began to run low towards the start of summer last year, my flatmates came up with a genius plan. We clubbed together to buy spirits and juice, got out our pots and pans and made poor man’s cocktails in great quantities in our tiny kitchen. Just to make it extra classy, we all wore our suits and dresses, and made a limo out of cardboard we’d politely asked for in local shops. You don’t have to commit to the theme as much as we did, but either way it makes for a classier twist on the standard house party. You also get the seriously cool experience of drinking your cocktail out of a wok.
Average cost: £2-£5 each depending on how many of you there are and how drunk you plan on getting.
Themed nights in – get creative
There is a wealth of insane and awesome ideas for a night in on the Internet, and even more are likely to be living in the mad little heads of your nearest and dearest. Go mental and make your own rules for Ring of Fire or tape a bottle of wine to each hand. Alternatively, stay sober and be a big kid for the night, make a fort out of the items lying around the house (newspapers and tape work if you’re in halls of residence, and don’t have any sofa cushions) or have an art'n'craft evening and decorate the house with your creations You don’t have to be drinking or dressed up to the nines to have a good night in.
Average cost: anywhere from completely free to as pricey as you can afford.
Sarah Rose is a second year English Literature Student for Cardiff University. You can, and should, follow her on Twitter here.