Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cheap Dates - It's All About Quality

In my family when I was growing up, gatherings or special occasions always revolved around food. For every birthday for our own family and a small portion of our extended family, we went out to eat. Big holidays called for long elaborate meals. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but somehow in the years since my sister and I have moved out of the house and started our own lives, getting together came to mean going out for dinner. "Let's spend time with mom" meant "Where are we going and who is making reservations?"

I think it got skewed that way because it was easy. No one had to clean their house, no one had to cook. We all were doing well financially, so the money didn't really matter.

Somehow, that same thing seemed to seep into my social life. I did see my friends at their house or mine, but still, a lot of hanging out was over a glass of wine at a restaurant, or dinner, or coffee. Again, I don't think there is anything wrong with this - I love doing it! But since everyone I know is either trying to save money, lose weight or both, it seems like we are going out a lot less and spending more time staying in.

Take this Mother's Day, for example...

My mother's birthday is just two weeks before Mother's Day so we had just all been out to dinner together recently. My sister and I decided we wanted to do something different. Instead, we'd have a cup of coffee or some lemonade at my sister's house and then go hit the walking trails that are near her house. It turned out that the weather was too cold for walking, so instead we just hung out and talked while my sister and I put together a new bookshelf she had bought.

It may sound funny, but we don't usually have low key activities like this on an "event day." My sister and I will get together once and awhile to just catch up, but we don't do it so much as a family anymore. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon. Mom called me the next day to ask me about something and made sure to mention how much she enjoyed her day!

My girlfriends and I have found the same thing about our time together. We still love to go out, but we are just as likely to stay in and sit on the couch with a glass of wine and catch up. We started doing this a lot more regularly over the last year. There is something about these informal, impromptu that I really like - and not just the fact they are easy on the pocketbook!

Photo by: _Dave Austria


psychsarah said...

I'm such a homebody, I prefer hanging out with friends at home-ot really does allow for more quality time. I can play the music I want and a volume that permits talking and not yelling (I know-I sound old, I can't help it-I have sensitive ears!), I can eat/drink what my guests and I like, how we like it (it probably helps that I love to cook), there's no wait for a table, we don't have to worry about parking or bad service, we can be comfortable to discuss whatever comes to mind, my animals love the company, and of course, it's a lot more frugal! I think I developed this habit in grad school, when we were all too broke to go out all the time-a big night was making popcorn and watching our favourite TV shows! Obviously, it was more about time together than the activity. My husband loves to tell the story of when my grad school friends and I went to a 24 hr grocery store that had a "fresh or free" policy at midnight, seeking products that weren't fresh, so we could get a free replacement-we were just bored living in a town with nothing to do and no money to do anything anyway, so we got creative. It was a silly and fun pursuit! Even now that we have "real jobs", when my best friend and I get together, we regularly stay in, cook a nice dinner, drink nice wine and talk the day and night way. Sometimes we'll go for a walk, or she'll get out her guitar and we'll sing a bit. The only downside is that my husband has to convince me to leave our little cozy cocoon sometimes!!

Dawn said...

Psyhsarah - That all sounds really nice! I like staying in on my own, I tend to be a bit of a hermit, but when seeing friends and family, it tends to be a mix of going out and staying in.

Anonymous said...

That's good you found staying in can be as enjoyable. H and I are learning this one too! ;)