• Keeping Friends

Girls’ Nights on the Cheap: Staying Connected Without Spending a Fortune

Published: April 1, 2009 | Last Updated: June 10, 2020 By | Reply Continue Reading

Dawn Williams Bertuca and Tina VanZant Bishop are the Girlfriends-In-Chief at Girlfriend Celebrations, a website that provides original ideas for girlfriend gatherings. They founded the site in 2005, based on the premise that “Girlfriends Make Life Better.™”

“Knowing that women tend to nurture others but not themselves, and that few women give themselves permission to make friendship a priority, we make it easy to have fun and meaningful times together by publishing complete party plans for girls’ night out, girls’ night in, girlfriend gatherings and girlfriend getaways,” they say.

I was delighted that Dawn and Tina agreed to share their thoughts here on how girlfriends can stay connected during these trying economic times.

Does the economic downturn mean the end of girls’ nights?

Every girlfriend we know is watching her wallet a little more closely these days. A traditional girls’ night out—whether it’s dinner, clubbing, or a movie—can be expensive. If you can’t spend as freely as you used to, should you cancel your monthly date with the girls?

We say, absolutely not! We firmly believe that regular girlfriend gatherings are essential not only to your sanity, but to your health, especially during challenging times. The benefits of female friendship are too important to sacrifice simply for monetary reasons.

What are your top three pointers for budget friendly get-togethers?

The good news is that a successful girls’ night doesn’t require expensive outings or activities. There are many ways to have fun and meaningful gatherings without breaking the bank. Try these 3 budget-friendly approaches and you might find a new favorite way to spend time with the girls:


Turning “Girls’ Night Out” into “Girls’ Night In” is the most obvious way to save money while still enjoying your gal pals.

Swap parties are especially hot right now, because they let you “shop” for new stuff among your friends’ no-longer-wanted goodies. Try swapping clothing, accessories, home décor, books and magazines, or even (for the true recessionista) coupons.

Game tournaments
are another way to liven up girls’ night in with some friendly competition, while using entertainment items you already have. Play Scrabble, Monopoly, Hearts, Euchre, beanbags, or Wii games (we like the Dancing with the Stars game or Smarty Pants trivia for girls’ night). Award inexpensive prizes to the winners and be sure to take lots of photos!

Sharing a meal can be the centerpiece of your girls’ night, too. Making and serving food to your friends is a great way to nurture them, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Try a soup exchange, progressive dinner, or good old potluck supper. You might even try a cooking party where you make dishes to freeze or for a friend in need. If you use evite to invite your gal pals, you can set up your invitation so that your friends can sign up to bring items they can afford.


If you simply must have a girls’ night out, lower your cost by planning creatively. See a community theater or high-school production instead of a Broadway musical; check out a cooking school for dining bargains; visit a beauty academy for your spa outing.


Entertaining maven Ina Garten once said, “The difference between a good party and a bad party has nothing to do with the food. It has all to do with the … hostess having fun.” Stop trying to impress your friends! You don’t have to be posh to be popular. One flower in a vase makes a statement as well as a bouquet. A quality salsa and chips is a fine frugal substitute for your famous seven-layer dip. Group photos (perhaps with fun props) make festive but low-cost party favors that will be cherished far longer than a scented candle.

Remember that your girlfriends love you for your personality, not your purse. And if they don’t, it’s time to find some new girlfriends. Have fun together, ladies!

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