Post holiday blues: How to have fun on a college budget in the new year

Potluck dinner

Host a potluck dinner party!

If the holiday spending spree has left you feeling post-festivities withdrawal, no need to despair. Just because your wallet seems vacuum-dried, it doesn’t mean you have to stay home alone munching on ramen for the next month. Here are some tips on how to have fun after the holidays without spending a bundle.

Organize a treasure hunt

Everyone likes a good race, especially when there’s a prize to be won. Think of this as the starving student’s version of The Amazing Race, only local. Come up with a series of clues that you can put on paper and hide in various parks, gardens and local shops around town. Organize your friends into pairs and let the fun begin. If everyone chips in just $5, that could be prize enough to cover at least a nice pizza dinner with a date.

Themed parties

Bring out another side of your friends – the thespian side – with a murder mystery party. The game requires a script with a murder plot and several characters, all of whom, except one of course, are suspects until the plot is unraveled. The key here is to be as creative as possible with a story that has lots of plot twists. Create a story that’s set in a particular time period so that your friends come in costume.  The zanier the characters, the more hilarious the game! You can also find free downloads on the Internet of prefabricated murder mystery games that come with everything you need, including the storyline and character descriptions.

A College Party Guru contributor, in a post titled, “Murder Mystery Party,” outlined ideas for setting up and costumes. “Acting as the perfect dinner theater production, murder mysteries pit the ‘audience’ in the midst of a fresh murder,” the contributor explained. “It’s an enjoyable way to get people involved and, with the right creative mind before it, could be an amazing themed college party.”

Go outdoors

If your campus is located within a small town surrounded by nature, why not get out and explore? Look up some local hiking trails in your area. A great hike can not only get you out exploring your surroundings, but is a great way to clear your mind and work off those extra holiday pounds – without the cost of joining a gym. If you’re in an urban area, find out more about local historical landmarks and take a guided walking tour.

Find a free event

Nothing’s better than the word “free” just after the holidays. Your campus newspaper will surely have a listing of free events, lectures, movie nights and concerts on campus. For music lovers, keep an eye out for open-mic nights where amateurs can try their hand at performing before a crowd. In addition, several on-campus organizations will also offer discounted group ski trips that can help you save a bundle. In “CL’s Guide to Weekend Getaways on a Budget!,” an October 16, 2011 post to College Lifestyles, Shelly Marie listed budget-sensitive ideas for weekend fun.

If you want to get off campus, look for local weeknight deals for college students, which often offer the better prices on concerts and festivals than identical weekend events.

Host a potluck

Let’s face it, good food costs. Before your cupboards become Depression era worthy, try hosting a potluck dinner with your friends this weekend. Of course, whether or not you are a good cook isn’t the point. Learning how to have fun on a budget sometimes means improvising! If you know which of your friends are, those are the ones who will be most likely to participate. And if your friends who are great cooks are coming, you might be able to convince other friends to bring something simple — like paper plates. Jessica Kryza, writing for MTSU Sidelines, in her November 14, 2012 article “A college kid’s guide to a perfect potluck thanksgiving,” recommended letting guests decide whether to try something simple, something fancy, or spend money on a grocery-store-made fruit or appetizer platter to share.

For those living in the dorms where cooking isn’t possible, try organizing a small potluck picnic instead where you can all bring one item to share. “As long as each person contributes to the party, it will be […] fun and memorable,” Kryza concluded.

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