The top 18 ways to entertain on a budget

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Trying to think how to entertain your guests is a challenge on its own. Even harder when you are on a tight budget! It is time to have more fun, you will have to be creative, think out side the box. Some of these ideas might sound a little 'out there,' but that is the point.


In this article from, written by Claire, she warns you that you will need to get a little creative. Creativity is the basis for some of the best cheap and free entertainment.

So prepare yourself and get into a creative state of mind. These kinds of things are what keep life interesting!

This is how to entertain on a tight budget


Potluck – This is my favorite way to entertain on a budget – and for good reason. You get to see your friends AND they bring food. Win, win. You can assign dishes or go with the flow. It’s surprisingly fun when 5 people show up with cake.   

Picnic – I almost feel like eating food outside should be the marker of a successful weekend. It’s so easy to curate a cheap, picnic meal and head outdoors to soak up some vitamin D as you chow down.    

Clothing swap – This one is as efficient as it is exciting. You get to do a little spring cleaning of your clothes while also adding to your wardrobe – for free! Have friends bring over their unwanted clothes, a bag, and get to swapping.   

Learn an instrument – There’s nothing like a little musical therapy to get outside of your mind and relax a little. From harmonica to ukelele, no instrument is too big or small (though portable ones tend to do better). Invite someone be the teacher or all band together to learn the basics for the first time.  

Effective self education does take a lot of self discipline. These tips will help you adopt the right attitude that will get you through a successful journey for self education. Self-education can be made easy if you prepare a good studying environment and make learning your lifestyle

Open mic – Coffee shops and bars are best known for open mics, but if you have a living room then you have all you need to host one of your very own. Invite attendees to bring a 3 minute “segment” of talent and be blown away by the offerings of your friends and family.   

Movie night – Popcorn. DVD. Milk Duds. Boom. You have all the elements for a perfect movie night. For the full effect, don’t skimp out on the previews!   

Art night – Put out different art mediums (pencils, watercolors, charcoal, etc) and get your doodle on. It doesn’t matter if there’s not an artistic bone in your body – it’s fun to let yourself create something.   

Debate night – Harken back to the days of high school debate club and take a stance on something. Whether it’s the merits of cronuts or the health benefits of coffee, (friendly) debates can be a great source of entertainment. Bonus: you don’t have to give out grades at the end.   

Flower exchange/garden party – Looking to expand your garden? Invite friends over and ask them to bring seeds, cuttings, or small plants which you can then exchange with some of your own. Even better, ask attendees  to pass on helpful gardening info to whoever takes over their seedlings.   

Baking/cooking class – You don’t have to be a master chef to embrace your inner Emeril. Pick out your favorite recipe and invite friends over for a demo. Encourage them to do the same and you can even add some recipes into your own arsenal.   

Book exchange – You know those books on your shelf? The ones that you always wanted to read, but never quite got around to? Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Host a book swap and you can refresh your library while sending your own unread books to a good home.   

Book club – If you want to do a little more than exchange books, pick out a book and host a book club. If it seems that people are a little hesitant to commit to the challenge, host a “Short Story Club” and opt for a short story that can be read in 10 minutes or less.

Lawn games – Take your gaming outside for a good old fashioned game of croquet. If you’re feeling fancy, make it a dressy event. If you’re feeling crazy, break out the slip ‘n slide (just be sure to clear the lawn of rocks).   

Musical salon – I went to a dinner party the other day which ended with a private concert courtesy of a viol de gamba playing guest… and I have to say, I felt like I was experiencing something out of a film. That being said, it was amazing and made me realize the value in sharing music with friends. So get a little classical and have a good ol’ musical salon!   

Guide a hike – Take up the leader reigns and pick out a hike near your digs. Sharing natural beauty with others is always a fun way to bond and reconnect with the outdoors.   

Karaoke – There’s not much better than getting your Celine Dione on in front of friends… unless of course you’re channeling your Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Whatever your musical style, rent a machine and prepare to rock the microphone with your buddies.    T

Travel sharing – Travelers almost always want to share their travels – trouble is, not everyone wants to listen to them relive their trips. Give each person the opportunity to share their experiences by hosting a “Trip Spotlight” night. Have people bring photos and stories and give them 15 minutes on center stage. Then, switch to the next person’s travel stories.   

Having the freedom to choose how and where you spend your time will change your life. Often, people are stuck in the rat race, go to work, sacrifice time for money, get home, go to bed and then do it all over again. Those of you who have these dreams of unlimited travel and being free, this is a good place to start.

Topical mastermind group – If there’s something that interests you and your friends, offer an open space to discuss and brainstorm on the topic. This keeps you sharp and also gives an opportunity to bond over common interests. It’s a great way to push your creative brain and learn from others!  

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