As we age, maintaining friendships seems to come at a cost. Whether it’s traveling to meet our farthest-flung acquaintances for recreation or graduations, or establishing recurring meet-ups for drinks or dinner, the bill is getting longer. Additionally, wedding season has officially kicked off, and for many of us twenty-somethings, that means sweating bullets about the financial commitments of travel, outfit purchasing, and (gasp!) paying at non-open bar events. The costs multiply for those in the bridal party, who are also emotionally and financially involved in the planning. But since we’re all relatively recently out of college and most likely broke, let’s explore the ways to enjoy these experiences without the stomach drop that results from looking at your anemic checking account.
1. Send A Letter.
If several-hundred miles and not nearly enough money for a plane ticket prevent you from showing your friends love and support through your actions, words do speak loudly enough if you know how to share them. Writing letters is the perfect way to remind your friends that you’re thinking of them from miles away and receiving an unexpected piece of snail mail is the next best thing to receiving an unexpected visit. Hand-written letters make it evident that time and effort went into your message, unlike shooting off a text or an email, and I can assure you that your friend will keep your letter for years to come, cherishing it just as dearly as the event they’ve had to celebrate without you.
2. Host Potluck Parties.
Your friends might be getting engaged, got a new big job, moving, having a baby, etc… and you want to do your part to show your support. But big bachelorette trips, expensive baby items, or super-duper home-warming gifts might not be in the budget. Why not arrange a dinner party with you and your friends and have everyone bring a dish? That way you’re hosting, getting their loved ones together, and not having to break the bank by throwing the dinner party on your own.
3. Agree Not To Gift.
Holidays and birthdays are a wonderful time that you want to share with your friends, but buying gifts for everyone often leaves you broke. Suddenly instead of a joyous occasion, a lot of crappy presents are given because no one can afford something special for everyone. So why not make a friend pact to not gift? If you know you love each other, material items won’t matter. Agree to always get together, share a meal and make time together your gifts to each other.
4. Raid Your Craft Closet.
As young professionals, money and time are valuable commodities. We know it, your friend knows it, and thus any gift you take the time to make is incredibly valuable. Priceless, if you will. Much like making your own meals, making your own gifts is ultimately cheaper because the supplies can make more than one gift.
Knit them a hat or scarf, put together a recipe booklet, explore the world of mason jar DIY, or make awesome cork boards for your obsessively neat bestie. The sky’s the limit and you can finally put some of those pins on your Pinterest board to use.
5. Concoct A Box With A Year Of Gifts.
Why does there only have to be one gift for that special occasion? Rather than one larger gift, put together a box with 12 smaller gifts in it—one for each month. It can be little things like unique office supplies (#NerdAlert), nail polish, a pair of earrings, or some awesome tights or socks. Wrap each thing and label it with a month. In addition, include a little note to accompany each month’s gift that will remind them how much they mean to you. Just another way to spread the love all year long!
6. Celebrate At Home.
If drinks and dinner are cost prohibitive, bring the party to your pad. Invite your friend over for an evening of homemade dinner and (much stronger and cheaper) drinks—who says home dinner dates are only for romantic relationships? Switching out financial commitments for a minor stack of dishes and a night spent only with people you like (no gross bar creeps!) is a pretty easy choice.
7. Help Them Plan.
Even if you know you can’t swing the costs associated with attending their big event, be it a wedding or a graduation or a baby shower, put the time into helping them prepare for it. Your friend will likely never forget the priceless gift of lowered stress levels thanks to your adept planning skillz or, at the very least, your emotional support.
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