I want you to picture this meetup idea if you can… I’m stood in my friend Marlene’s apartment with my head in the shower and she’s stood behind me massaging my hair with some cheap shampoo and scalp and telling me about the virtues of this thing called that she wants me to try in my hair instead of shampoo. It sounds messy though and I decline politely, telling her that I just want my hair to be clean and that any shampoo will do.
What I’ve just shared with you is a typical meetup I have with my friend Marlene. She’s not rich, and neither am I. But we enjoy our friendship and we help each other out a lot too. The next time I’m at her house, she might be sat on the floor with her back turned to me while I oil her hair and scalp, and plait it (her hair) into the tiny bits that she loves. In an hour or two that it takes to do that, we will catch up with what’s going on in each other’s lives, for example, our kids, crafts, work etc. And before I leave, you can bet anything I will learn something new that will help me to grow as a person.
My point here is that friendships can be maintained without spending a lot of money. It’s the quality of the time spent together that’s important.
I am going to share with you some ways that you can nurture your friendships the frugal way. I’m going to use my own experiences and then you can put your own slant on things. By the way, I hope you’re not thinking that my friends and I are cheapskates! When you realize just how much fun we have and how our bond is strengthened, you will want to try our ideas too.
Just hang out
When I was growing up, it was a pleasure to just walk over to my friends’ houses or have them come over to mine. So what did we do? We just hung out together. Our sessions were just full of fun and giggles that make me smile even now just reminiscing about it. So now that we are older, we still find this a fun thing to do. In fact, I don’t think we are unique in this regard, so I am sure you’re thinking, ‘sure, we do that’.
Sometimes just hanging out comes in handy too. Recently when I met up with two friends one of whom was going through chemotherapy, we found it convenient to sit in a little church cafe with a muffin and hot drink each while we played a few rounds of Four Pics One Word on my Ipad. The time was very well spent and was less stressful for one who felt she would have been too ‘wilted’ to deal with what we had originally planned for our meetup.
My friend Dahlia and I taught in another country over 12 years ago and used to maintain our friendship by ringing each other up a few times a year (at least twice) to do some catching up. Well, with the influx of technology as we know it now, we catch up often, several times a week via Skype and Whatsapp or even Facetime. It was such fun when years ago we discovered that we could actually see each other while we talked! Guess what? I gave her a tour of my home, showed her what I was cooking, and one time I even showed her my classroom which was a massive upgrade on the ones we used to work in back home! So go make use of the technology. After all, you only need an internet connection, and unless you’re still stuck in the ancient days, you should have access to this.
Oh no! Museum
I don’t know about you but I don’t really appreciate fine art! Did I shock you with that? You know what I mean, don’t you? I honestly find it boring to walk through an Art gallery. So once when my friends invited me for a meetup and told me that their idea is for us to go to an art gallery, I swear they could see my eyes rolling in disbelief!
But guess what? Sometimes you’ve just got to make compromises! So what did I do? I went with them and did what I always to amuse myself and make time appear to go faster. It worked, my two friends were in their element, and I was in mine. We were together, and that’s important. And then there was the picnic lunch to look forward to.
Plan a picnic
If I’m meeting up with friends on a lovely day we sometimes go out for a meal together. Mind you, the meal is sometimes just a picnic that we each contribute to. There is always enough to eat, say, see and do. And that is enough for a wonderful afternoon spent with friends.
Plan a sleepover
My friends know I’m famous (or infamous) for this one. If you have some time off work, you can plan a sleepover. Fun, cheap and easy, all you need really are extra blankets and pillows (or your friends can bring theirs), snacks, and some matchsticks to keep your eyes open when your friends are still chatting way into the night! Make sure you get someone to take care of little ones if you have them though. You’re going to be too cranky to deal with them the next day or they’re too cranky because they stayed up too late with you. A good idea is to take random pics which you can send via Whatsapp to your friends later on.
Have a cook off
This is by far one of my favorite ideas with friends. It does need some planning and will depend on each person’s availability. Here’s how it works: let’s say you have a circle of four or five friends who live reasonably close to each other. Arrange some dates and times for each person to have a visit from the others. The host has to make a meal for the guests who may or may not watch while it is being prepared. To make it even more fun, one friend could suggest the menu that the next host should prepare! Can you see yourself doing that? That’s one of the ways I learn to make foods from different cuisines. It also gets me used to using all types of unfamiliar herbs, spices, and other ingredients.
Go to Church
I like visiting other churches and seeing what’s different to my own. One summer, I set myself a challenge to visit a different church each weekend. It was an interesting eye opener! As friends we got to experience worship in different styles; loud and exuberant or mellow and sedentary. Not only that, we widened our circle of friends and now see each other with new ‘eyes’. When was the last time you visited a church? If you chose to do my challenge, you only need a set of half decent clothes. Everything else is prepared for you to have a lovely experience. Putting money in the collection plate or bag at church is entirely optional by the way. See it as a tip.
My all time favorite
Meeting up with friends and doing some time of activity together is my favourite. Mark you, it will need some planning so that we have the resources to do what we plan. In my case, my favourite thing to do as an actiity is some type of craft or other. Be it card making, button craft, bottle craft or decoupage, mosaic work, sewing or just abstract painting using cheap acrylic paints and canvas. We even used to do a collaborative piece where we all work together on one canvas, putting our own spin on things. The lucky recipient would be the one who puts forward (in a fun way ofcourse), the best argument for keeping it. Oh what fun we had on those sessions.