How to have a cheap night in

15 January 2010

Staying in is the new going out - especially in January when it's cold outside and money's tight.

But inviting friends and family over for a cheerful evening can end up being costly, when you take into account buying in food, drinks and entertainment such as a DVD.

But it doesn't have to be that way - follow Moneywise's guide to enjoying a cheap and cheerful evening.

Food & drink

Marks & Spencer has launched another Dine in for £10 offer this weekend, including a main, side dish, dessert and a bottle of wine.

Highlights include a hickory smoked whole chicken, wild Alaskan salmon with watercress or beef roulade for mains; rosemary potatoes, pantafola or Mediterranean style vegetables for the accompaniments; and banoffee cheesecake slices, Bramley apple puff pastry pie or lemon soufflé for pudding.

The drinks menu includes Pinot Grigio Garganega, Sicilan Shiraz and Inzolia Pinot Grigio.

There are also non-alcoholic options such as elderflower presse and peach and grape juice.

View the full menu

Another option to get a good deal on food for your gathering is to check out You can price-check your menu across the main supermarkets to find the cheapest deals.

Other ways to cut the cost of a supermarket shop

If you’re not much of a cook, or would simply prefer the ease of ordering food in, have a look on discount voucher websites to see if you can find any deals. For example, has a 50% off Domino’s Pizza voucher on orders over £30.

You can also download vouchers directly from Moneywise in our voucher section – try entering your postcode in the search tool to see if you can find a good takeaway deal in your local area.

To help keep down the costs of having friends or family over for food, why not ask all your guests to bring one element of the menu?

For example, you could take responsibility for the main course but ask others to bring bread and dips, a salad and something sweet and sticky for desert. At the very least, request that your guests all bring a bottle of wine.

Alterntatively, research cocktail recipes online ( is a good website to start) and ask your guests to each bring an ingredient.


Once you’re stomachs are full, you could all settle down to watch the TV – but, let’s face it, the chances are they’ll be nothing good on.

Renting a DVD in advance is a good option. But if you don’t fancy trekking to your local Blockbuster, forking out several pounds for the film of your choice, and risking a fine if you don’t return it on time, you could consider joining an online rental club.

Postal DVD services vary in price, but all offer your DVDs by post in exchange for a monthly fee. According to, Lovefilm, Blockbuster and Tesco DVD Rental are the top three companies.

Lovefilm: The cheapest plans costs £3.99 a month but you’ll only receive two rentals a month (one at a time). For £7.99 a month you can enjoy four DVDs a month (two at a time). Or, for unlimited rentals you’ll pay £12.99 a month (two discs at a time) or £18.99 (three discs at a time). Sign up now for a two-week trial.

Blockbuster: For £12.99 a month you can enjoy unlimited rentals and up to two discs at a time. Sign up now for a two-week trial for £1.

Tesco DVD: You can choose between one, two or three DVDs at a time for £8.97, £11.97 and £14.97 per month respectively. There is no limitations on the number of DVDs you can watch.

Other ways to entertain your guests at home...

1. Ask your friends to bring their favourite board or computer game with them on the night. Alternatively, see if you can pick up an old jigsaw puzzle in a charity shop and get to work trying to complete it before the end of the night.

2. Organise a pampering session - ask your friends to bring facemasks, nail polish and a cucumber and treat youselves to a bit a TLC.

3. Invest in a pack of cards. There are hundreds of games you can play, from poker to rummy. claims to be the largest collection of card games on the internet. If playing for money isn't your thing, buy several boxes of matches or a large bag of sweets and keep it clean.

4. Combine an evening in with a 'shopping' trip by hosting your own swap shop. Simply ask your friends to bring, say, three items of unwanted clothing and you're on your way.

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