Bad news first.
I invited a new friend over for dinner last night, and was stood up! I had been looking forward to it---I happened to have a free evening (i.e. no work, no school), which doesn't occur often these days. Although we made our plans a few days ago, to be truthful, I suppose I can't really say I was 'stood up'---it might be more accurate to say that I was 'rainchecked', because he's swamped at work. I guess I'm not the only one, eh?
On to the good news.
He let me know with enough time that I spent exactly zero money on our dinner. I hadn't visited the grocery store yet, nor had I even begun preparing any food. Being that it's the end of the month, I was stressing a bit about the extra money I would be spending. Instead, I found myself with a lazy, sunny evening on the deck (free!), reading a couple of magazines that have been sitting around the house for months (also free!).
So, whether or not this guy gets another invitation to dinner at my house, this situation does beg the question: how does one entertain without spending loads of cash? Here are a few ideas I came up with last night as I watched the sun go down:
- Go for a walk or hike: Portland is full of parks, large and small. There is a great one near me called Mount Tabor, which has some nice trails, plus lawn areas that have views of downtown. Most parks are accessible by public transportation, and a short drive would take us to some other amazing hikes, without using too much gas.
- Bike rides! Again, with Portland being a very bike friendly city, it's an easy ride to the waterfront (or to a park!). Bring an inexpensive picnic and you can have a lovely day by the river for very little money.
- Free events. Powell's Bookstore often offers author readings and lectures. I've only been to one since I've lived in Portland (Calvin Trillin), but that's because I haven't regularly checked the Powell's Bookstore website to see what's coming up. Best of all, these events are free! Working on a university campus, there are also loads of free and low-cost events all the time.
- Movie night--at home. The library has DVD's that can be rented (free, of course), although this takes some planning. I've found that these movies often have lots of holds, so signing up for a DVD and being flexible about when to watch it are key. When this doesn't work, renting a $4 DVD from a video store is a good second choice.
I'm sure there are more ideas for free or low-cost entertaining and socializing out there in the blogosphere. I'll keep looking, and if you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to comment!