Big birthday dinners are fun, but they can be expensive, and the costs really start to add up when you have them, like, every weekend. I just had my last big birthday dinner at age 31–when the bill came out to $300 per person I felt *so badly* for my friends and vowed never to do it again. I mean–you can’t be a birthday princess forever.
If you’re still in the phase of life where all your friends are having big birthdays–here’s how to navigate them so they don’t make you go broke:
1. Pick the place. Find a place with happy hour specials or good, cheap food (hole-in-the-walls can be the best!). Look for restaurants that accommodate big groups well–like by serving platters or snack food–and bars that have beer and drink specials. Suggest the locale to the birthday girl and the group–they’ll probably be happy you did the research for them!
2. Do the job of splitting up the bill. If you offer to work with the waitress to figure out who ordered what, and how much to put on each card, you’ll avoid the awkward situation of doing it at the table (and ruining the birthday girl’s vibe). Leave the table, head to the wait station and do it out of everyone’s face. They’ll continue drinking and having fun–all they have to do is sign for their check when it comes! This way, you won’t have to pay for the chips and guac you didn’t eat. This is especially important for people who don’t drink!
3. Skip the dinner. This is the easiest way to save money on other people’s birthdays–just don’t go. Sure, you’ll be missing out on the fun, but you’ll get over that FOMO quick. If your friends are meeting for dinner then going out after, skip the dinner and meet up with them at the bar. Save money on the food (eat at home), bring a cheap gift (or even a re-gift) to make up it up to the birthday girl, then order wisely at the bar.
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4. Just go to the pre-game. You’ll save the most money by not going out at all. Bring a $30 bottle of liquor with a big bow on it to the pre-game then walk out with everyone when they’re headed to the bar. Give the birthday girl a big hug, then quietly exit. Not everybody needs to know you’re sneaking out–and the truth is, they’ll probably won’t even notice.
5. Offer to host. Offer to have the party at your apartment–and ask people to bring booze. Spend a few dollars on snacks and mixers, then set up a table for booze. You’ll all save money not going out–and if you decide to order a pizza delivery, you’ll still be in the green.
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[Photo: Barefoot Blonde]