Hello all! We just had our first year anniversary as a social group! We took our first weekend trip to celebrate in Charlotte NC. It was our first trip together so we wanted to keep it simple and of course, do it all on a budget!
Here is a breakdown of our trip to hopefully inspire you with some of these money saving ideas!
We stayed in the area for 2 nights. Our first night, we actually stayed at my parent's home. What's that mean??? FREE accommodations!! lol
The next night we stayed in Uptown Charlotte. We wanted something close to all of the night spots we were going to be visiting. I booked the hotel through Hotwire and got a hot rate deal. Everyone knows a Saturday night stay anywhere near an uptown area in any city is going to be pricey. That's why I used the hot rate when you don't know which hotel you're going to get until you pay for it. Biggest tip here would be know what you're looking for. I wanted something with at least 3 stars, preferably with a free breakfast, & a pool. We got the best deal in the area and it was amazing. The Blake Hotel was very upscale & chic with a great pool and beautiful decor. Only gripe would be that the advertised free breakfast & free shuttle were not true. Be sure to call & verify things before you go on your trip so there won't be any surprises. I called the hotel so much, they knew me before I even stepped in the door lol.
When you're out of town, it's easy to rack up a large bill just on food alone. I didn't want us to have to go out 3 times a day to eat & spend money when we could use that money on other things. So I collected $15 per person for our food purchases that we would be cooking ourselves while we were at the family home. Adding some type of theme to your meals will make it seem less like we're being cheap & bring a festive vibe to it.
Here's what we did
Everyone helped cook a different meal and $15 for three meals is much cheaper than going out every time!
(Pour up) Drank:
What's a celebration without some spirits! With the $15 food fee everyone paid, that also included our liquor purchase. (So that's only $15 for food AND libations :) I bought three bottles of liquor.
My mother also contributed with large bottle of Vodka. (Love you mommy!) This was for a group of nine women & I knew some of us could really knock back a few so initially I was nervous that it wouldn't be enough. But we actually ended up with some left over so I picked the right amount of alcohol.
We pregamed every night we were in town. We played a drinking game that Friday night with the sex on the beach shots which was so much fun! (Who's the Biggest Slut is the name of the game I believe) Everyone knows if you drink before you go out, you won't spend as much at the bar! Say it with me guys: PENNYDONNA! lol Saturday we drank what was left of the margaritas & had some rum drinks at the cookout. And Saturday night before we went out it was all about shots!
I wanted to be sure I had some fun things for us to do while we were in the area. My philosophy is you can make anything fun so I don't believe in having to spend a ton of money to have a good time.
Friday night after our drinking game was over, we headed out for karaoke at a local restaurant (Beef O'Bradys) & then went dancing at the adjacent bar. Admission was free & we had already eaten so we really didn't need to spend money on bar food. It was relatively a free outing. Of course some bought more drinks when we arrived and some ordered some appetizers but it was still cheaper than going and ordering a full meal. Everyone got up and sang and danced around. We had a blast!
Saturday afternoon, before our cookout, we went to play laser tag at Sports Connection.When choosing different outings that costs money, it's best to pick a place that has many options for different budgets. Sports Connection had a variety of packages everyone could choose from. We all wanted to play laser tag together which was $9 per person. If that was the only thing someone wanted to do, then they'd be done. Sports Connection also had many other attractions including bowling, rock wall, rope course, bumper cars, & a nice arcade. I, myself picked a package which included laser tag, bowling, and $10 towards the arcade which was $20. Everyone had a great time being a kid for a few hours. Once we got to the hotel, some of us went to lounge around in the pool which is also a free way to have fun and waste some time. The weather was lovely and the ambiance on the pool deck was very relaxing.
Saturday evening we had planned on going to the Epicenter in uptown to eat dinner & do a little bar hopping. But with 9 girls trying to get ready with 2 bathrooms, it was a little late for that so we opted to go our second destination instead. Wet Willies in Charlotte had a great band playing, great drinks, & food for those who wanted to eat. Couple that with free parking and free admission...these PennyDonnas were very happy! And once again, when you're planning for a group, you want to be sure you have different options so everyone will enjoy themselves. Wet Willies was only one of the many bars that the NC Music Factory had to offer. They also had night club next door which some of us went to dance the night away. Admission was $20 which is pretty standard. Label nightclub had multiple rooms with different music & an outside patio. Once again: OPTIONS!
Sunday afternoon right before we headed back home, we stopped by Concord Mills. What's a girl's trip without a little shopping? This outlet mall is huge and few Donnas couldn't make it all around the mall (myself included lol)
I cannot say this loudly enough! CARPOOL! It's the way to go every time! One of our members was able to borrow their grandfather's SUV that could hold up to 7 people. Of course we all squished together to hold 9 when we went out & to save on parking. Everyone pitched in $12 for gas and that was that.
We had a great anniversary trip and have plenty of pictures & videos to remember it by. In total everyone relatively spent $100 for a two night stay, at least 3 meals, cocktails, and attractions. Of course some spent more when going out and doing different things but the base for everyone was pretty cheap.