How to Feed & Entertain a Large Group on a Budget

How to entertain and feed a group on a budget

Holidays are a time when family and friends get together. All the extra activities and meals that goes along with that can break the budget. Discover these money saving tips of how to entertain and feed everyone.

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A popular activity is going to the movies. A movie ticket is about $10 for each person and another $8-$10 for a drink and popcorn. For the price of one person going to the movie with popcorn and a drink of about $18 – $20, a whole group could watch a movie at home for that price.

Consider these options:

Movies on Netflix or cable
Redbox movies
Hallmark movies
Purchasing a movie

There are so many classic holiday movies that can be watched year after year.

Don’t forget to make popcorn at home. The theater box size candy can be purchased for as little as a $1 at places like the Dollar Tree.

If you still want to go to the movie theater, check the schedule and try to go earlier to get the lower prices. Another way to cut down on the cost is to share the big sizes of popcorn. Often the prices between the smallest and largest bag of popcorn is not much, but you get a lot more for your money with the bigger one.


It’s fun to go bowling, but if you’re watching expenses, this can add up quickly as well.

Consider alternate options:

Video games -Wii Sports that include bowling. Of course, each year, there is different game systems. From Xbox and Nintendo to even the Atari Flashback games console.
Board games – Jenga, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Dominoes, Clue, Sorry!, Candy Land, Life, Bingo
Games outside – football, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, ladder toss, badminton, jumbo lawn bowling . (Check out this lawn bowling game – this is just one example, but there are several different types)
Jigsaw puzzles – there are a variety of # of pieces and how difficult they are
Card games – UNO, Skip Bo, Solitaire, Crazy Eights, Hearts

If the group prefers to go bowling instead of the other choices above, look to see how the bowling prices are set. Some places price the bowling per game and there may also be a set price per hour. Decide what works best for your group. If the group is real big, there will be fewer number of times for each to bowl in the hour compared to if there are just a few people. Another way to cut costs would be to skip the concession stand and arcade. Remember that the bowling rates may or may not include the shoe rental. In our area, the shoe rental is an additional cost.

Special Events –

Fireworks – this is an option for New Years and 4th of July
See lights – At Christmas time, we like to ride around town and see the lights
Football games – this is great for Thanksgiving and New Year’s
Parades – both in person or on TV, depending where you are

Bake & decorate cookies


Decide what you would like to have for the meals, snacks, and drinks ahead of time. Watch the sales to stock up if you see a good price.

These are menu items that are relatively inexpensive and easy for a large group.

Lunch or dinner
Spaghetti and meat sauce, salad, french bread, etc.
Red beans and sausage with rice, cornbread, etc.
Pulled pork on rolls or on baked potatoes, etc.
Tator tot casserole, salad, etc.
Sausage jambalaya, salad, etc.
Lasagna, salad, etc.
Gumbo with rice, potato salad, etc.

Breakfast items – combine, etc.
Cinnamon toast
Breakfast casseroles

2 liter cold drinks
Ice tea

Cupcakes or cake

The little expenses can add up quickly. If you have company coming over to stay during the holidays or any other time, consider some less expensive options for entertainment such as watching movies at home, playing board games, video games, cards, or outdoor games as alternatives to the movie theater and bowling alley. If your group still wants to go out for a movie and bowling, go during the less expensive times and cut back on the concessions to save money. Plan your meals ahead of time to watch for sales. Items like spaghetti and red beans & sausage help stretch the dollar too. Be prepared as to what expenses can occur, plan accordingly, and then enjoy the time with your family and friends!

Are you entertaining and feeding a large group? The expenses associated with this can add up quickly and break the budget. Learn tips for food and activities on a budget.