25 Fun and Cheap Entertainment Ideas From "The Vampire Diaries"
“The Vampire Diaries” is a hugely successful television program, particularly among younger viewers. With love triangles, immortal drama, and multiple supernatural species, there’s lots to love.
After watching several seasons of the show, I’ve come to realize that having so many teenage characters actually builds in a certain educational element. Why? By nature, young people generally need to find affordable entertainment options in order to stay within their limited personal budgets. And yet, there’s generally something fun going on in the show when people aren’t getting eliminated. This makes "The Vampire Diaries" a seriously trusted source for affordable entertainment options. Here are 25 of my favorites from the show. (See also: 47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend)
1. Bonfire Bash
You see this party strategy is in the pilot episode. Bonfires are a great way to have free outdoor fun, and they make an excellent budget gathering for several reasons. First, the fire itself plays a large role in the evening’s entertainment. Sure, someone might have a guitar to play and sing along with, too, but in general, it’s acceptable to just have some tunes on tap by way of a stereo system. Also, people tend to expect that a bonfire party will be casual. This saves you from worrying about a ton of fancy extras and high-end finger foods. Serve up bottled, iced-down beverages in a bucket, huge pots of chili, baked potatoes in an electric roaster, and a few dunking and dipping options, and you’re in business.
2. Comet Watching
This is how the second episode of the series starts out, although the couple in question meets with an unfortunate end due to one of the local vampires being in need of a meal. But stargazing can be an inexpensive and fun way to spend an evening. Sure, you can spend big bucks on heavy duty equipment if you want to, but there are plenty of things to observe in the sky that don’t require purchasing a telescope, such as satellites, planets, meteor showers, and more.
3. Public Park Events
This comes up frequently in “The Vampire Diaries.” From heritage celebrations to outdoor movies with special picnics, enjoying events in the park is a frequent entertainment choice for the show’s characters. It’s also a strategy people can implement nearly anywhere in the world. Fireworks displays, craft shows, concerts, and more are frequently held in community parks, providing free or extremely affordable activity choices to anyone who wants to participate.
4. Make Dinner With Friends
This first occurs on “The Vampire Diaries” in the third episode of season one where everyone gets together at Elena’s house for a meal, followed by dessert and coffee. There are other examples as well, but the main idea is that friends get together and make dinner as a way to bond, socialize, and save money while having fun. It’s also a much more private venue for anything from intimate talks to loud and racy joke telling.
5. Local Sports Events
It isn’t necessary to have a major or minor league sports organization in your city in order to enjoy a love of the game, so to speak. In many small towns, the high school football and basketball teams are among the biggest local entertainment draws. Pre-game prep rallies are also fair game, which is established early on in “The Vampire Diaries.” Tickets for school ball games are typically cheap, with the added benefit of supporting the school district's athletic program.
6. Dressy Dinner Parties
The multiple gatherings held at the Lockwood residence have certainly provided plenty of opportunity for dining on frugal finger foods while getting dressed up, as did the formal house party thrown by the family originals where Klaus demonstrated a rare example of generosity with Caroline. They are all examples of how much more affordable formal events can be when held at a private home. Monies not spent on the venue can be directed towards and affordable caterer or even to hire responsible older students to serve easily-prepared treats to adult guests. Think mini quiches, baked puff pastry treats, or spanakopita made with frozen spinach.
7. Shooting Pool
This comes into play in the scenes of several episodes from “The Vampire Diaries,” particularly in those that take place at the Mystic Grill. Whether or not you have a pool table at home, pool can provide an affordable evening out with your best buds. Factor in a game timed during happy hour, and you’ve achieved even greater savings.
8. Couples’ Cooking
While similar to making dinner with friends, couples’ cooking can add another layer of intimacy, particularly for new relationships. Depending on your chosen menu, you can learn how to work as a team and find out the other’s favorite foods and preparation preferences. Stefan uses this affordable dating strategy early on in the series to break down a few trust barriers with his love interest, Elena Gilbert.
It’s pretty common for the characters of “The Vampire Diaries” to spend time volunteering, with examples ranging from fundraising car washes to historic bridge restoration projects and supporting the local historical society. If you have a favorite activity that requires support (think hiking and ATV trail maintenance), then taking time to volunteer might be something you want to add to your list of cheap and fun things to do.
While it’s true that many of the campers in “The Vampire Diaries” tend to be unfortunate victims, it’s also true that spending the night in the great outdoors is a cost-effective way to enjoy yourself. Whether it’s camping in a national park or taking off to a popular resort-style campground, pitching a tent is a winning way to pinch your entertainment pennies.
11. Surprise Parties
You don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to think of the most elaborate surprise party ideas ever. For example, when Stefan’s old friend Lexie rolls into town, she throws a simple surprise birthday party for him by having everyone head to the town’s bar and grill to surprise him. It was an easy, no fuss example of how to celebrate a special occasion with a friend in a way that people can easily support and show up for.
12. Burgers and Beverages
They may not be free, but compared to fancier food options, grabbing a couple of burgers and sharing a pitcher can be an inexpensive choice when it comes dining out. While the program shows this happening most often at the town grill, the truth is that you can also pull this off at home with a backyard barbecue.
13. Community Dances
Whether it’s the themed school dances or events held downtown, community dancing is something featured frequently on “The Vampire Diaries.” Most towns and cities have similar events that adults can participate in as well, particularly those sponsored by social organizations and municipal parks and recreation departments. They make great inexpensive dates and give those in attendance a chance to meet new people, connect with old acquaintances, and have fun.
14. Double Dating
The first time we see this on the show is when Caroline and Matt spend an evening out with Stefan and Elena. They go out for snacks and a drink, and then head to Stefan’s house for conversation and vintage sports car appreciation. Depending on what itinerary you choose for your double date, it can be a great strategy for affordable romance.
15. Heritage Celebrations
Founder’s Day seems to be the most frequent example with regards to “The Vampire Diaries,” but other examples exist — Fourth of July celebrations, state fairs, and festivals revolving around an area’s food or traditional industries are all a great way to have fun for less. Lumberjack demonstrations, clam festivals, potato feast days, and Acadian heritage events are all examples I’ve seen in the state of Maine alone.
16. Kicking It at Carnivals
Compared to theme parks such as Disneyland or even the Kennedy Space Center, community carnivals can be extremely economical. Those who enjoy time on the rides more than anything else may want to plan on attending when all-day coupons are available, but otherwise it’s an affordable indulgence to stroll and purchase a sinful snack or two. There’s no rule that says you need to participate in all of the shooting games for stuffed animals. Consider the fun house or fortune telling booths, which are achievable with a limited number of tickets.
17. Soiree at the Swimming Hole
Anyone who’s grown up rurally with access to a body of water is familiar with the classic swimming hole soiree. It first comes into play in “The Vampire Diaries” right around the time in season two where the werewolf issues are starting to make their way to the forefront. These gatherings are fun for all, great for tailgating and provide the opportunity to cool off on a hot day. (See also: Tailgating Menu Ideas)
18. Costume Parties
Masquerade balls like the one in season two can be quite affordable because you can host them in a decorated back yard. Also, people can use their regular dressy outfits and only worry about a decorative face mask as an extra cost.
19. Yard Games
The one that comes to mind first is croquet because it’s a game you see played when the show flashes back to when Catherine, Stefan, and Damon first knew each other. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with croquet, there are many other options for exercising this particular option for fun. Badminton, kick ball, and tug of war (among many others) are all affordable ways to enjoy yourself at home when company drops by or you are having a party.
While the teenage girls in the show seem to have a monopoly on this avenue of fun, the truth is even grownups can enjoy overnight parties at a vacation cottage or similar venues. It provides an inexpensive place to stay, controls food costs, and limits amusement activities to things that can easily be enjoyed at home, such as movie watching, board games, makeovers, and listening to music.
Probably the most memorable scene of singing for fun that has occurred thus far in “The Vampire Diaries” is when Caroline gets up on stage to confront her feelings for Matt through song. For the average person, this could translate into karaoke, campfire sing-a-longs, or holiday caroling sessions.
22. Family Cabin Getaways
The Gilbert family lake house is the location utilized in the television show, but a family cottage can be nearly anywhere other than your main residence that you enjoy getting away to together. Whether it’s a mountain cabin or a camp on a lake, a more remote place to spend the weekend that your family owns is a great way to build memories for less. Bonus? You can earn extra money when you’re not there by renting it out to other travelers.
23. Happy Hour
There are more types of happy hour deals than I can conceivably cover in one article. Some favorites are discounted pitchers, dollar beers, half-price cocktails, and affordable wine pours. Also common are half-price appetizers, free snacks like sushi and chicken drummies, and even prize drawings. As with most dining out ideas from the show, the Mystic Grill was the inspiration for this tip.
24. Keg Parties
While it obviously isn’t appropriate to throw one for teens, it does come up in “The Vampire Diaries” when the original vampire, Rebecca, throws one for her friends. If you’re of legal drinking age and have a ton of people dropping by for a block party, consider that this might be more affordable than purchasing multiple cases of microbrews. When a keg is involved, it’s usually expected that the food and entertainment options will be casual. This means an affordable party for whoever is picking up the tab.
Inspired by the episode where Elena and Stefan hike to the top of the town waterfall when she worries about becoming a vampire, the idea of hiking as affordable entertainment is one that people can implement nearly anywhere. All you need is proper footwear, safety supplies like water and first aid materials, good weather, and reliable terrain information. It’s an easy hobby to begin exploring without a ton of extra cash.
Having fun doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Are there any other affordable entertaining ideas from “The Vampire Diaries” that I’ve missed?