When I was a kid, I was never at home. My teenage years in Singapore were filled with nights that melted into mornings walking from Orchard Road to the Esplanade, playing cards at Newton Circus Hawker Centre at 5am and cycling in the middle of the road late at night in the knowledge that there would be hardly any cars.
I might be revealing my age by saying this, but those were the days when I didn't have to worry about paying a ton of money for cab fares. The night rider buses used to run until 5am, and the price of taking a taxi home after midnight was a mere fraction of what it is today.
Maybe that's why the older I get, the more appealing I find the idea of inviting friends over to my home, or chilling out at theirs, especially since a peaceful evening out in town can now easily cost over $50.
Having your friends over might save you money, but you've got to have something going for you other than your sparkling wit if your place is going to be your crew's designated hangout. Here are six things to invest in to make your pad the place to be:
1. Cocktail shaker
Photo: The Straits Times
Cocktail shakers might not exactly be something you can buy for two bucks at Daiso, but the fact that cocktails in Singapore are so overpriced makes them a worthwhile investment. A basic $20 cocktail shaker is cheaper than a single cocktail at many bars.
Some friends of mine actually went so far as to buy a home bar complete with giant beer dispenser, but you don't have to go that far. The internet is a huge repository of not only cat videos but also cocktail recipes and instructional videos. Try to get all your booze from duty free as Singapore prices are just not acceptable!
2. Steamboat machine
Photo: The New Paper
Okay, I have to admit I really want one of these things. Not all of us are capable of whipping up edible dinners for six people on short notice, and with a steamboat machine, you'll never have to. The best thing is that steamboat dinners are always fun and social. Whether you're helping the person beside you locate his lost fishball or being the bad guy who stuffs all the vegetables into the pot, you can feel pleased that you're not paying $20 per head to enjoy the same experience elsewhere.
3. Mahjong set
Photo: The New Paper
The guy who owns the mahjong set is always the one whose house all the mahjong kakis gather at for their regular games. If you're sick of having to spend all your your winnings to take a cab back home after a mahjong game, you'd benefit from buying your own set. Before you purchase your set and table, do your research, as prices can vary greatly-you should be able to get the whole shebang for about $50 to $70.
4. Board and card games
Not everyone is a board game geek, but even if the last game your friends played was Snakes and Ladders, it's a good idea to have some games at your disposal. Unless your friends are gaming freaks, it's a good idea to steer clear of games that are hard to pick up or confusing. Games like Card Against Humanity, Dixit and Telestrations are perfect as they're super easily to learn, don't require too much strategising and are high in entertainment value.
5. Karaoke microphone
All of us have seen that middle aged man who goes to KTV pubs alone and then hogs the mike all night long, torturing the other customers with his renditions of "Wa Meng Ti". If that sounds like you, instead of subjecting the rest of the world to your warbling, you might want to consider investing in a karaoke machine instead. Considering an evening of KTV usually costs at least $25 to $35 per person, you're saving your posse quite a bit of money. You'll see sets going for more than $1,000, but since most videos are available on YouTube anyway, buy a bunch of $10-$20 microphones instead and an HDMI cable so you can hook your laptop up to the TV.
6. Nintendo Wii
Photo: The Straits Times
Most consoles lack the mass appeal that the Wii has. Thanks to games like Rock Band, Just Dance and Wii Sports, the Wii can be the perfect party host/hostess that you most certainly aren't. Just make sure the hardcore gamers don't hijack the set. While game consoles are never cheap, now that Wii U is out the Wii has gotten considerably cheaper, and you might be able to get a new one for $200+, while second hand sets can go for as low as $100+.
MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.