Category Archives: friendship

3 ways to beat Social Anxiety

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Rewind to be beginning of the year.  Remember when you told yourself that you would get out and meet new people?  Then the excuses started. You are busy at work, you are short of cash…the list goes on.  Deep down we know you are nervous, if not terrified. Social Anxiety can cripple any thoughts of socialising – and it is important you learn to manage it if you want a fulfilling life. 

You may have liked and shared social anxiety memes.  You know the ones which glorify our excitement about cancelled plans.  Whilst it is great to talk about mental health openly – and acknowledge the fact you have social anxiety – it is a form of anxiety which should be mastered.  Before you hurl abuse at me through the screen. Know this. I used to suffer crippling social anxiety.

Social Anxiety and Shyness are not the same thing.

You would not believe me.  I was quiet and introverted at school, yet I had a small group of friends who shared my imagination and interest in the natural world. I was shy when I first met people.  Yet this was somehow deemed as a fault and I was pushed into a drama group in order try and give me more confidence. Because there is nothing like being stood on stage in front of the whole school to cure shyness and introversion.  What I did learn is how to fake extraversion I suddenly started to care how others saw me. It was the start of my relationship with anxiety.

So, on entering a room, I was the one who talked a million miles an hour, would make others laugh with my self-deprecating humour and dressed to kill.  Yet – if you looked closely – you could recognise how anxious I was. I was often late. I wouldn’t be listening, instead over-analysing what I had just said.  If anything went wrong – it was met with diva-like tendencies.

So trust me in the advice that follows.

You cannot hide behind a screen.

Like many people –  your current friendship group have been with you since university. Back then, making friends  involved drunken declarations of affection in bathroom of a cheap club.  

As we grow older, our life choices means that we grow apart from our friends.

Maybe they are married with children, whilst you moved to another part of the country with your career.  

Maybe you are more content watching a play, than partying to the small hours.

Social media is great for connecting with like-minded individuals. But nothing beats spending quality time with friends and loved ones. Research suggests that forming strong social bonds is essential to good mental health.

So you have to get out there and *gasp* actually meet people.

As you consider the prospect of meeting new people, a million questions run through your mind.

Will anyone talk to me. What if they don’t like me? I really don’t want to walk into a room full of strangers and have everyone stare at me.

Soon all your worst nightmares are dancing through your mind and you find a reason not to attend the event you had been looking forward to.  Maybe next week?

Stop.  I have been there, I have made the excuses but then paid the price.  

I do understand.  Anxiety is an absolute nightmare.  But it can be overcome following these baby steps.

#1 Take a breath

When your body experiences anxiety, many changes can take place. The physical symptoms of anxiety include increased heart rate, pounding chest, dizziness and muscle tension. Learning to take a minute and slow down your breath can help you take back control of your body. There are several breathing techniques that can help to relax and calm the body.  When going to a social gathering, simply take a seat, get comfortable and take the biggest breath you’ve taken all day and hold it in for four seconds. Then exhale slowly, pushing out as much air as possible. Take another deep breath filling the stomach with air and continue until you feel your breath slowing down to its normal rate. Then, just focus on your next step.  Whether it is putting your coat away or seeking out the host. A word of warning, whilst it is natural to want to reach for a glass of wine to help with your nerves, this is not always helpful and can actually make you feel worse. Always drink responsibly.

#2 Don’t focus on yourself

It’s hard to stop the anxiety demons chattering when you’re in social situations. We often focus on ourselves and how others will perceive us, almost always assuming it will be negative. The thought that everyone will be looking at you when you walk into a room and judging you in one way or another. This isn’t the case. Stop focusing on yourself and what other people are thinking of you. Focus on other people, try to be present and make genuine connections.

Anxiety isn’t as visible as you may think. Chances are that there are others feeling the same way. Even if someone notices you’re a little nervous, they’re not thinking of you negatively. No-one is perfect. We all suffer embarrassment at some point.

In a small study where three job candidates were being evaluated for the same position, they chose the interviewee with great scores who spilt coffee all over himself. Instead of choosing a perfect candidate they chose someone who made a small blunder. Their reasoning was that he seemed far more approachable!!

So remember.  99.9% of the people you meet are nice and would not write you off if you are nervous. Instead focus your attention on the person you are talking to and ask them open questions about themselves.  It takes the pressure off yourself and has the added bonus of making the other person feel great about themselves too!

#3 Seek out social situations.

Yes, you heard me. Making a conscious effort to be more social is how you actually overcome social anxiety. Little by little,  the anxiety starts to fade.  Soon it is replaced by genuine -and enviable – confidence.   Actively look for supportive social environments that can help you overcome your fears.  Perhaps start by looking at groups who offer events that appeal to your interests. You’ll also be engaging with people who have similar interests so you’ll know at least one thing you can talk about and will have in common.  If you are nervous about your ability to hold a conversation, then there are plenty of courses where you can work on your communication skills and build rewarding relationships slowly.

It can help to attend an event  or gathering with a friend, or even just let the host or organiser know how you are feeling.  I remember confessing my nerves to a host in advance of a Social Circle event. She was so kind and offered to meet me outside.   Of course, by that point I already felt I knew someone – which gave me a much-needed boost of confidence.  

Be kind to yourself

Social anxiety can have a massive negative effect on numerous areas of your life. From family life to education as well as work and close relationships. It can be helpful to list different situations from low anxiety to full panic attack.  Choose events that are in your comfort zone, perhaps that have minimal interaction like going to the cinema and then progress gradually from there. 

Overcoming social anxiety is a long journey and it takes time so be kind and patient with yourself.  On days where your anxiety is high, do not be tempted to overlook the progress you have made.  

Is your social anxiety is constantly interfering with your daily life? Then don’t hesitate to seek professional help in whatever form you feel comfortable looking for. There are great ways to help overcome your social anxiety including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Hypnotherapy. 

Although it seems like an impossible obstacle, it’s so worth overcoming so you can live your life to the fullest.

The Reason Why I started Social Circle.

 

Recently I questioned the reason why I started Social Circle

Recently I questioned the reason why I started Social Circle

I recently listened to a Tedx Talk on Finding your Why.  It really got me thinking. It reminded me of why I started Social Circle in the first place – and my vision for the future.  Believe me I needed the reminder. When Taxes are due and I am having to explain myself three times to get stuff done, you can easily lose sight of your passion.   So I sat down and thought carefully about the  reason why Social Circle exists, and why it will always be my passion.

#1 I was just like you.

I was in my thirties when my marriage broke down, and I made a life-changing decision to move to Manchester with my job.  I had no one. My colleagues were nice enough but going out for ‘ a swift one’ after work wore thin. I decided I needed to take action to go out and meet new people. Back then, there was little to cater for my age group and interests.  So I put an advert out inviting people to meet me in my local pub and the rest – as they say – is history.

#2 Being Sociable is a Life saver.

As much as you can enjoy the single life, loneliness in a big city can pave the way to depression and other mental health issues.  Having people around you that share your humour and interests can be lifesaving at times, and the key to a long happy life. My friends from the early days of Social Circle are still by my side – and kicking my ass.  It gives me great pleasure in seeing Social Circle members form deep and meaningful friendships with each other. #Notallheroeswearcapes

#3 Life does not revolve around a single interest.

There are plenty of social groups catering for a single hobby, such as hiking or photography.  I joined a few walking groups myself. However, I was quickly discouraged by the fact that when it came to exploring life outside the ramblers group that people were not so keen.  I wanted to meet people like me, who had a thirst for life and all it offers. As it happens, my Friday night drinking buddies were also up for exploring life outside the Slug & Lettuce. Soon, I was arranging walks, nights at comedy clubs and meals out.  Today we offer 100+ events every month.

#4 It takes f**king courage to introduce yourself to others.

So you want to meet people. Great. Then the fears kick in and before long you have talked yourself out of going. You find your excuses and then Boom! Another year has flown by without you meeting anyone new. I get it.  Truth is that it takes a lot of courage to introduce yourself to anyone, never mind walk into room full of strangers. It’s the reason why –  when I could not be in 100 places at once –  I enlisted the help of our expert hosts. Our hosts will run out into the rain to rescue you when you are frozen with nerves at the doors of a restaurant. I make sure they send everyone a text, or call nervous newbies, because I know exactly what it takes to turn up to that first event.

#5 I wanted to explore the world with others.

I love travelling.  It feeds my soul. I am happy to travel alone, but some experiences are so much better shared with others.  I found that travel for single professionals can be a little pot luck at times – you can be changed through the nose, or have an amazing time.  So when my Social Circle members suggested we organised weekends away, I jumped at the chance. It is through these budget friendly weekends away that I have managed to travel extensively, tick off a few of my bucket list activities and meet the love of my life.  This year, we are going to so many exciting new places I can hardly contain myself. I am even gatecrashing the Galway trip as a co-host as I have always wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher.

#6 I got sick of small print and hidden costs.

I am a man who likes to keep things simple and straightforward.  No – I don’t want to read 100 clauses of legal mumbo jumbo. I certainly don’t want to turn up to your free event and find I am being charged for the privilege.  And if I am paying something, I expect to get what I paid for. I found a lot of places short-changed me, so I was determined to be open and honest with my own members.  That the reason why you get unlimited free events with your membership, and anything that does cost that little bit extra is clearly marked on the calendar.

#7 Because I just love bringing people together.

When it come down to it, I am a big ol’ softy at heart.  I love bringing friends and family together, and still regularly rally them round to mine for pancakes or a movie.  Over the years I have run Social Circle, I have seen shy wallflowers bloom into confident socialites. People stepping out of their comfort zone and finding their passion and purpose through trying new activities.  I have introduced many husbands and wives to each other. Everyday, I hear what a difference being a part of Social Circle is making to our members.

Its that, when it comes down to it, that is why I battle through the hard times.

I just love seeing people find happiness.

So tell me, what is your Why?

Q & A Why should I join Social Circle?

Why join social circle? Well for starters we are your kind of people...

Why join social circle? Well for starters we are your kind of people…

 

In my last blog, I invited you to send me questions you wanted answering as part of my regular Q & A spot.  You didn’t disappoint! Many of you asked ‘Why should I join Social Circle?’ I am glad you asked. With so many free groups like MeetUp out there, it is a question that will cross the minds of anyone thinking of joining.  So I put together a little list of reasons that makes social circle so good.

Firstly, it is important to know why I set up Social Circle. After travelling and living abroad during my teens and twenties, my life turned upside down when my marriage fell apart. I found myself moving to Manchester to accept another job.  In my thirties, totally alone and in need of company, I put an advert up to meet like-minded people. The rest was history. From that, I built a business, found the love of my life and introduced hundreds of people to their best friends and significant others.  Social Circle is my passion and life purpose.

  1. Time Saved Scrolling.

Today, people are still craving connection with others.  We look to modern technology to help us make friends.  You can either meet individuals or groups with a single common interest. Firstly, there is not just one group on MeetUp or similar, but hundreds in some cities.  What if you want to do more than one activity? Are you meant to spend yet more hours finding other groups? At this rate you can easily spend more time on the app than you can out socialising. Then there are the various charges for tickets, or admin costs!   

I know variety is the spice of life, which is why our events calendar is jam packed with wonderful events from meals out to cinema nights and it is all included in one price. We are web and phone savvy too, so you can just book on any event with a single click.

2. No Drama

Have you ever tried to organise a night out with your friends?  How about a weekend away? First there is the alarming rate at which people develop a mystery illness and have to drop out. Then there is always someone who wants to go to someplace else and is very vocal about it.  Or you end up the only single one amongst couples. At Social Circle there is none of that. When we organise our calendar, we book everything. The tickets, the table and the time. Our weekends away are organised with military precision.  If you want to join us – great! If not, then there will be something else you fancy.  All you have to do is show up and meet people who like the exact same things.

3. Help with the nerves.

I am a confident and sociable guy, and I get nervous when I meet new people.  I can completely understand how terrifying it must be if you have anxiety in social situations or are more introverted.  Can you rely on amateur organisers to understand? Some will be sympathetic, but others may not have a clue and it can be difficult reaching out and asking for help.  

Our hosts always call and text ahead, and will run out and meet you if you have an attack of nerves at the door. I am also proud to say we have members who are warm and welcoming and will always take any nervous newbies under their wing.

4. Fresh and Familiar.

Part of why we reach out to social groups is to meet new people.  So imagine you meet a kindred spirit on an event, forget to swap numbers, and never see them again. Ever.   Lets face it, we don’t just want to meet new people – we want to make new friends. It can be difficult when there are so many people attending an event that you end up being the new guy (or gal) at every single event.  So what is great about being a member is that other people are members too!

We have a members facebook group and regular events means that you will start to bump into the people you gel with more often. Some people have been members for many years and have met their best friends and partners through social circle.   For me, providing a membership encourages people to attend events regularly so you get to meet new people and see some familiar faces, that way friendships can really start to blossom naturally.

5. Your kind of people.

The hardest part of using apps is trying to find people who are – well – more like you!  Maybe you moved to Manchester with your career and are looking to set down roots.  Perhaps you are the only divorcee in a social circle of smug marrieds.  Either way, hanging out with a group of twenty somethings may not bring you the friends you seek.   When looking for friends – we not only want to share interests – but values and life experiences.  We know our members well and many share stories similar to my own. Like attracts like right?  Social Circle is full of great, friendly professionals, aged thirty plus who are just as keen to meet you.

Still wonder if it is for you?

You can reason with yourself, mull it over, and ponder the pros and cons all you want.  Its not getting you off the sofa and out there. If you want to see Social Circle for yourself, meet other members and hear about their experiences, and see how events are organised then come along!  You can attend an event for free

3 Brilliant Ways to Meet New People.

Ready to Mingle? Find out the best ways to meet new people.

Ready to Mingle? Find out the best ways to meet new people.

 

I think most people know that expanding your social circle is key to finding fulfilling friendships and romantic relationships.  As a social guy, I am often asked for advice on how to meet new people. Of course, Social Circle was founded on the principle of bringing like-minded people together.  However, over the years I have learned that certain events make it even easier for people to get chatting and make new friends. So here are my top 3 activities to meet new people and make friends.

#1 Go for a Walk.

Walking is one of my favourite activities.  Whether it be a leisurely stroll around local woods or something more challenging, walking has several benefits.

  • it gets you out of the office and moving which contributes to your health and wellbeing.  
  • Fresh air and great views are great for mental health.
  • You can talk to other walkers at the same time!

There are loads of MeetUps and similar groups that focus on walking, although our members tell us they prefer the way we do things rather than going it alone in a crowd.  However, the fact is however you you do it, it gives you time to chat to other people and exchange details. This makes it a winning activity for meeting new people.

#2 Find your Foodie Heaven.

Lets face it, we are a nation of food lovers.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a food snob then it is easy to find kindred spirits in Manchester.  Firstly, have you tried signing up to group cooking lessons?  It is a perfect way to meet people who are also refining their skills.  Foodie events like food tours of Manchester and taster evenings also give you a chance to mingle with other food lovers.  Finally, look for events at your favourite restaurants  – what better way to get to know people than sharing a meal?

Plus you can check for any disgusting habits before you take someone on a date.  Sloppy habits can be dealbreakers for some you know!

#3 Mingle All the Way.

If you are looking to meet new people then take the bull by the horns and get out there.  There is literally zero chance of you meeting new people if you are sat at home.

Maybe you can initiate a conversation with a random in a bar, but if that makes you nervous, then why not meet up with others as part of an organised night out?  

Just a reminder – meet and mingle parties are not all about dating – they can be a great way to let your hair down and meet new people in Manchester.  So if you are keen to expand your social circle then why not look for a few mingle events in the area? Maybe you will be lucky enough to join in the fun at one of Manchester’s hottest venues, totally free of charge (hint, hint)   If you have never been to a meet and mingle event – then we tell you what to expect here.

Of course, rather than searching for various events, you could just join us and chose from 100s of fun events each and every month. 

24 Ways to Socialise this Christmas: A Socialites Advent Calendar.

We have the ultimate Christmas List for Socialites.

We have the ultimate Christmas List for Socialites.

Are you feeling the festive spirit? Don’t want to limit yourself to the office party? If you are looking to try new activities and meet new people in Manchester this winter then check our own version of an Advent Calendar for Socialites by exploring 24 Ways to Socialise this Christmas.

Unleash Your Inner Child.

You don’t need children to enjoy these fun activities. Grab some friends and get very silly.

    1.Head out to with friends to  Salford Quays on the Trial of the Snowman. There are twelve          painted Snowman dotted around the Quays and Media City. Can you find them all? We did!

  1. Make like an Arctic Explorer by travelling through the Ice Caverns in Manchester, battling with polar bears and even a Yeti on your way to the heart of Santas Grotto.  If you are a good girl or boy, you may even get to meet Santa himself. What do you mean you are 31? We are going!
  2. Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Ste-phen.  Whether you are the next star of the Voice or mumble along and hope no one notices, there is nothing like a bit of Carol Singing to get you feeling all festive.
  3. Why not catch a Panto?  You can shout ‘he’s behind you’ all you want at comedian Les Dennis and marvel at the stunning scenery as we follow Cinderella in her quest to meet Prince Charming.
  4.  If nostalgia, Christmas party anthems  and a little bet gets your jingle on, then Grosvenor Casino are offering a fun evening that will get you Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and hopefully leaving with some gold coins in your pocket.
It does not matter if you are 35 going on 6 - come meet Santa

It does not matter if you are 35 going on 6 – come meet Santa

Sparkling Performances.

Christmas is not just about falling asleep in front of the TV during Home Alone.  It can be a great way to explore your cultured side by seeing the best in theatre, dance and of course film.

  1.  Swan Lake is at the Lowry until 1st December 2018.  This award-winning re-imagining of Tchaikovsky classic features a talented all-male cast which shattered traditions  in this passionate and witty modern masterpiece.
  2. Ah we love a little festive romance. Why not watch Love Actually and hold back the tears at *that* scene whilst a live orchestra plays the music?
  3. We all love the ultimate Christmas movie, Die Hard!  Come watch a screening in the beautiful Victoria Baths for a little nostalgia.
  4. Horror fans will love Grimmfest screening of Krampus at Manchester Central Library.  Included in the price is a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Lovely!
  5.  If you love  musical zombie films (who doesn’t) as much as Christmas then Anna and the Apocalypse is a real treat. We have it on very good authority that it is brilliant. Keep an eye on the Social Circle calendar for more!
  6. Have a Wicked Christmas at The Palace Theatre this year. Winner of over 100 international awards, Wicked has been casting its magical spell across the world for over a decade.

Get in the Festive Spirit.

Nothing Beats Mulled Wine at Christmas

Nothing Beats Mulled Wine at Christmas

Want something to make your cheeks rosy?  There are lots of lovely places where you can have a cheeky tipple.

  1. If you cannot wait until December (we can’t) then why not join us in exploring Didsbury’s hottest bars for a pre-Christmas warm up? .  We are meeting at the Metropolitan on Friday at 8pm.
  2. Collect a mug, fill it up with mulled wine and get  exploring Manchester’s Christmas Market. If you fancy company then come join us?
  3. How about some bubbles or even a delicious Baileys Hot Chocolate as you listen to some Christmas Music and chat to new friends at the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor.
  4.  You cannot get more festive than dressing up as Santa and heading to some of the best bars in town with a great bunch of people.  Expect plenty of festive spirit and laugh as you ho-ho-ho along with the epic Santa Pub Crawl.

Festive Foodies.

Christmas in Manchester is perfect for Foodies.

Christmas in Manchester is perfect for Foodies.

Christmas brings out the foodies in all of us, as it is a chance to savour the finest treats as we reward ourselves for a busy year.

  1. If you want a sophisticated treat then why not have a festive afternoon tea, complete with mince pies, at the beautiful Hotel Gotham?
  2. Join us for a festive sunday lunch at The Lime Tree where you can enjoy such treats as  roast turkey or beef and Christmas pudding ice-cream.
  3. If you want to take a break from Christmas shopping and enjoy a lavish 3 course dinner at Harvey Nichols then you can enjoy the festive menu for just £30.
  4. Of course if you need something for your own Christmas table then check out the makers markets in Manchester NQ for some delicious treats, or even sample some vegan festive fayre at the festival.

Work off those mince pies.

Fancy a Jingle Bell Jog? (c) Sports Tours International

Fancy a Jingle Bell Jog? (c) Sports Tours International

It may be Christmas but you can still have fun whilst working off a few mince pies.  These events have the feel-good factor of raising money for charity too!

  1. Run, Jog or Walk around Media City in your Santa suit for the annual Jingle Bell Jog on 1st December 2018.

21.If you like actual snow at Christmas then why not pop along to watch, or participate, in the Santa Ski on 10th December 2018

22.Christmas would not be the same without ice skating, whether you are a semi-professional or have never tried it, you can skate to your heart’s content at First Street in Manchester

23.If you enjoy walking then Dunham Massey has lit up the estate with baubles and lights.  If you want to avoid the crowds then come join us for a crisp morning walk around Styal Woods.

Party like it is 2019

  1. If you want to welcome the new year in style, join our NYE party at Albert Schloss.  Expect free flowing prosecco, mouth-watering canapes whilst you watch some of the best burlesque performances and dance to live music until the clock strikes twelve. (and beyond).  Places are limited so get booking.

Our Gift to you!

As you have been very good this year and decided to have a lot of festive fun, we are offering you socialites a whole month of socialising for just £5.  Quick, this festive offer is only open until 30 November 2018 so you best get your sleigh and ho-ho-ho all the way to a a festive season full of fun and new friends.

An Open Letter to Britain’s Loneliest Woman

Emily Fox, 32, describes herself as Britain's Loneliest Woman. (c) Caters

Emily Fox, 32, describes herself as Britain’s Loneliest Woman. (c) Caters

Yesterday I read about Emily Fox, a 32 year old single mum who has dubbed herself Britain’s Loneliest Woman.  The message that it is not just the elderly that suffer from loneliness resonated with many people across the world.  My heart broke when I read her story, so I wanted to write an open letter to her, and anyone else who may feel exactly the same.

Dear Emily.

It takes great courage to admit that you are lonely, and to reach out to people in order to make friends.

I know this, because I have been there too.

Just over 10 years ago, my marriage broke down and I moved halfway across the world from Australia to the UK.  A  father of two and in my thirties,  I didn’t know a single soul in Manchester. 

I could have easily isolated myself and simply gone about my routine.  

Get up, work, watch TV, have a drink, go to bed. Repeat.

Emily says shopping is the only chance she gets to interact with others. But it need not be that way  (c) Caters.

Emily says shopping is the only chance she gets to interact with others. But it need not be that way (c) Caters.

I know many people that shut out their loneliness by doing the same thing.

But I didn’t.  Instead I decided that I was being given a clean slate to find myself and build a dream life.

I know it can be difficult socialising when you have children.

Family comes first in my book. You have three beautiful children, and dedicate your time to them, but there are still lots of things you can do.

You are not the first parent to crave adult conversation, and you will not be the last.

 Family fun days, inviting other parents out for a coffee, or organising a walk in the park with dogs and children will enhance your life and theirs. Even when you are doing the weekly shop, go with someone and chat over the groceries.

Reaching out is the first step.

I know since sharing your story, lots of people have reached out to connect with you.  So your courage in speaking up is already leading you down the path to fulfilling friendships.

Social Media is great for finding like-minded individuals.  Personally, I find that fulfilling friendships are formed from meeting in person. There is something really special when you find a connection with someone who laughs with you and shares your passion in life.

I found great friends  (and my dream career) by reaching out to others.

I found great friends (and my dream career) by reaching out to others.

I put an advert up inviting other professionals to join me for a drink.

“What if no one showed up?”  But they did.  Men. Women. Every single one of them just like you and I.  Craving connection and friendship with others.

My new friends and I went from our weekly Friday night at the pub, to going abseiling in wales to going on holiday together.  I loved every minute.

It was how I founded Social Circle.  Now I have my dream career helping people, just like you, meet new people and find new friends.  I even found the love of my life this way.

Finding friends need not be difficult.  You just have to know where to look.

Finding friends need not be difficult. You just have to know where to look.

It is important to carve out time in your diary for you.

I know you say you don’t have much support, but it is out there. Whether it is an hour or two, use your family, willing friends or a childminder to give you a much-needed couple of hours break from the kids.  Use that time to try out new activities and do the things you have always wanted to do. Don’t feel guilty (or let anyone make you feel that way). Taking time for you is important and benefits the whole family.

Always wanted to paint? Look for art workshops and PopUp painting in your area.

Want to travel?  Learn a language of a country you want to visit.

I promise you will inevitably start making friends with people who share your passion.   

Do you fancy letting your hair down and going out for a drink with a few adults?   There are plenty of ways you can achieve. Start looking for groups like Social Circle – or do what I did. Start your own.

I wish you the best of luck Emily, now is the time for a glorious new beginning filled with friendship and fun.

Lots of Love.

Steve x

25 Thrifty Ways to Socialise on a Shoestring

There are very thrifty ways to Socialise on a Shoestring.

There are very thrifty ways to Socialise on a Shoestring.

 

As Christmas approaches, it is natural to be feeling the pressure to both socialise and watch our pockets so we can afford presents for our friends and family.  We have to admit that we are no strangers to putting a round on the credit cards at times. But given we all need to watch the pennies, we came up with 25 Thrifty Ways to Socialise on a Shoestring.

Debt at Christmas time is a serious issue.  One third of british households put Christmas on Credit, with many falling behind on essential household bills. The problem we found is that much of the advice out there says ‘ cut down on socialising’.  Well Okay maybe you want to spend the Christmas season watching old movies in your pyjamas. But for those of us who like to get social, the current advice on being frugal is frustrating.

Follow our handy guide and enjoy time with friends without the fear of those awkward phone calls to your credit card company. Psst – We even have a little bonus tip right at the end.

Love cinema? Skip the popcorn for a pocket friendly trip.

Love cinema? Skip the popcorn for a pocket friendly trip.

Thrifty Theatre & Film Lovers

  1. Invite your friends round to watch a classic film at yours. Do what we do and get everyone to vote on what film they want to watch.
  2. Skip the popcorn and drinks bought at the cinema and take your own.
  3. Take advantage of discounted cinema tickets such as Meerkat Movies or look out for price drops earlier in the week.  If you really want to see the latest blockbusters then click here.
  4. Go to a film festival.  You get to see new and independent films and often the tickets are much cheaper than your standard blockbuster movies.  
  5. Sign up for the mailing list at your favourite theatres and get notified when there is discounted tickets to big shows.  The Lowry offers £5 tickets to locals, but you have to grab them whilst you can!
You can save money when out for drinks.

You can save money when out for drinks.

The Drinks are on Us.

  1. Have a wine and cheese party at home where people bring their own.  Set the maximum expenditure as £10 and vote on your favourite wine.
  2. Head to a bar that offers a deal on your favourite tipples, look out for extended happy hours or bottles.
  3. Have a Cheap Challenge on any bar crawl.   You set a budget for the evening and see how many drinks you can have within your budget.  Winner gets any spare change, or a drink bought by the others. You would be surprised how competitive it gets!
  4. Have a mix and match party, get everyone to bring a spirit and mixer (again set a budget) and have fun making your own cocktails.
  5. Limit how much you have.  It sounds simple, but just a one or two drinks followed by soft drinks means you get to socialise, keep a clear head and money in your pocket.
Be a frugal foodie by hosting dinner parties.

Be a frugal foodie by hosting dinner parties.

Frugal Food Lovers.

  1. Order water for the table.  Drinking water helps curb your appetite and will save you pounds and calories from overeating.
  2. Share!  Again another simple tip but ordering shareable dishes splits the costs.  Alternatively, choose mini desserts alongside coffee to reduce the bill.
  3.  Have a potluck supper.  Winter is great for having an at home dinner party.  Jazz it up and make it themed, or simply choose who brings what and relax and enjoy yourself.
  4. Dine out midweek when restaurants are offering low cost set menus.
  5. Host a murder mystery party at home.  You can download kits and set the menu. It is good fun.
Take friends to an art exhibition for free!

Take friends to an art exhibition for free!

Culture without the credit cards.

  1. Art Galleries and Museums are generally free admission.  Enough said.
  2. Look out for free events such as those offered by Quays Culture.
  3.  Start a thrift book club.  Set a theme, head to a second hand book store or download free titles from Kindle, and get discussing!
  4. Join in a PopUp Painting Event and give the artwork as a gift.
  5. Indulge your inner History Geek by joining a guided walk around the area.

Spend a thrifty afternoon crafting with friends.

Spend a thrifty afternoon crafting with friends.

Daylight Savings Time:

  1. Meet with friends for coffee and Grab a freebie using perks from apps and mobile phone providers such as O2
  2. Go thrift shopping.  Set a budget and hit your local charity shops.  
  3. Put together a picnic and head out to the countryside or park for a walk.

24.Grab your friends and head out for a day trip to another City to explore its culture.

  1. Get crafty.  We love making decorations and cards with friends over snacks at home.

While these are simple ideas, they can have a big effect on your finances and happiness overall.  The trick is to set a realistic budget for socialising and prioritise events accordingly.

In this way, saving money is a lot like trying to lose weight.  You can absolutely have that pizza but it may mean you eat lightly for the rest of the day to ensure you stay within calories.

While you might not want  to say you’re saving money, your more astute friends might notice that you’ve become a bit more resourceful. If anything, that’s a pretty awesome quality to have in a friend.

Want to socialise for less than 65 pence per day?

Want to socialise for less than 65 pence per day?

Bonus Tip

If you still like to go out and meet new people, then you could consider joining a social group like Social Circle.  We offer hundreds of free events every, such as cinema outings and walks, every month from 65p per day. That’s less than a chocolate bar! You can even try an event for free!

So what money saving tips do you have for socialising?

25 Thoughts you have when you attend a Mingle Party.

 

Ever wondered what a Mingle Party is like?

Ever wondered what a Mingle Party is like?

 Thanks to the huge number of singles nights in Manchester, people have mixed thoughts about what a ‘Meet and Mingle’ may entail.  Given last night Social Circle hosted its annual Mingle party at the Portland Bar & Grill, I thought I would share the thoughts and conversations you have when you attend a Mingle party so you know what to expect when attending an event to meet new people in Manchester.

On deciding whether to turn up

  1. Do I want to go?  I feel terrible, I don’t feel sociable,  drinking is only going to make matters worse.

2. Maybe I will just cancel.

3. Moping won’t help.  Perhaps I should go out?

4. Ok I will go out, but I am not drinking.  A hangover will only make matters worse.

5. Oh god what if I see my ex and his new girl on the tram on the way there. I will arrive an emotional wreck.

6. I will stay for an hour, two hours tops.  I have stuff to do tomorrow. Plus self care and all that.

7. *Spends an hour getting ready*  Glad I only had salad for lunch this dress is unforgiving.  Definitely no drinking though.

Social Circle Members Pete and Angela discuss travels with Host Ruth

Social Circle Members Pete and Angela discuss travels with Host Ruth.

On Arrival

8. Do not trip up the stairs. Do not trip up the stairs.

I am greeted by Steve at the top.  Who tells me to go get a drink from the bar downstairs.  I tell him I am not drinking and not staying long.

9.  Do not fall down the stairs. Do not fall down the stairs.

10. She looks familiar.  Is she from social circle too?

11. “I will have a double Gin and Tonic please”

12. There are lots of people here.  Who do I know.? * Makes bee line for Matt who has been on a few events with me.*

Aida, Pauline and Vanessa were only too happy to talk friendship and getting the most out of life.

Aida, Pauline and Vanessa were only too happy to talk friendship and getting the most out of life.

 

Doing the Mingle Thing

Peter comes over to me. “Are you my honey?”  Before I get creeped out he shows me his Moshi monster card.  We all have them.  There is a bottle of champagne up for grabs for the team that find each other.  I have jeepers. “Sorry Peter, I am not your honey.

Harvey comes over and shakes my hand warmly.  I ask what interests him. He reels off a number of exciting sounding interests from dancing to rock climbing.  He asks me the same. “errr….I like the meals out??” God I sound boring.

13. Where did that Prosecco appear from?

I am talking to a couple of people who are recent joiners.  Turns out they are also lawyers. How do we find each other.  Lawyers always manage to find each other in a room. Start talking shop.  “I am an employment law specialist” escapes my lips. No. No I am not talking shop.

14. My Prosecco somehow refilled itself.

I go to talk to man with epic tash.   He is called Dave and loves the walking retreats. Dave tells me “ I love  the fact you can just turn up to a walk or a weekend away and it’s all organised. So many great memories.”   I ask for a photo. He negotiates a selfie.

Mingle Party Selfie!

Steve comes over.  Tells everyone about that time I went to a whisky tasting festival and was ill for about a week afterwards.

15. I am not drinking the whisky.

16. *drinks the whisky*

Pauline, Nicola, Aida and Heather discuss life, love and everything over a glass (or three) of bubbly.

Pauline, Nicola, Aida and Heather discuss life, love and everything over a glass (or three) of bubbly.

On Friendship and Dating

I head over to Pauline, another familiar face, and tell her about the blog.  “Oh Social Circle has given me so much”  She gives Aida a big hug “I found my best friends here”.

I gatecrash their conversation.  Aida is approaching a major birthday and Pauline wants to throw her a party.  Aida has some sage advice for me “Don’t wait for some birthday or event to live your life.  Material things are not important. Live your life. Spend time with good people.” #truthbomb

17. Ohh chocolate.

I get talking to some new faces, including Alex.  Turns out me and Alex cancelled the exact same Pilates class which was run by Nicola.   Must be fate.

Three ladies who should have met at a Pilates class, but instead met at the Mingle Party. Must be Fate.

Three ladies who should have met at a Pilates class, but instead met at the Mingle Party. Must be Fate.

Alex tells me that she was in two minds about coming, and almost cancelled but decided to give it a shot.  I completely understand how she feels and I have been a host for 3 years. I decide to introduce her to some other people.

We enter the conversation at the moment where Robert  is saying “And that’s how I ended my Friday evening covered in chocolate”.  Oh god what is this.

18. *Opens another bottle of prosecco*

Founder Steve with Social Circle Member Vanessa.

Founder Steve swoops in for a photo.

19. I must go soon it’s already 10:40.

Steve hands me the camera and tells me to take a selfie.  He actually meant to take a photo of him and Vanessa Now feel like a double chinned muppet.  *Takes pictures*

Chat to Robert about Social Circle.  He has been a member for a couple of months but talks himself out of events. “I like to go out with someone I have met before” I tell him he has to come out first so he gets to know people.   He resolved to come out to this one and is enjoying himself. He gives us permission to nag him into attending more events. #challengeaccepted.

 

20. No more Whiskey Steve you know I can’t handle it.   *Drinks more whisky.*

21. Talk to Pete and Nigel about blogging. Pete confesses to enjoying them. It does give me a little boost. Get talking about last weeks blog and how people are really shy when socialising if they have gained a bit of weight.  Tell everyone it really does not make a difference. 

22. What time is the last tram?  12:34. Ok it’s 11:15 I best head off soon.

23. “Have you taken some good photos?”

*I try to take more photos as Steve also decides he will take photos and gets in my way*

The group at my table start talking about dating and my recent heartbreak.   Turns out most people have a similar story of falling for someone only for them to ghost you and move onto their next ‘true love.’

24. We all agree dating is sh*t regardless of your age or gender.

 Maybe it’s the prosecco or maybe it’s just because Albert Schloss does the *best* Sunday lunches I ended up telling all about how much I am looking forward to hosting next week’s event.

Continue talking to Alex and Robert.  We decide that given we have been talking all night and want to go to the same events we should keep in touch and exchange numbers.

25. It’s now 12:15.  I really must go but by this point I don’t want to.

These three lucky ladies won a bottle of Champagne in the Moshi Monster Meet Up challenge.

These three lucky ladies won a bottle of Champagne in the Moshi Monster Meet Up challenge.

 

 

The Morning After. 

It was a fantastic event as usual, with a good mix of new faces and regular Social Circle members.  Whilst the majority of members are single, most have not joined with dating in mind and just want to meet and socialise with people who are at a similar stage in life.  Far from the awkward and forced conversations you get at ‘singles’ events, or the tense ‘networking event’ it was a relaxed and fun party where I was able to let my hair down and forget my troubles for a few hours. The Mingle party proved great way to chat to new people about life, love and everything over some free flowing Prosecco.