Creative ways to stay indoors

London is expensive, and most of us can’t afford to go out gallivanting as often as we’d like.

We’re all familiar with the Fear that stalks us into consciousness at 7:30am on a Saturday morning after a heavy one. You rush out of bed to pat down your pockets or empty out your handbag. Phone…keys…wallet…everything’s (hopefully) there. Breathe. You’ve made it back to base, belongings unmolested by London’s cutpurses. You down a pint of water and crawl back to bed like the toxic mess you are, relieved – despite the nausea – that at least you’ve still got everything.

And then you check your online banking, and realise that although it was only pay day a week ago, you managed to spend enough last night to render all possibility of going out soon completely nil, and also you’ll be spending the rest of the month subsisting on dry baked potatoes and malt loaf.

NEVER FEAR, because I am here to remind you that it is totally possible to enjoy yourself in the space you probably pay through the arsehole for. IT’S THERE ALREADY, THERE IS UNLIMITED FUN TO BE HAD. Here’s some shit we’ve done before:


Three of us did this instead of going out to a National Burger Day event because we were all broke as balls. We each made a different kind of slider (mine were pulled pork with BBQ sauce) and then sat around eating them and vaguing speculating whose was best. (It was blatantly mine.)

This can be applied to basically anything; we’ve done it with tapas before too. If you have a smallish group, offer to make the main course (like a curry, or a roast) if everyone else makes the starter, sides and dessert. And cheeseboard. Ver’ important, the cheeseboard.

National Burger Day flags
Top tip: Waitrose do the world’s pissiest little buns, literally about 2 inches across, that are perfect for this kind of thing.


Speaking of cheese, my flatmate James 1 and I recently went to Kyle Whittington’s tea & cheese tasting evening (review here), came home and promptly organised a soirée autour du fromage. We visited La Fromagerie in Islington for supplies, gave our chosen specimens codenames and invited guests to match them up with descriptions we stuck to the wall. A £10 contribution per person covered nine different fancy cheeses (including Stinking Bishop, which was, uh, polarising to say the least), welcome Prosecco and some posh bread from the Euphorium bakery.

Cheese prep! We had nine cheeses so codenamed them after the planets. The Stinking Bishop was, of course, Uranus.


Sure, you may not be qualified to tell others about noses and bouquets and legs, but it can definitely be fun to see how full of shit your self-declared oenophile mates are. Get everyone to chip in £10-15, take the cash to a specialist wine shop and explain your mission. Buy a range of very good and good wines, then decamp to the supermarket for a couple of bottles of the cheapest, nastiest piss-water you can find (HELLO, Sainsbury’s table wine!) You could even throw in some non-alcoholic plonk as a wildcard. Design a scorecard for attendees to rate the wines in order of whichever they think is most expensive, with extra points for correctly identifying notes in flavour.

And remember to buy a prize for the winner. 🙂


Awhile ago I invited my favourite lady friends round for a evening of vintage-inspired glamour. We had a professional hair and makeup artist come and doll us up, and then we all went out to a cabaret show. We saw The Crazy Horse when it was on at the South Bank, which was fabulous although quite expensive, but London has LOADS of fantastic cabaret shows that don’t cost too much (suggestions: Cafe du Paris (review here), Cellardoor and Madame Jojo’s). It’s the drinks that get you, of course, but you can get around this by making sure you are well and truly fucked before leaving the building.

DIY Vintage Night Out

Our hair and make-up was done by Miss Honey Bare, who came to my flat in North London and spent four hours with the eight of us for a total for £150. (This was a couple of years ago now, so prices may have changed.) Alternatively, Rockalily Cuts near Hoxton specialise in vintage-style dos! Or, of course, you can YouTube it. 🙂

Retro night out

So many bobby pins!

Pro tip: smuggle a hip flask in your knickers.

Hip flask


Like a girly sleepover, for grown-ups. Strike a bargain with a mobile beautician (Wahanda is a good source) and have a professional come round to scrape all the crap off your feet or do everyone’s nails nicely. Cook something elaborate, buy in some posh face masks (Lush’s fresh ones are awesome and inexpensive) and mong out like you’re thirteen again. But with hard liquor.


These work on the same principle as the vintage night, i.e. do your drinking at home. I get a real kick out of going out in public in a ridiculous costume, so I think it’s a shame to keep it indoors. Getting ready is DEFINITELY the best part when you’re going out in fancy dress though; we went to The Last Tuesday Society‘s Animal Party a couple of years ago and had the best time before we even went out.

Fancy dress for the Animal Party!
Fancy dress for the Animal Party!

If you’ve got more time (read: you’re a student), you can get really creative with that body paint…

Cheshire cat


Christmas dinner is by far and away the highlight of Christmas. Throw everyone off by having it all year round.


Whatever you do, don’t let everyone’s obsession with social media get in the way of quality indoor time with your favourite people. I’m as bad as everyone else, so we normally leave out a phone bowl in the hallway to encourage everyone to be more sociable. (You might want to take photos though, so leave a digital camera or some disposables out for everyone to use, then distribute the pictures afterwards.)

Phone bowl

Curious London has a new Facebook page! It’s about sharing all the cool things I hear about that I don’t have time to write proper blogs for, so if you’re a London adventurer too and short on inspiration, you can follow the page here

Featured image from The Motivated Type.There’s even a poster, if you fancy it.

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.