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4 Easy Ways to Spice Up Your Snacks for Girls’ Night In!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

If you’re anything like me, you love to hang out with friends.  And what’s even better than hanging out with your besties?  Having snacks while doing so! But sometimes the same old snack foods can get boring, but you don’t want to deal with complicated recipes or spend all day perfecting a Pinterest-worthy plate for each guest.  So, if you’re looking to spice up your hostessing skills on a college budget, here are some of my tried and true favorite tips using items you might already have in your kitchen!  

1. Popcorn Seasoning

Movie nights are classic, comfy, and easy to plan, especially when it comes to what snacks to serve.  Popcorn and movies go together like Wednesdays and wearing pink. (So, fetch!) However, if you want to add some fun to your bowl, try making your own popcorn seasonings!  Pre-made popcorn seasoning can get pricey, and many recipes can be made with ingredients you already have around the house.  

My personal favorite is inspired by a Disney cookbook that I used to have in my childhood.  The entry in the cookbook has different flavors and specific measurements, but I usually just measure with my heart.  The flavor I use the most often is Parmesan Ranch.  It’s super easy!  There are only two ingredients: Grated Parmesan and Ranch Seasoning.  Ranch seasoning is most commonly found in packets, but Hidden Valley even makes shaker bottles of it! Mix the parmesan and ranch seasoning to your taste, sprinkle the mixture atop your freshly popped popcorn, toss, and enjoy!

2. Homemade Dip

Chips and dip is another classic snack pairing perfect for any get-together.  But, if you want to impress your guests, make some homemade dip!  Sour cream and onion soup mix yield a flavorful dip with very little cost and effort.  Mix together a 16 oz container of sour cream with one packet of onion soup mix until well combined and let rest in the fridge for a few hours or up to overnight to let the onions rehydrate.  This recipe was originally brought to my attention by my family, but it turns out that it even makes an appearance on the back of the Lipton soup mix box.  Even so, many people that I have served this dip to have never heard of this trick, so try it out and spread the love!

3. Affordable Charcuterie Boards

One of my all-time favorite snacks is a charcuterie board.  They’re full of flavor and variety and they’re so fun to arrange, so whenever I get the chance to put one together I jump on it!  You might be thinking that this shouldn’t be a contender on a list of quick college-budget snack ideas, but you’d be surprised at how nice of a spread you can assemble while still staying within a lower price range.  However, keep in mind that for larger crowds, the board is going to get more expensive.  Nevertheless, my favorite hack for charcuterie boards is a quick trip to Aldi. Their deli section is amazing.  One package of prosciutto, which is usually off-limits for cheaper charcuterie boards due to its higher price tag, usually comes out to around three dollars at Aldi.  They also have a diverse and inexpensive array of cheeses that can sometimes be too pricey at other stores such as brie and asiago.  

When it comes to the carb of choice for your board, any kind of crackers are great, but my go-to hack is to buy a french baguette, cut it into slices, brush it with butter and garlic, and toast it in the oven myself.  Baguettes are usually just a dollar or two depending on where you buy them from, and they give a much nicer presentation than simple crackers if you’re aiming for fanciness. 

Finally, when it comes to the dips, dressings, fruit, vegetables, and relish items like pickles and olives, they are all really up to personal preference.  My personal rules of thumb are to stick to generic brands when possible and try to utilize items you already have in your fridge and pantry. For example, honey, deli mustard, and any jam or preserves I happen to have in my fridge are my dressings of choice. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box… I never would have considered clementines a proper charcuterie fruit but I once peeled and separated some clementines that I had on hand into little wedges and they ended up being a hit!

4. Simple Syrup Lemonade

With all of this snack food, there has to be something to wash it all down, right?  But with all of these impressive homemade snacks, we can’t possibly just serve any old soda!  Homemade simple syrup is the answer to making quick and easy drinks that are crowd-pleasing and impressive but don’t bust the budget.  All you need to make simple syrup is water, sugar, and your flavoring of choice.  You can use this syrup to flavor so many different drinks, but today, I’ll be suggesting my personal favorite: ginger lemonade.

For the syrup boil equal parts water and sugar in a pot, stirring until dissolved.  I usually start with one cup each, unless I know I will be making a lot of drinks.  Once the sugar is dissolved, add your flavoring ingredient.  In this case, I add a few shakes of ground ginger and stir. (Because we measure with our heart here.) Let the flavoring ingredient steep for a bit in the simmering syrup, and once the syrup has taken on the color and aroma of the flavoring, strain it into a glass jar to cool in the fridge.  

To make the ginger lemonade combine lemon juice, water and the ginger-infused syrup to your taste and stir!  It’s simple and delicious!

Food is one of my favorite ways to bring life to a get-together.  It inspires conversation and joy. And as we know, the way to many people’s hearts is through their stomachs. I hope these tips and tricks inspire you to branch out with your snacks for your next girls’ night in! (And if all else fails, just order a pizza!)

Sonny Crull

Illinois State '23

Hi! My name is Sonny Crull, I am a Senior at Illinois State, and I'm majoring in Interpersonal Communications with a minor in Music! As a writer, I aim to use my voice and platform through Her Campus to share fun, engaging, and relatable content.