When did everything get so darned expensive? If it seems like the cost of living is rising at a rate that’s more than commensurate with our rise in pay… that’s because it is. Unfortunately, we live in the age of wage repression. This is where corporations deliberately undermine the wages of their workers in order to protect their profit margins. We toil away and think ourselves lucky that in a capricious economy at least we have a job and a stable income. This approach is great for our employers’ bottom line, but bad for the economy as a whole. As a result of the rising cost of, say, going to the movies, dining at a restaurant, enjoying a quiet drink in a nearby bar or attending the theater has become prohibitive to many working families. With less marginal propensity to consume (i.e. less disposable income to spend on the non-essentials that make life fun and magical), families have to get inventive about how to spend their free time. Thus, the night in has become a common staple for many hard working families.
But that’s not to say that a night in should be accepted as second best or conceded as a defeat. After all, you spend so much time, money and effort making sure that your home is beautiful, why wouldn’t you want to make the most of the time you spend in it? Here we’ll look at some must have investments as well as money saving hacks that will ensure that you and your family have nights in that are so legendary, your friends and neighbors will also want to get in on the act…
Building a sense of occasion
Just because you won’t be going out, doesn’t mean that your family night in isn’t worthy of a sense of occasion. It’s a good idea to start making plans in advance. Set up a facebook group for your family night in. This will help to develop a sense of anticipation but also of exclusivity. If the evening goes well, perhaps you could consider bringing other members of the extended family, friends or neighbors into the group. This is also a good opportunity to democratize the event so that everyone can look forward to it with enthusiasm. Debate and decide what movies you would like to watch together, what foods and drinks you would like to enjoy and decide any ground rules. For example, do you want to have a zero tolerance policy on phones and devices? There’s a fine balance here between creating a sense of occasion and over formalizing the event but if you manage to walk this line, your whole family will look forward to your nights in with eagerness and anticipation.
To 4K or not to 4K?
The average family in the US spends so much time watching TV that it’s almost a full time job. For decades, families have worried that the presence of television has ruined the art of conversation between families. But in an era of smartphones and tablet this issue is compounded. Thus, it stands to reason that we should increase the quality of TV time while decreasing the frequency. As part of a balanced diet of activities, TV time can be a fun way for families to relax and unwind and share an experience.
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a new TV for a while now, you will likely be wondering whether it’s worth the jump to the nascent 4K format. Well, the definitive answer is… It depends.
4K offers a visually discernible difference in quality from standard high definition or 1080p. The trouble is that this difference is not always visible from where you may be sitting. Depending on the size of your screen and how close you are to it the difference in quality may be as clear as night and day or it may be barely discernible. This guide is helpful in determining whether your setup is well suited to upgrading to 4K. It also depends on the format of the movie in question and how it has been mastered. If you stream your content through a device like Apple TV the good news is that when you buy a movie, it automatically upgrades to the highest available quality which will be 4K if your setup allows. Just be aware that 4K requires some pretty serious bandwidth to stream. Your existing setup may not be conducive to the 4K experience so it’s worth checking out https://www.optimum.com/ as they offer a range of integrated solutions for broadband internet packages combined with 4K digital streaming subscriptions. Most hardcore cinephiles prefer to buy 4K blu ray discs as these offer superior picture and sounds to their streamed counterparts (although they come with a heftier price tag). It’s also worth noting that some 4K discs may be shot at a resolution that is less than 4K or be scanned from a 2K intermediate. This website is useful in determining if a disk is actually in fact 4K.
For those who take their movies seriously, however, 4K is the only choice. It offers a greater level of detail and texture that can be visually astonishing and the High Dynamic Range allows for a wider gamut of colors than anything else we’ve ever seen in home video.
Light up the mood
Never underestimate the importance of lighting in getting the mood just right for recreating the theatrical experience. The right lighting can instill a sense of drama to the proceedings making it feel more like an event than just gathering around the TV as a family. Thus, you should consider retrofitting your TV with ambient backlighting or at least using a bluetooth connected ambient lamp.
Last but not least… Fake out your takeout
No family night in is complete without your favorite food to enjoy with your movie. But instead of spending a fortune on your favorite burger, pizza, or fried chicken joint, replicate the recipes from home using a range of simple ingredients for a taste that is virtually identical to those of your favorite franchises but a little healthier and at a fraction of the cost. Check out some recipes right here.
This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.