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Friendship

35 Affordable and Fun Things to Do With Friends 

That all-inclusive resort trip doesn’t count as “affordable,” but we promise this list is just as fun.

The cruel irony of being a twenty-something is that you have all the energy in the world to go out and have fun, but your funds  don’t support that life. As nice as it would be to jet off to Barcelona with the girls every long weekend, we get it – it’s not in the budget. Still, the alternative doesn’t have to be a self-imposed quarantine. That’s why we compiled a long list of fun things to do with friends that don’t jeopardize your ability to retire on time.

So text the group chat because hot girl summer is rapidly approaching, and life is way too short to be spent cooped up watching Bridgerton on repeat. Okay, okay, you can finish that episode first.

Things to Do With Friends - spending time outdoors

Fun Things to Do With Friends Next Time You’re Bored

1. Go to the beach.

Always a crowd-favorite free (or cheap) activity, hit the beach. Enjoy a day in the sun and maybe even indulge in an ice cream. We promise it won’t break the bank.

2. Create a DIY spa experience.

No nail tech required. Just grab some nail polish, a few face masks, your favorite lo-fi playlist, a relaxing candle, and zen out. You deserve some self-care.

3. Explore a new neighborhood.

We’re willing to bet there’s some part of your city that you haven’t made it to yet, even if you’ve lived there for years. Grab your bestie and check it out.

4. Have a coffee walk.

Grab a to-go coffee (or better yet – make one yourself) and take to the streets. Walking is better in pairs, and you gotta stay hydrated. And caffeinated.

5. Go out to brunch (with a bottom).

Bottomless brunch is fun (duh), but if you forgo the alcohol, your brunch bill will be way cheaper. Breakfast is one of the cheapest meals to indulge in, so treat yourself – just not too much.

Things to Do With Friends - brunch

6. Host a potluck.

You know the drill…everyone brings something, which means no one spends too much money and you all get to eat. We’re actually not sure why we don’t do this every day.

7. Attend a trivia night.

Check out the trivia scene near you and attend a session. You can show off everything you learned in History 101, plus you might win a free drink or two.

8. Watch a scary movie.

Remember sleepovers when we were kids? We would stay up late watching scary movies, and then wouldn’t be able to fall asleep  because we were terrified. Recreate that vibe by popping some corn and getting real jumpy.

9. Take an exercise class.

Bonus: if it’s a new studio you haven’t been to before, you can usually get your first class for free! Get your sweat on, keep your body in shape, and enjoy time with your friends. It’s a win-win-win.

10. Go thrifting.

Shopping: it’s a classic girls day activity. But doing it at the mall can quickly become pricey. Instead, hit up some local thrift stores or consignment shops. You’ll be able to afford brands you can’t at retail, and you won’t have to feel guilty about filling a bag, either.

Things to Do With Friends - thrifting

11. Play video games.

If your bestie is also battling an Animal Crossing addiction, invite them over for a marathon. There’s nothing more fun than virtual island-hopping with friends.

12. Belt it out at karaoke night.

Get your pop star on. We all enjoyed many drunken nights at karaoke bars back in college. Reignite that spark at the local karaoke joint. We apologize in advance to all the neighbors.

13. Have a board game night.

Video games aren’t your thing? Have a game night the old fashioned way. Bust out Monopoly or Settlers of Catan and create some enemies. Ahem, frenemies.

14. Visit the theater.

Check out your local or community theater and go see whatever play or musical is showing. Tickets are usually affordable at small theaters, and it’s a fun, different type of way to spend your evening. Hamilton who?

15. Have a picnic.

Throw some snacks in a basket and bring a blanket to the local park for a picnic on a nice day. Sure, you might get harassed by a bee or two, but the view will make it worth it.

Things to Do With Friends - have a picnic

16. Go to an adult arcade.

There are tons of adult arcades around nowadays. You can enjoy a beer while you channel your inner twelve-year-old at the skeeball machine. Plus, you’ll walk away with a new plushie.

17. Start a book club.

There’s nothing worse than reading a great book and having no one to talk about the twist ending with. Start up a book club with your group chat, and you’ll never have to deal with that again! Just don’t be the one who doesn’t read the book.

18. Catch the sunrise or sunset.

Bring some cheese and crackers and blast some music. It’s kinda romantic, sure. Ever heard of Galentine’s Day?

19. See a comedy show.

A lot of comedy clubs have discount tickets during the week, and if you aren’t picky about which comedian you’re going to see, you could end up discovering someone hilarious for a steal.

20. Bake something.

Try your hand at that epic cottagecore focaccia bread all over IG, or make like a baker on Great British Bake-Off and see how easy it really is to work with white chocolate in the heat of the summer. If nothing else, you’ll develop some empathy.

Things to Do With Friends - baking

21. Tie-dye your old clothes.

Up-cycle your clothes the colorful way. Buy a tie-dye kit at your local Michael’s and go ham. Don’t forget the plastic tarp. Your roommate won’t be so nice this time.

22. Find a new hiking trail.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, check out some local trails near you. Ideally, bring a map, too. Or at least a friend who isn’t directionally challenged.

23. Check out the museum.

Lots of museums have free or discounted passes at certain times during the month – check out your local museum’s schedule and take advantage of this.

24. Attend restaurant week.

Many cities have an annual event called “restaurant week” where you pay a low fee, and then have the opportunity to restaurant hop and get great deals, all while trying the hot spots. Look into when that’s happening in your neighborhood and make a day of it.

25. Make fancy cocktails.

Buying all of the ingredients for a fancy cocktail you don’t even know if you like yet discourages a lot of us from trying our hand at being a bartender. Go splitsies with some friends and it becomes much more affordable. We’ll take another spicy margarita, please.

Things to Do With Friends - making fun cocktails

26. Challenge each other to finish the new Wordle.

Anyone else get competitive about how many guesses it takes you to get the daily Wordle? Play with friends to make it even more fun. No hints!

27. Take a weekend trip.

This is typically a bit of a pricier option, but there are ways to make it affordable. Choose somewhere within a few hours drive so you don’t need to factor in airfare. Go for an affordable Airbnb, and limit your activities to a few highlights.

28. Make a charcuterie board.

Everyone loves charcuterie, but most of us don’t love the price tag associated with a platter of artisanal meats and cheeses. Have everyone bring one or two things, and suddenly your board just got way cheaper. And just as tasty.

29. Go to the local farmer’s market.

Don’t you just love fresh food? Take your Sunday up a few notches by filling your refrigerator with fruits and veggies grown by local farmers.

30. Visit the library.

Pick out your next Book Club read together by browsing the shelves of your local library.

Things to Do With Friends - visit the library

31. Go bowling.

Playing a couple rounds of bowling is a nice way to kill time without killing your budget. Yeah, okay, we can keep the bumpers up if you insist.

32. Have a photo shoot.

Even if you’re not an influencer, it’s normal to want cute pics to post on the ‘gram. Make a whole day of it. Get all dolled up, do each other’s hair and makeup, help your friends pick out their most fire outfits, and go find the most Instagrammable spots in your city.

33. Host a craft night.

Bust out the paints, watercolors, and craft paper. Oh, and don’t forget the glitter. Who cares if your creation looks like a kindergartner drew it?

34. Blast your favorite music and dance.

You know what’s even better than going to a crowded bar to dance on sticky floors surrounded by strangers? Dancing in the comfort of your own living room to music you actually like listening to. And the drinks are free, too!

35. Go for a drive.

Destination: anywhere and nowhere. Something about getting on the road is cathartic, and it can lead to some pretty deep conversations, too.

By Laura Davis

Laura was born at the beach in New Jersey, but she'd be the first to tell you her childhood was nothing like Jersey Shore. Sadly. When she's not writing, you can find her reading on her beloved Kindle, listening to true crime podcasts, or looking up adoptable cats.

Outside of her 9-5 as a writer, Laura is the owner of Looks by Laura, an online thrifted clothing boutique. She's the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website about navigating that challenging space between adolescence and adulthood. And she makes a mean eggplant parm.

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