Ready for some things to do with friends without spending money? I’ve got you covered with 74 boredom-busting ideas. Wallet, not needed.
I like a good challenge, to be honest. And if it’s got money involved – like coming up with 74 different ways you can spend time with friends without spending money – then I dig in my heels and get to work.
Spending time with friends on a non-existent budget is actually right up my alley.
You see, when I was younger – think a tweenager – my friends and I routinely spent the night at each other’s homes. We always had tons of ideas for things to do with friends without spending money.
Our sleep overs (what we lovingly called “thunderplunks”) were never dull. And did we have any money (or, really, any more than like $15)? Nope.
Now that I’m a bit older, I kind of want to create that same experience of camaraderie, without the extra bills (especially if you're doing a no-spend challenge). So, here we go!
What Can I Do with Friends Without Spending Money?
Turns out, you can do a lot with friends without spending money. Both at home, and out in the world. Which is exciting – because let’s face it, our paychecks don’t always stretch enough to cover those happy hour tabs.
I’ll start off the list with lots of ways to spend time at home, together, without spending money. And trust me when I say these activities will make your time together ANYTHING but boring.
#1: Complete a Service Project Together
Fewer things can make people feel bonded together than completing service projects together. Lucky for you, there are tons of volunteer from home opportunities that are completely free and will make a different in someone’s life.
#2: Play Pudding Pictionary
This is a seriously fun, and seriously simple, game to play (did I mention…it tastes great, too?). Print out a deck of Pictionary cards (these are free), and whip up a batch of pudding. Then, as each person chooses a card, they have to draw using the pudding! Use whatever paper you’ve got on hand.
#3: Play a Round of Play Doh Pictionary
Ever played a round of Play Doh Pictionary? My husband and I tried this once for a date night, and I was literally snort-laughing! Use the same cards as above, and give it a go.
#4: Host a Star Gazing Night
Fewer things are awe-inspiring than something epic happening in the night sky. Meteor showers, planet sightings, eclipses, etc. are fantastic themes for a get together. They also give you all a reason to stay up late!
Bonus: I know you’ve probably seen those date night ideas floating around on Pinterest where you inflate your kiddie pool, fill it with pillows and blankets, and use that while stargazing? Well, you can do the same with your friends.
#5: Create a Bucket List for Your Lives
How often do we have time to actually sit down and create a bucket list? Your friends will appreciate you downloading and printing out free copies of a bucket list (this one is quite stylish), and giving them the time and space to sit down and daydream about their lives. You can also download these free bucket list ideas for various categories to pass around as inspiration.
Bonus: Find the movie The Bucket List and watch them to get everyone in the right mindset.
#6: Do a Challenge Together
Open up your laptop/computer, and take an online challenge together. Two that come to mind:
- Minute to Win It Games: Here’s 200 ideas for “kids” (psssh – why should the kids have all the fun?), and many of them can be done with materials you have in your home. Make it even more fun by adding an element of competition. Break the challenges up into rounds and keep score.
- Toothpick Building Challenge: My husband and I did this, but with jelly beans, and it was pretty interesting! Boy does he like to build.
#7: Take an Online Workout Class Together
Periodically, my friends and I have whipped out our yoga mats and done an Adriene Yoga workout session together – wow have those been fun!
What other kinds of free online workout classes can you find?
- Belly dancing (tons of belly dance tutorials on YouTube)
- Hip Hop Dance classes
- Guided meditations
- Chakra healing soundwaves
- (really, the sky is the limit on YouTube!)
#8: Go for a Midnight Swim
Shake things up by a) having your friends spend the night, and b) having everyone go for a midnight swim in your pool!
#9: Play a Round of Truth or Dare
Yes…Truth or Dare still exists for adult friends, too! Here’s a few free printables for you:
- Truth or Dare Online Generator (so you play the game online)
- 100 Truth or Dare questions for tweens (can work for adults, too!)
- Keep things surprising for EVERYONE by asking your friends to each write down 5 truth questions and 5 dares. Then, collect them at the door in two jars.
#9: Do a Pantry Iron Chef Challenge
Here are some free Iron Chef Date Night Printables – and to keep this free, add in the twist that your secret ingredient (and all ingredients) have to come from someone’s pantry (in fact, it could be fun that you ask each person to bring one “secret” ingredient from their pantry to the get together).
#10: Decorate Cookies
Decorating cookies doesn’t have to be just a Christmas activity – I enjoy a random cookie decorating gathering in the middle of July, too (heck, you could call your GNO “Christmas in July”)! Ask each person to bring their own brand of sprinkles/cookie decorating supplies lurking in the depths of their cupboards. You probably already have ingredients on-hand to cook a batch of sugar cookies. Boom!
#11: Go through Friend Photos Together
Crowdsource your old friend photos by having each of your buddies bring over their pile of photos that include your main group of friends. Hours of fun, right there!
Bonus: You guys could work on scanning these in and creating a photobook – who says you have to buy it that day?
#12: Set Up Karaoke
Get out the kid’s karaoke machine, or set it up with YouTube.
#13: Hold a Freezer Batch Cooking Party
What makes work feel like play? When you get a group of your best pals in the same room and do it all together. Then you get to talk, learn things from each other, crank up the music, and do whatever else you crazy kids do when you’re with each other.
And since you’ll each walk away with anywhere from 5-20 meals you can stuff in your freezers? Well, you’re not really spending any money that you wouldn’t on food, anyway. It’s a win-win!
Here’s a few freezer meal party resource posts:
- Freezer Meal Party 101
- Freezer Meal Party – 50 Meals for $300 (that’s $6/meal!)
- How to Throw a Freezer Meal Party
Pssst: I actually use Erin’s awesome service, MyFreezEasy (yes, I’m an affiliate, because I love it!). Each month she releases a bunch of new recipes for batch freezer cooking, plus a video that you can cook along with. You might want to give her free sample menu a try with your gal pal friends.
#14: Film Festival Potluck
Ask each of your guests to bring over a potluck dish, plus their favorite movie. Or, pick a theme, and ask each person to bring movie around it (like a particular genre would work well – horror, family, religious, drama, comedy, etc.).
#15: Read the Same Book Together and Meet Up for Discussion
AKA, start a book club with your friends! But hold it at each other’s homes. Also, if you guys pick the books out well ahead of time, then you can use your library’s interlibrary loan (ILL) system to get your hands on any book, for free.
#16: Host a Dinner Toast Party
Have you picked up on the toast-meal movement? It kind of all started with Avocado toast (YUM), and now has morphed into lots of variations for food + bread that = dinner.
Let’s take this a step further by hosting a potluck, but creating the theme of toast. So, each person needs to bring a topping (really, a meal) that you can put on top of toasted bread. You supply the toaster/toaster oven/oven, plus some really great bread (don’t forget things like butter, olive oil, and garlic).
#17: White Elephant Party in July
Hey, there’s Christmas in July…why not throw your friends for a loop and host a White Elephant party in July (or August, or September…whatever works for you)? Except the catch is, they can’t buy anything for it. They have to pick something out from the recesses of their closets/garage/attic/etc., wrap it up, and head on over to YOUR house where the games will begin.
#18: Host a Genealogy Research Night
Most people are interested (to some degree) in learning about their ancestors. Just look at how wildly popular ancestry DNA services have become!
I’ve got an entire article about totally free genealogy websites that you can share with your friends. Ask them to bring their laptops, print out a family tree page for each of them to give as they arrive, and have fun digging around and catching up. Here are some free Family Date Night History Printables that you can use for this, as well.
Bonus: you can ask each person to write down 4 weird, funny, or otherwise unique facts about their ancestors. Mix them up, and take turns reading one aloud and guessing who it belongs to.
#19: Set Up an Outdoor Movie
Does one of you own a projector and everything else you need to run an outdoor movie? Great! See if you can set up an outdoor movie get-together. It can be for after dinner, so that everyone can take care of their kids before heading out (plus, you’ll need the dark). Bring blankets, pillows, chairs, and anything else that might be helpful to make the evening memorable.
#20: Host a Pool Tournament
Does someone have a pool table? Create a tournament bracket to track everything, and take turns playing one another until there’s just one winner.
#21: Go through The Book of Questions
My friend got me The Book of Questions about 8 years ago or so, and my life hasn’t been the same! I love to whip it out on long road trips, at the dinner table, with random people, etc. Best news is? You can get your own through your local library. Makes for a fun, and free, gathering with friends.
#22: Have a DIY-Kite Competition
We live just two blocks from a park. Ask your friends to either bring their own kites to see who can get the highest-flying one, or to make their own kite and then see how they fare.
Even better? Get them together an hour ahead of time, make garbage bag kites from scratch, and then compete to see who’s can go the highest, and whose stays in the air the longest.
#23: Do a Color ‘N Chill Adult Coloring Book Session
Many of us now have adult coloring books – thanks to the trend – but how many of us actually sit down to color? Gather your friends and all their mandala-rific coloring books + coloring supplies for a Color ‘N Chill.
#24: Crossword Puzzle Showdown
In the great movie, Dan in Real Life, each Thanksgiving the entire family gets together under one roof. Their first activity together? Is to get into two teams and race to see which team finishes that week’s crossword puzzle the quickest.
#25: Get into a Crime Documentary
The best thing about starting a crime documentary with your friends? You can each continue watching it afterwards and text each other as you go along.
I have a few you might want to try:
#26: Kick-Off a New Workout Challenge
Pick out a workout challenge for you and your friends to participate in, print out what you need, and then host a kick-off event at your home where you go through the routine together.
Here are a few to give you an idea:
- Natalie Jill’s 7-Day Workout Challenge
- Women’s Health Magazine 30 Day Workout Challenge
- 30 Day Ab Challenge
- 30 Day Cardio HIIT Challenge
#27: Have a Cookbook Swap
I love looking at new cookbooks! And I’ve certainly got 3-5 cookbooks I’m finished with, and can swap out for a “new-to-me” one. Host a cookbook swap so that everyone leaves with a new bundle of recipes they get to try at home.
#28: Have a Kiddie Pool Party
Are you in a group of friends who all have young kids (or a Mom group)? Have each of them bring over their plastic kiddie pool, fill them up in your backyard, and have each baby/kid hang out in their own pool (or each other’s – doesn’t really matter!).
#29: Hold a Skill Swap
Sounds like a snooze-fest…but it’s not, I promise. Ask each of your friends to come over to your home and be prepared to teach one thing to everyone else. This is a great strategy to learn things hands-on from each other.
- How to set up your profile on LinkedIN
- How to set up a charity walking app on your phone
- How to use Interlibrary Loan (ILL) at your library
- How to make artisan bread
#30: Escape Room at Home
I just love these free escape room printables! You’ll find audio files for the missions by downloading the free iPhone app or free android app, and you’ll need to get some materials together before your actual date night (like scissors, pens, single-sided printed copies of the free missions, etc.). Solve puzzles, decipher morse codes, and deactivate bombs – all while working together.
#31: Hold a Chocolate Tasting
For less than $5, you can set up a chocolate tasting at your home!
Print out The Dating Divas’ FREE Chocolate Tasting Date Night Setup, and ask each person to come with a unique bar of chocolate.
Some of the ones I chose when I did this with my husband:
- Divine Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: This one ended up being our favorite!
- Green & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate: This one was wayyyyy too bitter for both of us.
- Theo Chocolate Organic Chili Dark Bar: We both enjoyed the bit of heat; however, it tasted of cumin to us (even though that’s not on the ingredient list).
- Endangered Rain Forest Dark Chocolate (72%) with Forest Mint: Yummy.
- Divine White Chocolate Bar: Paul really liked this one, I thought it was okay.
- Endangered Tiger Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72%) with Espresso Beans: This was our second favorite!
Where Can I Go Without Money – How Can I Have Fun for Free?
This section is all about showing you the many places you can go and the fun experiences you can have outside of the home, without spending any money. Meet up with a friend, a group, or just go solo – the choice is yours.
The cool thing is, you HAVE choices!
#1: Meet Up at a Store Demonstration
I’ve met up with a girlfriend (or several friends) at some really great store demonstrations that were super fun. Like the time we all got free mini-facials from a beauty shop, or watched a cooking demonstration at Williams-Sonoma (with a taste at the end!), or a session of adult coloring (wow did I find that therapeutic – my son was an infant at the time).
Great places to look for free events include:
If someone else in your groups wants to buys something – that’s fine! You can still go to stores, do something, and not actually buy anything.
#2: Forage for Local Goodies
There are lots of things you can forage for, likely right around your home, that you may not know about. For example, on the farm where I grew up, we could walk about 1.5 miles away and fill our buckets with raspberries.
Grab a local foraging book from your library, or check out this U.S. Forage Map online, to see what you could find, and set up a foraging hike with a group of friends. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get exercise, get outdoors, and hang out.
#3: Use Someone’s Guest Pass to the Gym
Does one of you have a gym membership with a guest pass? It would be pretty awesome to hang out in the hot tub or sauna together.
#4: Hit Up a Free Library Class
In Houston, our library system has all kinds of cool classes to be involved in. Think Genealogy research, using your library’s Story Booth to become part of their oral history archive, and arts & crafts (for adults) and lots of other options.
#5: Go Out on Free Museum Day
If you live in or near a city, then look up when the free museum days/times are. Plan your next GNO (Girl’s Night Out) for then – I’m sure your friends will appreciate the free admission, too!
#6: Meet Up at a Grand Opening Event
I’ve been to grand openings with free food (sometimes cheap hot dogs, other times delectable hors d'oeuvre I would’ve been happy to serve at our wedding; it all depends on the venue), free beer, and all kinds of other free goodies. Plus, getting to be at an event where something new is being introduced can be pretty fun!
#7: Meet Up at a Church Event
Our church offers a Parent’s Night Out periodically, and this would be a great time to meet up with friends without having to corral the kids. Other great church events could be local mission trips/volunteer opportunities, Christmas shopping with funds collected to help needy families, and church-sponsored outings.
#8: Set Up The Amazing Race
#9: Do a Free Yoga Class
While there are free yoga classes outside of your home, you can also score one by choosing a facility where they have a free pass for newcomers. These are typically one week, two weeks, or a certain number of classes. Let your friends know ahead of time that they can come take the class with you, and they can sign up for the free pass.
#10: Witness a Migration Together
There are lots of natural, seasonal, animal migrations around the U.S. that you can go witness. Grab your group of friends, find a good viewing spot that’s both free and a place you can walk/hike to, and remind them to bring a few snacks in their backpack.
For example, in Houston, there’s the bat emergency every evening at dusk. There’s a free viewing platform you can congregate around – I’ve gone three times now with various groups of people.
#11: Go on a Sunset Meetup
Have you ever just met up with someone at a great spot to witness the sun going down? A rock ledge, a beach, a pond…wherever you can find in a location near you all is good enough to make it an event.
#12: Go on a Jog
Pick a jogging route, and ask your friends to meet with you for a run. This is awesome for accountability, gives you all time to socialize, and everyone will be dying to shower afterwards so will want to go home instead of going out to spend money.
#13: Go Birdwatching
Birdwatching can be exhilarating! Not only that, but relaxing – just ask me, probably one of only a handful of college students who decided to get up at 5:00 am on Saturday mornings for a birding course. Grab a local bird book from your library, and lead your friends on a birdwatching morning.
#14: Hit Up Free Museums
There are some museums that are free all year long. Because of that, we tend to dismiss them. Why not make an afternoon out of visiting one or two of these gems with your buddies? For example, in Houston, there’s the Holocaust Museum and the Contemporary Arts Museum that are completely free.
#15: Take a Sea Shell Walk
Do you live near a beach, or rocky lake area? Bring a few buckets and ask your friends to meet up to talk, walk, and collect. You can even throw everything back in the end; the point is to get outdoors with your squad and catch-up.
#16: Window Shop a Bazaar
Do you have stores or flea markets with goodies from many different cultures in them? One of the things I love most when traveling and living abroad is simply window shopping. I learn so much about the culture doing this — no need to buy anything. Just invite your friends to meet up at the new market, bazaar, etc. and chat while you walk and peruse all the new things.
Things to Do at the Park with Friends
Our world is full of beautiful parks (and, some not-so-beautiful, but well-intentioned anyway). I want to show you lots of ways to take advantage of them so that park visits can become part of a day without spending money.
#1: Meet for a Potluck Picnic
Everyone brings a food that can be eaten with hands, and that doesn’t need to stay hot or warm. Bring a large platter, and build a park charcuterie out of it all!
Bonus tip: give yourself the challenge of only bringing an item you already have in your fridge, cupboards, etc.
#2: Attend a Theater in the Park Performance
Lots of big-city parks have free outdoor performances. For example, in Houston it’s called Theater under the Stars (TUTS), and we’ve laid down a blanket to watch Shakespeare and more.
#3: Do a Yoga Session
Check out any free outdoor yoga classes at your favorite parks. And if there isn’t one? Ask your friends to bring their mats, a towel, and some water, and put on a Yoga with Adriene video.
#4: Go on a Pokémon Walk
Hear me out on this one – because when I first heard of Pokémon Go, and then witnessed a few people in a park doing it, I thought it was just for kids. Then, one day at the grocery store (while fancy-free without my one-year old), I decided to give it a “go”.
That was a lot of fun in the produce department!
Have your friends each download the free Pokémon Go app (or just one of you), and go on a walk through the woods or your park. You’ll never know who is lurking around the corner…
#5: Take Trendy Exercise Routines Outdoors with Free Apps
Get your group of friends excited about taking an exercise routine outdoors. You can choose a trending one, like these free HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) apps with loads of free workouts on them.
#6: Work on a Conservation Project
Many parks depend on volunteers to keep things up and running. Working on a project together with friends will get you all outdoors, provide plenty of opportunity to catch up, and is a pretty healthy way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
#7: Maintain a Community Garden
Some communities have opened up spaces for people to be part of a community garden space. You can help tend a friend’s space, help with selling the goods at the local farm stand, or grow your own veggie patch – it’s a great, long-term project to be involved in with a friend.
#8: Go on an Owl Prowl
Have you ever heard of an Owl Prowl? It’s when you meet up in the wilderness in the dark (hmmmm…sounds like a good opener for a horror movie) and you search for owls. Generally, you have to pay for these, but you might be able to either set up your own, or volunteer in exchange for a free ticket in. Lovely excuse to enjoy the outdoors at night without camping out!
#9: Hold a Meditation
There are so many meditation apps and YouTube videos with brainwave vibes that you can mediate anywhere. Why not do it with a circle of friends, in the great outdoors?
I don't know about you, but I'm now super-pumped to try all these things to do with friends without spending money. There's just so much, I'm not quite sure where to start!
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