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74 Things to Do with Friends (WITHOUT Spending Money)

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.

adult friends doing karaoke on iPad at home, text overlay "things to do with friends with no money"

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 sleepovers (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 good when doing a no-spend challenge).

Tired of your friends always wanting to spend money when you guys get together – a spending habit you'd like to break? Read through this list of ideas…then send it their way.

Here we go!

Article Content

What Can I Do with Friends Without Spending Money? Hangout Ideas (At Home)

What can I do with friends without spending money?

Turns out, an awful lot.

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 things to do with friends at home without spending money. And trust me when I say these activities will make your time together ANYTHING but boring.

Psst: a lot of these would also dub as staycation ideas when you're planning a staycation.

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 difference in someone’s life.

Also, here are kindness challenges for adults.

2. Do a Free Self-Defense Class Together (Online)

three women in workout clothes doing self-defense class at home

Gather your gals or pals (or gal pals) together at your house for a free online self-defense class.

You can even get a certification at the end, depending on which you choose!

Some choices:

3. Play Pudding Pictionary

finger drawing in pudding on pink fluorescent paper

This is one of my favorite things to do for free with friends!

It's 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 (instant, homemade, doesn't matter − use whatever ingredients you have on hand). Then, as each person chooses a card, they have to draw using the pudding! Use whatever paper you’ve got on hand.

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 it 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 are 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!

Psst: here are 20 other cheap summer activities for adults. Unless you want to do a midnight polar bear swim….brrrrr.

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:

10. 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).

11. Decorate Cookies

two women sitting around decorating cookies in bright colors

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”)!

How to make this free: 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!

Psst: find a few more seasonal free or very cheap ideas in this article on October activities for adults, and this article on November activities for adults.

12. Go through Friend Photos Together

What to do when hanging out with friends at home?

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?

13. Set Up Karaoke

group of four at home, laughing while doing karaoke on an iPad

Get out the kid’s karaoke machine, or set it up with YouTube.

Psst: in a relationship? Here are 14 things for couples to do together besides watch TV.

14. 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 to 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:

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.

15. Film Festival Potluck

three potluck dishes with woman holding plate behind them

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 a movie around it (like a particular genre would work well – horror, family, religious, drama, comedy, etc.).

16. 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.

17. Host a Dinner Toast Party

wooden cutting board with six different colorful avocado toasts on top

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).


18. 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.

19. 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.

20. Set Up an Outdoor Movie

Does one of you own a projector and everything else you need to run an outdoor movie? Great!

group of friends hanging out together, text overlay "74 things to do with friends without spending money"

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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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 can go the highest, and which stays in the air the longest.

24. Do a Color ‘N Chill Adult Coloring Book Session

woman coloring mandala adult coloring page on table with coffee

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.

There are tons of free printable Mandala coloring pages.

25. 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.

26. Get into a Crime Documentary

The best thing about starting a crime documentary with your friends? You can each continue watching it afterward and text each other as you go along.

I have a few you might want to try:

Bonus: pop up some gourmet popcorn for the event. Heck, you might even want to break out your old Clue board game

27. 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:

28. 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.

Psst: trying to hang out with your mother? Check out my 19 mother-daughter activities ideas.

29. 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!).

30. 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.

Topic Examples:

  • 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

31. 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.

32. 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.

two shelves full of gourmet chocolate bars in a store

Some of the ones I chose when I did this with my husband:

  1. Divine Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: This one ended up being our favorite!
  2. Green & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate: This one was wayyyyy too bitter for both of us.
  3. 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).
  4. Endangered Rain Forest Dark Chocolate (72%) with Forest Mint: Yummy.
  5. Divine White Chocolate Bar: Paul really liked this one, I thought it was okay.
  6. Endangered Tiger Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72%) with Espresso Beans: This was our second favorite!

33. Do Each Other's Colors or Figure Out What Your Seasons Are

Did you know that each person's complexion, eye colors, and overall tones lend themselves to certain color palettes over others?

author headshot in middle of fall color spectrum

The reason why you want to figure out which season you are is because you can then pick out clothing and accessories that complement your skin tones.

You can use one of the two following great, free resources, to figure out what types of colors complement your skin tone and features the best.

  • Colorwise.me: Using this tool, you can input a photo of yourself and then answer a few questions to see what your color palette is.
  • Corina’s Free Quiz: Using Corina’s free quiz plus a handheld mirror, you can figure out what your colors are. Even better you can do it with friends to help!

I actually used both and got the same thing each time (love that confirmation!).

34. 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.

Free Things to Do with Friends – Where Can I Go Without Money?

Ever wondered how to go out without spending money?

This section is all about showing you the many places to hang out with friends you can go to for fun experiences, without spending any money.

Yes, there ARE places to hang out without spending money!

Using the options below, meet up with a friend, or a group, or just go solo – the choice is yours.

The cool thing is, you HAVE choices!

What to do with no money, with your friends:

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 group wants to buy 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, 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'oeuvres 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

Here are some free printables (and here are some more) to put together a round of The Amazing Race for your friends to complete.

9. Do a Free Yoga Class

woman in brightly lit room doing yoga pose on mat

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 to 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.

It's one of my favorite things to do that doesn't cost money with friends!

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 backpacks.

For example, in Houston, there’s a 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 afterward 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 are the Holocaust Museum and the Contemporary Arts Museum which 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.

Psst: does your “friend” happen to be a girlfriend or boyfriend? Here are my favorite 17 park date ideas. Cheap, and FUN! 

1. Meet for a Potluck Picnic

Everyone brings a dish 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 opportunities 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 meditate anywhere. Why not do it with a circle of friends, in the great outdoors?

The next time you're wondering, “What to do when hanging out with friends at home”, remember this:

It's all about spending time with friends. It is NOT all about spending money with friends. 

I don't know about you, but I'm now super-pumped to try all these things to do with your friends without money. There's just so much stuff to do with no money, I'm not quite sure where to start!

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Dwayne Miller

Thursday 2nd of June 2022

All the mentioned ideas above are all great! Great way to avoid spending too much money just to spend time with friends.


Sunday 19th of September 2021

This was verry unhelpful and didn’t need some of these points plus still haven’t found something to do from this


Thursday 9th of September 2021

These are all great ideas, they would totally work for me if my boyfriend would like to be in public. Any ideas I could do that don’t involve going to someone’s house or being around a bunch of people?


Saturday 10th of July 2021

Why do you have a pool if you are broke?

Amanda L Grossman

Monday 12th of July 2021

That's an easy one - some people become broke AFTER buying their home. It's called being "House Poor".


Sunday 22nd of September 2019

These are really great ideas! I have to admit that I am still struggling with reducing our going-out-with-friends budget. This post kinda gave me a nudge. Thanks. I'd better start with the free museum days. :)

Amanda L Grossman

Saturday 9th of November 2019

I'm so glad to help get you started on things to do with friends without spending money! It can be hard to cut back, but once you start looking for free ways to spend time with friends, it becomes way easier to see the opportunities.