40 Free or Cheap Things to Do With Friends for Fun

Some social activities, such as eating out or bar hopping, can get expensive fast. But you don’t need to spend much money to have fun with your friends.

Here are 40 free or cheap things to do with your friends for fun.

1. Fly kites

Kite flying is a great way to make the most of breezy sunny days. If you don’t already own kites, you can make some. Check out this kite-making tutorial that shows you how to build a kite from cheap, basic materials you probably have at home.

If you enjoy sunny days, you might like this list of things to do with friends in the summer.

2. Join a citizen science project

Citizen science projects encourage members of the public to contribute to science by collecting data. Search online for projects that appeal to you. For example, you can join the Celebrate Urban Birds (CUBS) project by observing local birds in your area and reporting your findings on the CUBS website.

3. Go foraging

Foraging for wild, edible food can be a lot of fun. Read Wild Edible’s guide to foraging before you head out. Always err on the side of caution; if you’re not sure what you’re picking, leave it alone.

4. Go window shopping

Even if you aren’t going to spend any money, going to your favorite stores and looking at things you’d like to buy can still be an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.

5. Make greeting cards

If you have some old craft supplies lying around and a special occasion coming up, try making your own greeting cards. To get started, look at Craftsy’s list of easy card-making ideas.

6. Research your family trees

If you and your friends have an interest in history, why not try some amateur genealogy? To get started, check out the National Genealogical Society’s list of free resources.

7. Look for an opening event

Store, restaurants, and gallery openings are sometimes free. Look online to find any that are happening in your area. You may be able to pick some extras, like discount vouchers at a store opening or some drinks and canapes at a restaurant opening.

8. Watch nostalgic TV

Most of us have TV series we remember from our childhoods or teen years. If you and your friends are in a nostalgic mood, watch some old favorites.

9. Start a side hustle

You don’t need to spend much money to start a side hustle. If you and your friends want to make some extra income, try some of these ideas:

  • Petsitting or dogwalking
  • Childminding
  • Online tutoring
  • List and sell some of your unwanted items online
  • Hold a yard sale

After you’ve made some cash, you can get some inspiration from this list of fun things to do with friends and spend it together.

10. Set a thrift store challenge

Thrift store challenges are a low-cost way to have fun and support charitable causes at the same time. You could set a budget (e.g., $5) and challenge each other to buy the weirdest shirt, the oldest book, or the most unattractive ornament.

11. Improve each other’s dating profiles

If you and your friends are on dating apps, review each other’s profiles. It can be hard to describe yourself accurately and take a flattering photo. Your friends could help you to get it right.

12. Write (or tell) a story

If you and your friends are feeling creative, try some storytelling. Sit in a circle. One person gives an opening line. Going from left to right around the circle, each person adds a line of their own. This is a good Halloween activity; try telling ghost stories around a campfire or by torchlight.

13. Go tree climbing

Find some tall trees in your local park or nature reserve and try climbing them. If there aren’t any trees nearby, wait until the children have gone home and play on the climbing equipment instead.

14. Make gourmet popcorn

Making popcorn is a cheap, fun, and easy way to get creative in the kitchen. All you need is a bag of popping kernels and whatever seasonings you have in your cupboards.

15. Make podcasts or videos

If you and your friends have an interest or passion that you’d like to share with the world, create a podcast or video about it. Even if you don’t get many views or followers, it’s fun to make something together.

16. Watch a TED Talk

Browse the TED YouTube channel for short, thought-provoking talks. Pick a video, watch it together, and discuss it afterward.

17. Visit the library

Public libraries aren’t just a place to read or browse books; they sometimes hold free talks, author readings, community events, and classes. Drop in and see what’s going on.

18. Feed the ducks

Visit your local park or nature reserve and feed the ducks. Don’t give them bread, because it’s bad for their health. Birdseed, oats, and fresh corn are better options.

19. Make balloon models

All you need is a good tutorial and a pack of cheap modeling balloons. You might discover a new talent! Check out these beginner’s tutorials for inspiration.

20. Have a joke contest

Joke contests are a quick way to cheer each other up for free. The rules are simple: take turns telling each other jokes. When someone laughs, they are out of the contest. You can make up your own jokes or find some online.

21. Draw comics

Do you and your friends have an idea for a comic series? Put your imagination to work and learn how to put your ideas on paper by following some free online tutorials.

22. Help each other reorganize your homes

Reorganizing and decorating your home can be a fun and creative activity to do with a friend. Decluttering can help reduce your stress, and smart organization can help you save time.

23. Do some upcycling

Do you have some unwanted furniture, clothing, or accessories that you’ve been meaning to throw away? Try upcycling them instead. Look at this list of upcycling ideas for inspiration.

24. Go for a bike ride

If you and your friends have bikes, or if you’re in a place where you can rent them cheaply for a couple of hours, go for a ride somewhere new. Take some drinks and snacks with you and have a picnic.

25. Make a vision board

If you and your friends are in the mood to set yourselves some goals, make some inspiring vision boards. You could use an app like Pinterest or Miro, or make a more traditional collage by printing or cutting out photos and sticking them to cards or paper.

26. Spend quality time with a pet

Spending time with pets is fun and relaxing. With a friend’s help, you could groom your cat, teach your dog a new trick, or rearrange your fish’s aquarium.

27. Try to solve a mystery

There are lots of unsolved mysteries out there. Challenge yourselves to come up with intriguing explanations. The Unresolved Mysteries subreddit is a good place to start.

28. Try each other’s hobbies

If you and your friends have different hobbies, do a hobby swap. For example, if your friend loves video games and you’ve never understood their appeal, ask to play a couple of their favorite titles.

29. Dye your hair in wild colors

Dye your hair for a special occasion or just for fun. You can buy cheap, colorful hair dyes or chalks online that wash out quickly, so don’t worry too much about the results.

30. Enter some free contests

There are lots of free competitions and sweepstakes you can enter online. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully, and only enter contests that are run by reputable companies and websites.

31. Track down long-lost friends

Have you and your friends lost touch with people you used to know? If you miss your mutual friends, try to track them down online and send them a message. They might be delighted to hear from you.

32. Make an obstacle course

Put together an obstacle course from whatever you have lying around the house or yard, and see who can reach the finish line first.

33. Go out for dessert

If you want to go out for lunch or dinner but don’t want to spend much money, just get dessert instead of a full meal.

34. Hold a swap

Most of us have clothes, accessories, books, or other items that we no longer want or need. Invite your friends over for a swap. It’s a chance to clear out your closets and pick up something new for free.

35. Go to a Meetup

Look on meetup.com for nearby groups. Most meetups are free, and they’re a great opportunity to try a new skill or discover a new interest. Pick something you wouldn’t usually try. Even if you never go back, you and your friends will have made some new memories.

36. Take a free online class

Learning can be more fun with friends. Go online and explore something new. Udemy, Stanford Online, and Coursera all offer free tutorials and classes covering a wide range of subjects, including aromatherapy, coding, psychology, and languages.

37. Get to know each other on a deeper level

If you’ve been friends for a long time, you might assume that you know everything about each other. But if you ask some insightful questions, you could learn something new about your friends, and vice versa. Try working your way through our list of hard and tricky questions to ask your friends or our list of questions to ask your best friend.

38. Decorate your homes for the holidays

If there’s a big holiday coming up, get your homes ready for the occasion. Put on some festive music and have fun hanging or making decorations.

39. Sing karaoke

Find some karaoke videos on YouTube and sing along to your favorite songs. As long as you’re enjoying yourselves, it doesn’t matter whether you hit the right notes.

40. Bake bread

Baking bread is a cheap and satisfying activity. You don’t have to stick with simple loaves; why not try bagels, pita bread, or low-carb cloud bread? If you are a beginner, try one of these easy recipes from Allrecipes.

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages SocialSelf’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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