To keep our friendships alive and vibrant it’s a pretty good idea to actually spend time with one another. But through the busyness of our hectic lives, our go-to suggestions for get-togethers are rather boring and predictable:
Lunch? Happy Hour? Coffee?
Let’s get a little creative here and think of some activities that can be a lot more fun and engaging. If you think about it, there’s plenty of upside of going the unpredictable route.
How about these potential benefits...
Shakes you out of your socialization routine
Stimulates your brain with an unfamiliar activity
Creates anticipation for doing something new or a little challenging
Broadens your perspective about interesting things in the world
Creates the potential of widening your social circle when you invite others to join
This last point is probably the most important. Many of our days are driven by routine and we interact with the same group of people. There’s not much new to learn.
Alternatively, we may have a tendency to retreat when it comes to our social lives as it’s the first thing to sacrifice when life gets hectic. But the long term result of this laziness is boredom and potential loneliness.
By thinking a little outside the box, anyone can recharge their social life. It doesn’t have to be hard instead it could be fun and energizing. By creating new and fun opportunities for social engagement you will boost your own spirits while giving a bunch of others a new reason to step outside their comfort zone. Put in a little effort and the rewards will be exponential for you and for them.
Here are twenty ideas. Start here but keep brainstorming!
Host a Wine (Beer, Cheese, Chocolate) Tasting Party
There is culinary decadence all around the world. But if it’s not conveniently located right down the street, bring it in-house. Host a tasting party of food and/or drink from around the world. Pick a theme (e.g. style, country of origin) and have everyone contribute the stock. Create an evaluation form to keep track. And then after all the tastings are over, decide on group favorites.
Host Your Own Happy Hour
Okay, I know I kinda pooh-poohed happy hour but this is a bit of a twist. The objective here is to widen your social circle. Everyone who attends must bring a guest unknown to the rest of the group. Think colleagues, neighbors, cousins, your pilates instructor. Everyone will pay their own way but the incentive for the attendees is to meet new people with the comfort of knowing at least someone else there. Intros to strangers are much easier this way.
Start a Dinner Club
When I went to culinary school in Chicago a small group of students I was close with started a supper club. We would get together monthly for a potluck meal as a means to practice our newly acquired skills. We would all agree on a theme and decide what part of the meal each would prepare. Try doing the same with your friends. Don’t fret about anyone’s cooking abilities. Instead, focus on coming together for a made-with-heart communal meal. Have fun and get creative with your themes. How about foods that start with vowels or only foods that are red?
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Host a Heritage Potluck Dinner
For some, the idea of participating in a supper club seems like a big commitment. Instead, simplify it by making it a one-time thing. But let your theme be international. Everyone who attends must bring a dish or drink that represents their culture or heritage. Then when it’s time to eat, each participant should share information about their heritage and the chosen food or drink. This ends up being an easy, interesting, and fun way to dine around the world.
Plan a Progressive Dinner Out
Or for one more dining suggestion, take in the culinary delights of nearby restaurants. Plan a progressive dinner out by picking a new place for each course. This option really works best if you’re in an urban center or your town has a concentration of quality restaurants close together. Keep the progression manageable like sticking with only appetizers - main course - dessert. If you will be drinking be sure to use Uber/Lyft for transportation. The host should be a timekeeper and ensure the group doesn’t linger too long at any one place.
Start a Book Club
Get some intellectual stimulation while meeting up regularly with friends. Like the dinner club, collectively decide on topics, authors, literary styles. Or be creative and have everyone put their top three choices in a grab bag and pick randomly. A friend of mine who hosts a regular book club says she often doesn’t get to the end of the book but gets through enough to have a decent discussion about it. But she adds, the real benefit has been the close camaraderie she’s formed with the other book club members.
Throw a Themed Party
My sister-in-law is a brilliant closet party planner. Every few years she throws a themed party based on her creative kids’ requests. Ancient Egypt, A Night in Paris, The Roaring ‘20s, ‘70s Throwback. Attendees are expected to play the part (i.e. show up in costume). A consignment shop and Pinterest are good resources for clothing and decoration ideas. On-theme food is served and of course, there’s music. Who wouldn’t want to go to a party like this?!
Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
How much do you know about your city or town? What’s its history? Wherever you live there is something interesting about it. Go figure it out. Invite friends to take an organized tour like all the other eager tourists or create your own. Solicit the help of librarians or town historians who probably have town history at their fingertips. Decide on 3-5 interesting town facts or locations that could easily be covered in a walking tour or a quick drive. Be creative with a fascinating grand finale.
Organize a Scavenger Hunt
Get out and about and put your thinking cap on! Organize a scavenger hunt for your friends (and the people they invite). Decide on a theme or pick a cool location like a park or urban neighborhood. To make planning feel less daunting organize it with someone else so you can double your creativity. Have fun prizes at the end and go somewhere afterward to celebrate. Contrary to what you may think, planning a scavenger hunt is easier than it sounds. Here is a good scavenger hunt guide.
Host a Game Night
We don’t play enough games! But when we do play, once we get into them, isn’t it a bunch of fun? If you host a game night make sure you have plenty of room and variety. If the crowd’s big enough (because you’ve invited a bunch of people!) create game “stations”. Some may be low-key (Scrabble or chess) and some energetic (Scattergories or Pictionary). Encourage people to rotate. And be sure to have some game night nibbles and drinks.
Create a Bucket List Together
We all have dreams about what we could do in the future. A fun exercise is to create a bucket list with your friends. What I mean specifically is to create it in each other’s company. By doing so you’ll learn a lot about your friends’ goals and ambitions. I’m sure this could spur on some very interesting conversation. Plus by sharing ideas with others you’ll get ideas for yourself. And if you all identify a common dream among you perhaps you can plan on accomplishing it together.
Attend a High School Sports Game
At first glance, this may seem like an odd suggestion when you could instead attend a college-level or professional sporting event. But by instead opting to root for the high schoolers you’ll be prompted to walk down memory lane. Reminisce about your younger years either when you were in high school or when your kids were in high school. Think of the discussions such recollections could spur on! It’s also good to support our youth and it’s free ; )
Visit an Escape Room
There’s nothing more fun than being terrified. Wait. What? If this is your kind of thing, you can take part in one of the biggest current trends in entertainment. It’s a real-life escape game where teams must work together in a race against the clock to solve a series of increasingly challenging puzzles. With now over 2000 facilities around the country (in the US), if you go, be prepared to have your wits tested while you have some stressful fun (oxymoron?).
Host a Naked Lady Party
This, of course, is attended by women but I’m sure the men would like an invite 😜. Invite your female friends over for a clothing swap party. Have attendees bring their unwanted clothes to exchange with others. The more attendees the better because it creates the most variety. Have everyone try on a bunch of stuff and give each other style suggestions. With a little order and creativity, you can get yourself a whole new wardrobe. After everyone’s snagged their selections, the host should donate everything that remains.
Learn a New Skill - (Knitting, Dancing, Painting, Guitar - you name it.)
It seems after our formal education is over, we let structured learning fall by the wayside. That’s a real shame when there’s so much out there to learn. Plus learning keeps the brain healthy. Recruit friends to learn something new together that requires some dedication and practice. By doing this with your comrades, you’ll have a built-in support and accountability network. Plus investing in a new interest will likely widen your social circle as you find other students and mentors.
Some of us are outdoor enthusiasts and others are not. For those that are not, here is an opportunity to expand your horizons while you push on your comfort zone. Dive in and go camping or take some baby steps with an afternoon hike. If you want to learn about another world, head to a working farm or ranch. There you can learn how animals are raised and crops are harvested. Not too many people can claim bragging rights of having milked a cow.
Plant a Community Garden
There’s something very satisfying in growing your own food. From exerting your own effort with soiled hands, you begin to appreciate all that goes into the produce section at the grocery store. Find a community garden in your area and collectively plan and manage it. Or if one friend has some space and is willing to share, grow and harvest your bounty together. It would be both fun and rewarding to watch your labor of love grow.
Host a Holiday Gift Wrapping Party
Every year like clockwork the holidays approach and we feel the stress of gift-giving. After picking the perfect gifts (or so you hope) you then need to wrap them. Ugh! Instead of waiting until the last minute, gather your friends for a gift wrapping party. It will relieve some of the holiday stress by getting together with friends without any planning required. Plus you will be able to swap wrapping paper and supplies and get it all done at once. That’s both fun and efficient!
Take an Improv Class
This suggestion may sound scary but I bet it turns out to be a bunch of fun. I know people who have taken Improv classes to help them overcome shyness. In the process they learned practical skills like thinking quick on their feet and reading others’ body language. Now imagine taking such a class with friends! It may start with the apprehension of “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” but will probably end with howls of laughter.
Organize a Volunteer Outing
I think we all believe it’s a noble idea to volunteer our time. However, most of us never move beyond the thinking stage because of the planning logistics. Plus there’s the undesirable prospect of doing it alone. To remedy both of these obstacles, plan a volunteer day with an organization you and most of your friends support. Then spread the word and send out invites like it’s a party that can’t be missed. I suspect many would jump at the chance to give back especially when it’s done with familiar company.
Pick just one of these suggestions and start planning! Try to widen your social circle by inviting acquaintances and encouraging your friends to invite their friends and acquaintances. If all goes well, try another one!
What other creative ideas do you have for spending time with friends? Please share in the comments!