Finding fun things to do with friends for free can definitely be a challenge. After all, you obviously want to socialize…but sticking to your budget is important too!
This is why having a bunch of ideas of activities to do either at home or outside where you don’t have to spend a cent can be perfect for helping you to save money without sacrificing your social life.
Fun things to do with friends outside
If you’re looking for outdoor activities with friends, a picnic is always a winner when the weather is good.
Whether you go to a local park, beach or a national park, having a chance to get outside with your friends for lunch or even an afternoon snack can be a great thing to do.
You can also make sure it’s free by agreeing to only bring food you already have in your pantry, kind of like an outdoor potluck.
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2. Join a paid focus group
There’s no reason why you can’t combine finding fun things to do with friends with making some money – and having all of you join a paid focus group is a great way to do that.
How it usually works is that you’ll be brought into a room and asked a series of questions as a group either about a product or, sometimes, a certain political issue. Your responses are then used to shape things like product launches or political campaigns.
A great way to find this is to sign up with Survey Junkie. They’ll let you know from time to time about available focus groups and you can be paid up to $150 per hour to do this, making it a great use of your time.
Simply sign up for Survey Junkie, go straight to your settings and click the button to get alerts. That’s it!
3. Find an outdoor concert
A lot of cities have free outdoor concerts during the warmer months, so you should definitely take advantage of this if you’re looking for fun things to do with friends in summer.
They may not be bands you’ve heard of or music you usually listen to, but that simply means that you could discover something you wouldn’t have encountered normally. Whether it’s a great new local band or perhaps a whole musical genre you haven’t really considered listening to, these outdoor concerts offer a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
4. Try a new sport
If you’re looking for free outdoor activities with friends that are also good for your health, you should keep an eye out for any local come and try days in your area. That is, local sports clubs often host free sessions where you can come and try a new sport.
You definitely don’t have to be any good at the sport to have fun, especially because everyone else will probably be just as terrible as you. But it’s a really fun way to spend a few hours, particularly if you’re looking for the chance to laugh at just how unskilled you and your friends are.
Or you never know – you may discover a new sporting talent that you didn’t realize you had!
5. Find free equipment on Craigslist
Some other fun things to do with friends outside can be found on sites like craigslist. With people off and giving away all sports equipment they haven’t used in a while, you can find some great bargains on there for your next afternoon to spend with your friends.
Whether it’s a dusty croquet set or a badminton pack with some holes in the net, you’re not looking for professional level equipment here. Instead, that old equipment someone else is giving away is a perfect chance for you to try a new activity completely free – and find some new, active things to do when bored.
6. Make and fly kites
It’s incredibly easy to make your own kite at home – and you probably already have everything you need to do so!
Just check out this video that shows you how to make a cot for a newspaper. You will need some sticks, but if you really do want this to be free you can always use the strata sticks you can find outside. You’ll also need some glue – if you don’t have any already, this Gorilla Glue definitely does the job at a great price.
And once you’ve made your kite, it’s time to take it outside with your friends. Finding a local park to fly a kite together absolutely isn’t something that’s just for kids as you’ll be amazed at how much fun it is.
7. Mystery shop
Another item on the list of fun things to do with friends where you can make money as well is to go on a mystery shopping expedition together.
That is, most companies offering these kinds of opportunities ask you to either go and order something from a particular shop or simply check that a product is being displayed correctly.
It can be really fun to bring a friend how long for this, as you’ll both feel super stealth as you secretly check out a store. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, you could always split whatever you earn from doing this!
8. Go fishing
Going fishing is a great thing to do with friends on the weekend, especially if you’re looking for a way to spend a few lazy hours together.
If you don’t already have fishing equipment, don’t bother going to buy it as it can be a bit expensive. Instead, ask around if anyone’s willing to lend it to you if they’re not using it themselves that day.
Most cities have local Facebook groups that allow you to borrow things for other people, so perhaps start by checking that out.
9. Go camping
Another fun thing to do with friends is to go camping, whether it’s in a local national park or even your backyard or somewhere further away, if you wanna combine it with a road trip.
Like fishing, if you don’t have your own camping equipment, ask if you can borrow someone else’s to save money. A lot of people have tents and sleeping bags that they may not be using at the time of your planned camping trip, so this can be a good way to save money compared to buying your own.
(Just make sure you bring it back clean and dry – no one likes pulling out a wet, moldy tent weeks later!)
10. Find hiking trails
If you live near a forest or other outdoor areas, finding new hiking trails can be one of the best things to do with friends on the weekend. Not only does it give you the chance to explore new areas near you, but it’s always good to get outside and have some fresh air.
Check with your local tourist authority if you’re not sure or try downloading a free app that shows hiking trails in your area. Komoot is a good one, but just make sure that it covers the area near you.
11. Bike somewhere near you
If you’d rather travel on two wheels than two feet, finding a new bike path in your area can also be one of the healthier outdoor activities with friends you could consider.
Going on long bike rides is a great way to explore your region, especially if you combine this with checking out a local town or some other landmark. If the connections near you are good enough, you could always ride a bit further and then get a train back home, allowing you to explore even further afield.
12. Do a free tour of your city
Most cities offer free tours but it’s often something you don’t consider when you actually live there as you tend to assume that you’ve seen everything.
But that isn’t always the case and you also never know when that building you will pass every day could have, say, real historical significance.
You’re often expected to pay a tip at the end of the tour so it may not be 100% free in the end. But in terms of value for money, given you’ll get to spend a few hours learning new things about where you live, it definitely fits the bill.
13. Museums/art galleries
A lot of museums and galleries have free entry days from time to time, whether it’s the first Monday of every month or, say, on Sunday afternoons after a certain time.
Either way, these can be really fun things to do with friends if you’ve been keen to check these out but I’m so excited about the admission fees. A quick Google search of “what can I do today near me” usually brings up any nearby museums with free admission days, so mark these in your calendar and get your friends ready for some culture.
Volunteering is not only a fun thing to do with friends, it’s also incredibly worthwhile. And a lot of charitable organizations near you will be happy for the help, especially if you’re able to bring a group of friends meeting you’re able to have all hands on deck.
Always check ahead with the organization to see if they’re willing to accept volunteers, as some of them will have certain requirements before you’re able to help.
But if there’s a particular cause that you or your friends are committed to, this can be a great way to help advance that.
15. Go giveaway hunting
We mentioned above how Craigslist can be a great source of free sports equipment, but you can also expand your giveaway hunt to all sorts of other free things.
That is, by checking out things like Facebook marketplace or websites for your local newspaper, you just may find people giving away their trash which is your treasure.
And this can be a particularly fun thing to do with friends on days when your neighborhood has their assigned “roadside dumping day“. This has different names depending on where you are, but it’s where people leave furniture and other items by the roadside for the local council to collect – or other people in the area to collect first.
You’ll find some amazing things on these days, especially if you look around some of the more up market areas near you. This means that if you know that one of these days is approaching, get a group of friends together to start scavenging.
16. Scavenger hunt
Preparing a scavenger hunt for your friends can be a super fun way to get everyone moving outside, especially if you’re looking for fun things to do without eating. Even as the host, it’s hilarious seeing how people manage to do each task. dumb stuff to do with friends
You can have people collect items, but you can also combine this with some dumb stuff to do with friends. For example, you could ask them to take a photo with three men with beards, a local statue or of them doing a handstand in the busiest part of town.
It’s one of the easiest outdoor activities with friends to set up but there’s no doubt that it’s also incredibly fun.
17. University seminars/other speaking events
If you have any universities or similar in your local area, they often have free speaking events that you can attend even if you’re not a student.
This can be one of the more interesting activities on this list given it’s a great way to learn about something you, even if you find the issue a bit controversial or don’t necessarily agree with the person. Instead, hearing a new point of view can be really enlightening – or, at the very least, gives you and your friend something to talk about afterwards.
Keep an eye on the social media pages of any colleges near you, as I usually publicize events like this on there, especially if the speaker is pretty well-known.
18. Free class
You should keep an eye out for any free classes that businesses in your area may be offering, often as part of their new opening.
That is, places like hardware stores sometimes offer free DIY classes or restaurants will offer free cooking classes as part of a way to get their name out there.
You definitely don’t have to buy anything to join the sessions and they can be a really fun way to learn some new skills.
19. Window shop
If you think that you and your friends can resist the temptation of spending money, window shopping is always a fun thing to do with friends for free.
When it comes to which stores to go to with friends to do this, I’d recommend aiming really high end. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend any money (as you presumably can’t afford it) and you can also play the “what if“ game with your friends, dreaming of the day when you can buy out the store.
This can also be a really fun thing to do at any local markets if you’re looking for things to do with friends on the weekend. Wandering around and seeing what people are selling is always really interesting. It’s perhaps a good idea though to leave your wallet at home.
20. Run a race
While a lot of running races do you have an entry fee, there are also free ones that you could do with your friends.
For example, Parkrun offers free, weekly, timed events all over the world. This means you could make it a regular appointment with your friends to get some exercise, hang out and, ideally, improve your run time.
You can also often join virtual races, where you’re competing against people all over the world. Doing these with your friends can be great motivation, not to mention that it also lets you race each other in person.
21. Language exchange
Language exchanges happen when you meet with someone who speaks a different language and you each take turns speaking your respective language to help the other person practice it.
These can also be really fun things to do with your friends if you’ve all been looking to learn a certain language. That is, you could meet with people who speak your second language while helping them to improve at your native language.
Not only is it great for socializing, but improving your language abilities is always a plus.
22. Visit a local microbrewery
Depending on where you are, local microbreweries often have free tasting sessions where you can try their newest brew. This helps the microbrewery get their name out there while also giving you and your friends the chance to try a new local drink together.
Just keep in mind that, depending on your state’s liquor laws, you may be charged a really low fee to do this to make sure it’s not entirely free. In those cases, you may be charged something like a quarter.
While that may not be strictly free, I think we can all agree that it’s close enough!
23. Christmas lights walking tour
Given how expensive the holidays can be, it’s always good to have new ideas to add to your Christmas saving plan. And one example of this is finding free fun things to do with friends around the Christmas season.
In particular, going on a Christmas lights walking tour around your neighborhood is always a great, budget-friendly way to get in the Christmas spirit. A lot of cities publish the best areas to see for Christmas lights, so keep an eye out for these in early December to start planning your route.
What to do with your friends at home
24. Spa day
When it comes to fun things to do with friends inside, a spa day is always a great idea. It helps if one of you he’s already good at doing something, like hair or nails, but it can also be a great opportunity to try out something new you’ve seen on YouTube or Pinterest.
You can also make it into a bit of a challenge to create something you based on the accessories you already have. Finding new looks for makeup that’s been gathering dust in a drawer or creating facemasks from what you have in your kitchen pantry is always a fun, free activity.
YouTube and Pinterest are also gold mines for new craft ideas. Whether you want to do this close to a holiday, like making Christmas decorations with your friends, or just a random craft day together will you pick something you’ve been wanting to try for a while, they’re all sorts of fun things to do with friends for free based on which ever crafting accessories you already have.
You could also take this opportunity to learn something new. For example, following some YouTube videos for how to knit can be a great way for you all to improve your skills – Olaf at how little skill you’ll actually have in this.
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26. Organize each others’ stuff
This may not sound particularly fun at first, but getting a group of friends together and helping each other to sort out your basement or garage can be really satisfying.
It can also be pretty exhausting, so it’s probably best to do each person‘s house on separate weekends. But not only will you be amazed at what you find at your own place, you may dig up some hidden gems at your friends’ house too.
27. Yard sale
And all that stuff you just discovered in your (or your friend’s) basement? Why not use that to make some money with a yard sale!
This can actually really be a fun thing to do with friends, especially if any of you want to embrace your not-so-hidden salesperson. It’s also a great way to get rid of some junk you no longer want and make a bit of extra cash in the process. This means not only is it free, but you could actually make money from it!
28. Makeover or reuse old clothes
Another thing you can do with old clothes or other pieces of material you have lying around is to do them up so they can be reused.
For example, check out this tutorial on how to turn old shirts into a bag:
You can also keep using it as a shirt (or skirt or pants or whatever you have) by jazzing it up as a group activity. For instance, tie-dye has become really popular again lately and it’s a very easy activity to do with your friends, with the added bonus that you’ll get a whole new outfit out of it.
29. Book club
If any of you are keen readers, why not start a book club as a fun thing to do with friends?
You can use books you already own to keep this free (although don’t forget these ways to get free books mailed to your home). Alternatively, why not check out your local library to find the subject of your next book club meeting?
Libraries are actually a great source of free stuff to do, and you’re absolutely not just limited to books there. In fact, check out this list of just how much stuff your free library membership can get you.
When it comes to what to do with your friends at home, anything revolving around food is usually a good idea. This is why having friends around and doing some baking can be a really fun, free thing to do.
You could work together to produce that masterpiece cake you saw on Pinterest. But as another idea, you could turn this into a baking competition.
Friends of mine have a gingerbread house contest around Christmas, which includes baking the gingerbread. I’ve also seen people have a focaccia baking contest, where they judge each other on the quality of the design on top of the focaccia bread.
Whichever you choose to do, having your own Great British Bake Off at home is definitely a good way to pass the time.
31. Exercise class
A healthier option on the list of things to do when you invite friends over just to hold a group exercise class. It helps if one of you was a bit of a pro in this, so they can leave the others and give pointers when needed.
However, you can absolutely do this if all of you aren’t quite at that level. There are plenty of online exercise classes that are free these days if you’re trying to live cheap, whether you’re looking for something more cardio-based to get your heart pumping or a yoga class to stretch out the week’s stress.
Either way, have everyone bring their own mat, set up your class of choice on your laptop or TV and you’ll be good to go.
32. Clothes swap party
A clothes swap party is not only a great way to clean out your wardrobe for free, but you never know which absolute gem she’ll be able to get from your friends.
Having done these myself at various times, it’s always a great afternoon – and, honestly, the clothes really just become the icing on the cake.
Of course, you can also include things like accessories and shoes in this. But it’s a really fun, sustainable way to let you and your friends revamp your wardrobe.
33. Murder mystery
If you haven’t done a murder mystery night with your friends yet, what are you waiting for?
The basic premise is that there’s an overall story and everyone in attendance is a character. One of them has killed someone and it’s up to the group to figure out who did it.
It’s amazing fun, even if you’re the host and already know which one of your friends is guilty. You’re also welcome to create your own story, although there are plenty you can also find online for free if you’d rather take advantage of someone else’s creativity.
Fun things to do with friends online
34. Games tournament
Plenty of gaming websites offer different fun things to do with friends online by letting you play together through your computer.
This could include computer-based board games or more complicated strategy games, with the best one for you depending on what you and your friends are interested in.
So take a look around the Internet to see what’s on offer to arrange your next online game night.
35. Online pub quiz
You don’t have to go out to have a great trivia night, with plenty of websites now I’ll give you the chance to host your own online pub quiz.
Of course, you’ll have to trust your friends not to google in the background. But as long as that’s OK, this can offer a really fun way to test your friends’ knowledge in all sorts of areas.
You can also have different friends hosting different rounds, giving you all the chance to participate in the answer sections.
36. Watch TV shows or movies together
Several new apps have come out in recent years that let you watch TV shows or movies with friends who are in the same room with you.
For example, Netflix Party lets you synchronize ourselves as each of you watch the show you’ve chosen, making it just like you and your friends are watching the movie together. This can be a great way to have a movie night if you don’t all live close to each other – and it even means you don’t have to share the popcorn with one another.
37. Start a YouTube channel or a podcast
Have you and your friends been talking about that YouTube channel you’ve been wanting to launch all that podcast your show will be a success?
If so, why not get together and finally launch your idea. In terms of fun things to do with friends online, getting to share your idea with your friends and a wider audience is definitely a great thing to do.
You don’t even have to be in the same room to do it, with plenty of podcasts recorded by people in front of their own computers and split screen YouTube videos being just as popular as where the hosts are in the same room.
38. Take a course
Websites like Coursera and edX offer some truly interesting online courses these days, often from extremely well-known universities.
They’re also about basically any subject you can think of, offering a great chance for you and your friends to get together online and learn something new.
It could be about a subject you’re interested in or something you know nothing about. Either way, not only will you be able to expand your knowledge in this area, but it should definitely make for some interesting discussions with your friends after each lesson.
Fun things to do with friends at night
39. Movie marathon
When it comes to fun things to do on weekends, having a movie marathon definitely right up there.
This may be something you haven’t done with your friend since you were having sleepovers as a teenager, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be fun now you’re all adults!
Whether you like to reminisce with some movies from when you were younger, some classics or some new releases, getting your friends together in the living room for some solid TV time is always a great idea.
40. Potluck dinner
A potluck dinner is a great way to get your friends together without one person being settled with all the cooking responsibility. It can also be completely free if you all agree to only use ingredients you already have in your fridge to make some seriously frugal meals.
Of course, this doesn’t only have to be a fun thing to do with friends at night, as you could always have a potluck brunch, for example. But as a way to save money compared to if you went out together to a restaurant, a potluck meal together is one of the best.
41. Board games night
Board games nights are an incredibly fun answer to the question of what to do when you invite friends over, especially when the weather isn’t great and you don’t really wanna go outside.
You and your friends probably already have a collection of board games that you could pool together for your evening, but don’t forget about that early idea of relying on some of the free things at your local library.
This often includes board games, so could be perfect if you’re looking for a new game to pass the time.
42. At-home cocktail tasting
There’s no question that going out for even just a couple of drinks can quickly add up, which is why an at-home cocktail tasting session can really help you drastically cut expenses.
Like the potluck idea, if you and your friends already have various ingredients at home, why not add the challenge for each of you to come up with a new cocktail based on what you already have? This helps you get really creative – and could also give you the chance for your friends group to invent your new favorite drink.
43. Trivia night
Having a trivia night at home is always a fun thing to do on a weeknight with friends, although keep in mind that a lot of local places also host trivia nights for free if you’d like to get out of the house.
To be fair, the expectation here is that you’ll buy at least one drink so don’t live stingy to avoid helping a local business.
But if you’re trying to work out how to live on a tight budget at the moment, hosting this at home is always a really fun option. You can find literally thousands of sample questions online too, so you definitely won’t have to think of these yourself.
44. Paint and wine night
Paint and wine nights are getting more and more popular these days, but the admission fees are often pretty steep.
So as a budget alternative, why not host one of these at home? You can combine it with one of the other ideas, like inventing your own cocktails to avoid you all having to spend money, but simply bringing some wine you already have at home is perfectly fine too.
If you’re anything like my friends, don’t expect the artwork produced after these to be particularly amazing. But when it comes to fun things to do with friends, this definitely ticks that box.
45. Open mic night
Open mic nights in your local area can be a really fun thing to do with friends if you’d like to discover some up-and-coming comedians. It’s true that some of them will be better than others, but you will occasionally stumble across a future star.
While it’s free to attend these, like a pub quiz, you are expected to buy at least one drink to help the place that’s hosting the event. That said, this is a pretty low fee to pay for a great night out.
46. Progressive dinner or pub crawl (around each other’s houses)
While things like potluck dinners and at-home cocktail tastings are great, you could add an extra spin on this by having a progressive dinner or pub crawl between each of your friends’ houses.
In the case of the meal, this involves going from place to place trying different dishes. And, well, we all know how pub crawls work. Safe to say, these are really fun activities for a group of friends.
This is a really fun way to spend an evening, especially when it’s not too cold outside so you won’t be tempted to just stay in one place.
47. Star gazing
If you’re looking for what to do with friends when tired so you don’t want anything that involves too much moving around, stargazing could be the thing for you.
Obviously, this is weather dependent. But assuming you’ve got a clear night, download a free stargazing app and see what you can all find. Whether you’re on the lookout for constellations, planets or even just shooting stars, this is an incredibly beautiful, relaxing and interesting way to spend an evening.
Final thoughts on fun things to do with friends
One of the main problems people report having when they’re trying to increase their savings rate is that they’re often tempted to spend more just to let themselves have a social life.
But there’s no reason why you can’t do both – in fact, it’s actually better for your budget. That is, if you find yourself able to still have fun while saving money, you’re much more likely to stick to your spending limits over time.
So whether you’re looking to share a meal or some exercise with your friends or perhaps even learn something new, there are definitely options out there that won’t break the bank.
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About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been featured on Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a six-figure investment portfolio. Find out more.