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fun things to do with friends on a budget

You can still have fun and stay within your budget! These fun things to do with friends are budget-friendly, cheap, and still a blast!

Everyone loves traveling and going to concerts – but so many fun activities seem like they cost so much that you need to save up for months to do them.

Thankfully, there are still a ton of nearly-free things that you can do together. Check out all 17 ideas on this list and pick out the most fun ones for your friend group.

Nearly-Free Fun Things To Do With Friends

Everything comes with a basic cost, but the ideas on this list can be as inexpensive as you make them. Even better? All of them will create memories that you will cherish for a lifetime!

#1 Frisbee Golf

This first idea is super cheap because all you need is a frisbee – and you can get those for less than $15 at most stores. Look up your local parks and see if they have a frisbee golf course. If not, you can create your own with a few more supplies. This tutorial shows you how, and all you need is a round laundry basket and a tomato cage.

Even if you have never played disc golf in your entire life, learning how to play it is half the fun! You’ll enjoy laughing together as you try to see who can make it into the baskets in the fewest tries. It’s harder than it looks!

#2 Picnic

Picnics are always a popular idea with friends. In fact, you can even make them a weekly or monthly date that you try to do regularly. To save even more money, do it pot-luck style. Ask each person to bring a dish for everyone to share. You can even do themed meals by choosing a certain cuisine for everyone to bring. 

There are so many ways to make this a really fun and memorable activity. Pick one spot that is “your spot” that you return to each time. Or, explore a new park or area of town each time.

Bonus: this one is great for parents with kids too! You can sit and sip while your kiddos run around and tire themselves out! 

friends having a picnic

#3 Bake Cookies

Baking is another almost cheap thing that you can do together. The best part is that when you are done, you have some delicious cookies you can eat!

The most fun type of cookies to make together is probably sugar cookies because you can decorate them at the end too.

There are literally hundreds of cookie recipes out there! Just like picnics, you can even set up a regular cookie baking night together too! Make a different type of cookie together each time. To save even more money, ask each person to bring one of the ingredients, or rotate turns hosting.

#4 Hiking

Another fun thing to do with friends is to explore local hiking trails. If you live near a national park, pile everyone into one car and split the entry fee.

The easiest way to find hiking trails is to use AllTrails. All you do is type in the city or park name and it brings you trails listed by how difficult they are. It also tells you how long the trail is, reviews from other hikers, and a map along with directions! This is a very user-friendly site so definitely use it before you go hiking.

#5 Create A Scavenger Hunt

Get together and create a scavenger hunt for each other. This is more fun when one or two people create the scavenger hunt for everyone else, so take turns being the “hunt creator.”

All you really need is some paper and pens for this activity. Then, you can do the hunt around one park or take it all the way across town. The difficulty and length of time are entirely up to you.

To stay within your budget, just make the prize something that doesn’t cost a lot of money. It could be something as simple as a fake trophy that you pass around the group each time someone finishes the hunt or as fun as “winner gets free lunch from the group.”

#6 Explore A Nearby Town

Become tourists in your own state. Get in the car and just start driving – you can’t really get lost when you have a GPS on your phone!

If you are more comfortable planning it out, decide to explore towns that are nearby that you haven’t been to before. Use your phone to research the history of the town and try their most popular coffee shops out.

Take your time and stop along the way to take pictures and have the freedom to make changes last minute and check out other towns that you see.

#7 Learn To Cook Together

Ask everyone to bring one of the ingredients and plan to try and learn a new dinner recipe together – including a fun side dish! Try something that you find on Pinterest or challenge each other to be an Iron Chef and create your own recipes from scratch!

The best thing about this idea is that you will be able to enjoy the food you cook at the end. You can even choose from this list of 37 freezer meals and meal prep together!

friends cooking

#8 Start A Book Club

How many people in your friend group enjoy reading? Start a book club! Decide together what you are going to read and set aside time to discuss what you read that week. You can even do these meetings virtually thanks to the magic of Zoom and Google Meet.

The best part is that you can usually find paperback books for pretty cheap, especially used.

#9 Do A Virtual Painting Class

This is probably the most expensive idea on the list, but it is definitely worth the investment! Paint nights are always so much fun! Lots of places nearby have paint nights where you show up and they have everything you need – the canvas, the paints, and the brushes. You just follow along with the teacher.

There are also lots of virtual paint parties that you can do too! In fact, the most popular one is Paint and Sip Live and they ship all the supplies you need to your door. You and your friends can have a painting party at your house!

#10 Movie Night

Having a movie night is always a classic choice! Did you know you can host a watch party and do a virtual movie night? Yup! No one has to get dressed and everyone can stay in their PJs on their own couches.

Netflix Party is a Chrome Extension that lets you chat while you watch the same Netflix movie together.  If you have Amazon Prime, you can set up an Amazon Watch Party. To use it, everyone in your friend group must have Amazon Prime.

If chatting while you are watching a show or movie is distracting, you can do it the “old fashioned way” and just text each other in a group chat while it’s on. This way, you can ignore it or chat whenever you want.

#11 Tie-Dye Shirts

All you need to do this activity is a white t-shirt, some dye, and rubber bands! It’s a pretty low-cost activity and there are a bunch of creative designs you can make with tie-dying. In fact, if you want to try out some different tying techniques, check out By Stephanie Lynn.

You don’t have to tie-dye shirts. Have fun dying all sorts of things! Dye some headscarves, skirts, pajama sets, and even tote bags.

#12 Take A Ghost Tour

Which one of your friends spooks the easiest? This is definitely one of my favorite fun things to do with friends! Ghost tours are usually really low-priced and a really fun way to get to know the history of your hometown.

Do your research ahead of time and check out places that are really popular for ghost-hunters! Even if you don’t believe in hauntings, it’s a fun way to hear some spooky stories together.

#13 Host A Spa Day

Another one of the most fun things to do with friends is to host your own spa day! Tell everyone to bring something different for the spa day. This can include face masks, foot scrubs, and lotions.

Set the scene and enjoy a day of self-care. Turn on some zen background music, light some candles, and dim the lights. This is going to be relaxing and rejuvenating for everyone.

spa day

#14 Concerts In The Park

When the weather is nice enough, check out live music at a local park. Look up local concerts – there might even be some open mic nights at coffee shops or smaller venues.

This is a fun and cheap way to discover new music.

#15 Volunteer Together

Lots of organizations are short-staffed and always welcome the help. Decide as a group where you want to volunteer and do it together. This could even become a regular thing that you do as a group.

If you don’t have time to volunteer every week or month, then do some good by going shopping for a local food bank or asking if any organizations need any one-time help.

#16 Video Game Tournament

Which of your friends owns the most video games? Go to their house and set up a video game tournament! Do something funny for the winner – maybe the winner gets free lunch from the losers?

Mario Kart is one of the best fun things to do with friends in a large group. Or, you can play smaller games in a tournament- style. Either way, there are a lot of laughs and jabs to be had. 

#17 Karaoke

Finally, if you really want a good laugh, start singing! There are a ton of Karaoke YouTube videos out there, so you don’t need a Karaoke machine or to go in front of a ton of strangers. Host a sing-a-long night at your house.

If your friend group isn’t into singing, play some free “Name That Tune” games on Youtube instead.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have fun with your friends! Decide together what you want to do and then try a few new things! Some of them are outside and some are inside – try them all!

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