When I was younger, I imagined that adult friendships would be all about stopping by glamorous gallery openings and spending weekends in rented summer homes and staying up until 3 a.m., talking about how we are each other’s soulmates. Turns out, I was just watching way too much Sex and the City.
In actuality, the activity I do most with my friends is grab dinner. And while I love our meals together, I sometimes worry that by sticking with dinner, we’re missing an opportunity to create bigger memories. Someone once told me that when we’re younger, friendship is about experiencing life together. As we get older, however, we tend to go through the majority of our lives with our partners or at work, and then report the updates to our friends.
Therefore, I’ve been brainstorming different ways to enjoy my friends’ company, without sharing an entree. Here are 14 activities to do with your peeps:
1. Throw a “Favorite Things” Party: Invite a bunch of buddies to bring their “favorite thing” (such as a book or kitchen tool) for a white-elephant-style gift exchange.
2. Host a Movie Night: My friends recently got together to watch All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. We ordered pizza and baked cookies, and I felt like a kid at a sleepover (except as a kid, I never watched any documentaries about America’s opioid crisis, but you know what? Maybe I should have).
3. Be a Tourist in Your Own City: It’s fun to explore where you live (you moved there for a reason, after all!), and many cities have awesome free walking tours. If you’re in New York, I highly recommend checking out Free Tours By Foot’s Harlem Walking Tour.
4. Make Your Own Food Tour: Pick a new neighborhood and look up the best restaurants to try — or just wander into places that catch your eye. My friends and I did this in Flushing, Queens, and it was so great. Be prepared to unzip your jeans for the subway ride home.
5. Turn Out the Lights for a Slideshow: Everyone comes prepared to present on the topic of their choice. At one I went to, someone presented on another attendee’s prom outfit from 10 years prior, which led to some top-notch roasting.
6. Plan a Progressive Dinner: Everyone hosts one course of the meal in their respective homes, which is so much easier than one person having to provide appetizers, a main course, sides and dessert all by themselves.
7. Start a Podcast Club: Have you listened to Normal Gossip? My friends and I are obsessed and text each other every Wednesday to discuss the newest episode. And if you live in the same place, keep an eye out for your favorite podcasts’ live shows. (Also, Normal Gossip is touring this summer, and my mention of this has officially made this the most sponsored-sounding-unsponsored-suggestion of the list.)
8. Attend a Storytelling Event: The Moth puts on incredible storytelling shows all around the country; and local bookstores often host authors when they have a new book (in New York, I always keep an eye out for what’s happening at The Bell House, Caveat, Greenlight Bookstore, POWERHOUSE Arena, and Books Are Magic).
9. Make Up a Competition: One December, my friends and I held a gingerbread house contest. Chaos ensued, including an attempted coup because one of the other teams was using materials that weren’t included in the gingerbread kits! How messed up is that?!! Despite the drama, we still joke about it to this day.
10. Find a Bridge and Walk Across It: Skip dinner overlooking a skyline and explore the actual skyline as you cross a bridge with a friend. I’ve had some of my best conversations in this setting. Any bridge will do!
11. Listen to Music Outside: Check out your local parks or music venues to see what’s on their calendars this summer (Lincoln Center and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! often have good events).
12. Join an Amateur Sports League: Many sports don’t require varsity-level athleticism (like Pétanque and Shuffleboard).
13. Plan a Getaway Together: It’s exciting to just go someplace new, even if it’s just a short train ride or town away. Spend the weekend at a motel or Airbnb, or go camping. I don’t camp (I’m the person screaming about mosquitoes), but I have lots of friends who do, and they seem to come come back closer than ever.
What about you? How have you and your friends gotten creative with your time together?
Emily Kling is a writer based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Points in Case, The Belladonna Comedy, and other humor publications. While Emily is often late, she is rarely fashionable. You can find more of her writing by visiting her website or by following her on Instagram.
P.S. 14 more things to do with friends (other than dinner), and do you hug and kiss your friends?
(Photo from Somebody Somewhere.)