Whether you have a lot of close companions or you just see one friend all the time, the cost of your get-togethers can easily blow your weekly budget. Going shopping, getting manicures, and having fancy dinners (with prosecco, of course) all start to add up, which is why we went on a hunt for fun things to do with friends that don’t cost a ton of money. When you have a relationship with someone who’s awesome, you can rely on the fact that you'll always be in great company—so there’s no need to spend all your hard-earned cash just to keep each other occupied.
That said, we’re not telling you to just sit on the couch and talk for every friend date—although we’re on board with something that low-key once in a while. If you use a little imagination, you can find cool things to do near you (or even at one of your places) that are sure to be special and won’t kill your budget. From checking out a comedy show to window shopping, we’re here to give you inspiration for your next big friend date. Your friend (and their wallet) will thank you.
Read on for 17 fun things to do with friends that won't break the bank.
Analyze Your Monthly Horoscopes
Everyone is a naysayer until their horoscope actually ends up being right one time… and then they get hooked. Before the month begins, sit down with your friend and read your horoscopes aloud. Make note of both of your key days and any other predictions. You’ll both keep an eye out for each other, and then, at the end of the month, meet again and see what came true.
Go to a Comedy Club
If you’re not a huge drinker but still like a clubby scene—without the hefty bar tab—head to a comedy venue. Often, your entrance fee will actually just be a drink or food minimum, so it ends up not being pricey at all. That’s the case at the Comedy Cellar in New York City, which has a $25 “entrance” fee that you apply to both food and drink.
Hang Out in the Park
Bring a massive picnic blanket or beach towel and spread yourselves out. Whether you just sit and chat while enjoying the sunshine, you catch up on work or discuss the latest magazine or book you’re into, you’ll be sure to have fun. It's a great excuse to head to a place that you don't frequent as well when you're on the hunt for a venue for your get-together.
No matter which type of organization you choose to devote your time to, it’s always more fun when you have a pal with you. You’ll connect on a different level after giving back—grab a tea or have dinner together afterward, and talk about your experiences.
Have an at-Home Spa Day
Nothing beats a spa day, but your favorite type of facial at home will do just as well. Slather (or smooth) on your favorite DIY mask and jump around to your favorite old-school music while the products work their magic. If you want to get extra fancy, slice up some cucumbers and put them on your eyelids.
Break Out Some Games
We don’t care if you take out the Cards Against Humanity again or travel back in time for some Pick-Up Sticks or Jenga. The friends who play games together stay together. If you want, up the ante—whoever wins the first two out of three games has to treat the other to ice cream. You might even want to plan a rotating game night, where a different friend hosts the event every week so the burden—small as it might be—isn't always on you.
Have a TV or Movie Marathon
Invite your besties over for a TV or movie night from the confines of your own home instead of heading out to an expensive theater (with even more expensive popcorn!). If you’re stumped, go for Gilmore Girls or a lineup of all of the Freddie Prinze Jr. movies (oh, the good old days). Going out to the movie theater is fun, but you don’t get to hit pause, drink wine, or Postmate your favorite meal. Plus, if you or your friend already have a Netflix or Hulu subscription, you’ll pretty much hang for free.
Host a Clothing Swap
You know all those extra clothes and accessories you’re just kind of sick of? Act as co-hostesses and invite your best gals over for a clothing swap party (this is one of our favorite things to do with our friends). How you decide to assign “values” to the items is up to you, but we bet you’ll bring at least one cool new piece home with you. You'll be able to easily shed pieces of clothing you no longer wear and pick some more up for just the cost of a trade!
Make Dinner Together
Even if both of you are not totally comfortable in the kitchen, you’ll learn a lot—and have a ton of fun—trying out a new recipe. Decide what type of cuisine you feel like, and go all-out. After all, it will cost you about a quarter of the price that going to dinner would have. You might even start an Instagram cooking show in the process.
Visit an Orchard
It’s that time of year again. Venturing out to an orchard to pick your favorite fruit is the highlight of the year, and it’s even better when you’re with a good friend. Make a whole day of it—drive to the venue, pick fruit, and stay for a while. Afterward, don’t forget to stop at the shop for delectable goodies like homemade pies, jam, and the like.
Indulge in Happy Hour
Maybe you’re the type who likes to go out and have a few cocktails and apps. Guess what? You can still do that, but at a fraction of the cost at the right happy hours. Search for the best deals near you—and pretty soon you’ll find a go-to place. Even if the first venue you try isn’t a home run, you won’t be upset once you see the bill.
Have a Window-Shopping Date
Okay, so the rule for this one? If you don’t have any self-control, just leave your credit card at home. Browsing in different shops to see what they carry can be such a fun excursion, especially because you’re not on the hunt for something. Grab a coffee, go at a leisurely pace, and just see where the day takes you.
Work Out Together (With a Guest Pass)
Exercising with your bestie means you’ll hold each other accountable (yes, you need to do those last five lunges). If you don’t happen to work out at the same gym, take turns using your guest passes. This way you can do your own routine—or a class together—for free.
If one of you uses a fitness app, like Obé Fitness, you can even have your workout date from one of your living rooms!
Make Boozy Popsicles...Then Eat Them
The only thing more refreshing than icy popsicles is icy popsicles with alcohol in them. Pick out your favorite fruit and liquor, then freeze them into custom popsicle shells. Let the pops harden in the freezer, and then go to town.
Have a Sleepover
This is how you kept your BFF relationships alive when you were younger, so why would you need something fancier now? It’s even more fun now that there are no parents to tell you when you have to go to bed (or limit your popcorn intake). Finish your night of girl time with breakfast at your favorite place around the corner.
Attend an Outdoor Concert
Most cities have an outdoor concert series in the park that's either totally affordable or even free. It's a great excuse to pack a picnic and head out for a fun night of music and dancing with your friends—while enjoying the warm spring and summer weather at the same time.
Have a Listening Party
It might even be the time to break out some actual retro vinyl. But, if not, plug that iPod in and play some of your new favorite tunes. You might just want to relax on the couch and chill, or Beyoncé's latest album might turn your friend date into a full-blown dance party.