7 Activities To Do With Your Friends That Don't Involve Alcohol

When I was in college, I never imagined that I’d have to come up with events to see my friends. I’d just walk next door, plop down on a couch, and figure out something to do. (Or not do. Just hanging was totally fine, too.) But in my 30s, as both I and my friends have gotten busier with grown-up things like careers and partners and (sometimes) kids, it’s become a lot harder to “just hang.” While I think many of us wish that we could just stop in and see a friend whenever we felt like it, the reality is more likely to match a text convo like this:

Friend 1: “Hey friend! I haven’t seen you in forevvverrrr. Want to get together soon?”

Friend 2: “YAAAAASSSS!!!!!! Let me look at calendar.”

(Long ass pause.)

Friend 2: “So it looks like I’ll be free on the third Tuesday of the month after next, for 1.45 hours. Let’s get coffee or something!”

Friend 1: “Yay!!! Let’s touch base when it’s closer!!”

And, three days before the scheduled meet up, someone cancels because something came up at work/their kid is sick/they’re burnt out and can’t handle it/their dog has cancer/whatever. While this is obviously a dramatization — and I’m sure plenty of us are still fitting friends in on the semi-regular — most everyone can relate to the difficulty of meeting up with friends once you’re out of college and fully into your adult life.

So, one solution: Group events. Having an actual thing to do seems to be more effective than just hanging out; like if we commit to an activity, it’s harder to bail when Netflix sings her siren song from the den. But even coming up with events can seem like a chore when you’re busy, so here are a few suggestions that I largely borrowed from my own community, the San Francisco women-and-non-binary-only coworking space, The Ruby. We have multiple events every week and I love them because they not only get me to learn new skills, but I also get to hang out with some really amazing women.

And I thought: Why not share this awesome thing with more people? So with that, here are seven events that you can organize with your friends. Oh, and while all of them can include alcohol if you want, none of them have to. Because let’s be honest: Hangovers are a real and present danger as you get older.

1Cookbook Club

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Pick a cookbook and have a potluck where everyone brings one dish from the book. Over dinner, chat about your experience with the book and with cooking. What’d you love? What’d you hate? Would you recommend this book to someone else? The book provides a nice structure to the dinner party, giving you all something to focus on.

2Crafting Circle

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I’m very into embroidery, weaving, and sewing. And while all of those crafts are great on my own, nothing beats crafting with friends! Set up a monthly (or weekly) meet up where people can bring their current projects and you can all hang out and chat while you work. Sewing circles are an old, old school way for women to get some social time in, so join (or form) the club.

3Skincare Swap

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You know how much it sucks to buy a pricey new skincare product, only to realize that it’s just not going to work for you? Don’t let those products go to waste! Organize a skincare swap with some of your close friends and trade those products that are taking up space in your cabinet for something you’ll actually use.

4Clothing Swap

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Clothing swaps are another great way to be friendlier on the environment, get some new (to you) stuff, and hang out with your friends. Choose a charity to donate the leftovers to (and designate someone with a car who’s down to bring them) and then get together and get to trying things on.

5Plant Party

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Plants are hella popular these days — but plants are also expensive. Combine your love of plants with some good old fashion thriftiness in a plant cutting swap. Ask everyone to take cuttings of their favorite greens (and send instructions if they don’t know how to do it themselves) and then bring them all together to exchange. Up your game even further by getting some potting soil and inexpensive terracotta pots (or pricier handmade ones — you choose) and getting those plant babies right into soil.

6Women Authors Only Book Club

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Book clubs are an OG way for people to get together, although anyone whose mom attended one in the ‘90s and ‘00s knows that “book club” usually meant “wine club.” Bring your mama’s book club into the 21st Century by making a women authors-only rule. Even better? Go for only women of color for a while.

7Themed Dumplings Night

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This is one I got from a colleague, who told me about a dumpling contest she and her friends do. They choose an unlikely theme — like Fourth of July, for example — and everyone has to bring in dumplings that fit the theme. It’s a silly, delicious, fun way to spend time with friends.

I don’t know what you and your friends are into. But I hope that, no matter your age, you all are able to get a little time in together soon. Because those text conversations? They gotta stop. So what are you waiting for? Get organizing!