Good times with your friends can keep you going when life gets tough or stressful. But if your friends start drinking, you may feel a shift in their priorities. Maybe they don’t show interest in the fun things you used to do together. Maybe you feel pressured to start drinking if you want to maintain your friendships at all. You need fun ideas to do with friends to show them that you don’t need alcohol to have a great time and to enjoy positive experiences together.
Fortunately, there are so many things you can do instead of drinking that will bring your friendships even closer. Take the lead in your friend group by planning one of these activities and create memories that can last for a lifetime.
Hike to a (Potluck) Picnic Spot
The great outdoors is calling you and your best friends! Plan a day trip with your besties to get some fresh air, beautiful scenery, and bonding time. Pack a bag with essentials such as a first-aid kit, sunscreen, water bottle, picnic blanket, and a portable phone charger (trust us). Assign everyone else a meal item, such as cookies, fruit, or energy bars, to store in their packs. Get on the trail and enjoy the adventure with your hiking buddies. Once you reach the end of the trail, reward yourselves with a delicious picnic spread. Leave no trace behind and take some ussies with the epic views!
Outdoor Group Game Day
Games like capture the flag, kickball, hide and seek, and tag are timeless classics for a reason. These simple games you loved as a kid require minimal equipment but a lot of teamwork! Meet your friends in a large open field or park and let your inner child run wild. For friends who are competitive and have a lot of energy, this is one of the more exciting things to do instead of drinking. On a hot day, add a cool-down element — e.g., water balloons, ice cream, or sprinklers. Stay hydrated!
‘Influencer’ Photo Shoot
Need a new profile picture? Have your friends turn you into an influencer for a day and do the same for them! With a little planning, learning the basics, and buying some standard equipment, anyone can take great portraits of their friends. You’ll need an indoor (or outdoor) location with an interesting aesthetic. If outdoors, it could be anything from a hillside covered in flowers to a wall mural in an urban area. Shoot on a sunny day during the golden hour for best results. For indoor shoots, try to get equipment such as a ring light and props such as hats or scarves. Practice influencer-approved poses, and encourage your friends as you photograph them until they glow with confidence.
Weekly Game Night
A weekly game night with friends is something you’ll look forward to every week. While there are multiple ways to play group games (like Among Us) virtually, in-person game nights are an absolute blast, and you have more options. Try popular board games like Scrabble, Settlers of Catan, Escape Room in a Box, or Taboo. A simple deck of cards can entertain people for hours, too! To keep it fresh, play fast-paced card games like Spit, Speed, Crazy Eights, or Slap. Game on!
Host a Clothing Swap
As one of the more productive sober activities on this list, a clothing swap checks multiple boxes: it helps you get organized, it’s great for the environment, and it’s as fun as shopping! Purge your own closet or dresser or clothes you no longer want, need, or fit into, and bring them to a swap event with a group of friends. Have everyone lay their clothes on a table or clean floor, and “shop” for items they want. Your “trash” will become someone else’s treasure and vice versa! Check out these tips to make your swap a success.
Plan a Throwback Theme Party
Do you miss the movies, music, clothes, and slang that defined your early years? It’s likely that your friends do, too. What better way to celebrate your generation than with a throwback party? Choose a year or “era” from your childhood to honor, then turn your home into a time machine! Encourage guests to dress in clothes inspired by the time and binge your favorite movies or TV that came out that year. Set up at-home karaoke and belt out the old top hits, or dust off old gaming consoles. If you make it a sleepover, take time before bed to share memories, stories, and laughs over pizza. The nostalgic aspect makes this one of the more comforting, sober things to do.
Go Out for a Fancy Dinner
Everyone deserves to feel fancy now and then — not just for prom, graduation, or other school-sponsored ceremonies. Get dressed up and meet your friends at a nice local restaurant for a group meal. It works as a great sober birthday idea, too! You may not be full-grown adults yet, but this is a chance to practice some “adulting.” Work on your table manners and dining etiquette (yes, the napkin always goes on your lap). Your problem-solving skills will come in as you work with your friends to pay for the meal (including gratuity/tip, of course). Remember: Enter with class and leave with class — and a full belly.
Take the Pledge — and Invite Your Friends
This list is just a handful of things to do instead of drinking. Feel free to tailor these ideas for sober activities to your friends’ interests; the amount of effort and care you put in will show them how special they are to you. If you’re inspired, brainstorm some ideas of your own. Then take the pledge and invite them to do the same. You can be a positive influence on your friends and help bring them back to their best selves. Remember: the key to having fun is the people around you, not whether alcohol is around. Now, start planning your next get-together!